March 4, 2011

All Five Starters Score In Double Figures As Bulldogs Handle Columbia 87-81 In Double Overtime

Victory Secures Third Place For Yale

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Nothing comes easy for the Yale men's basketball team.

Holding a 12-point lead with three minutes left in the second half, it looked like the Bulldogs were going to cruise to their eighth Ivy League win. Instead, Columbia used a 15-3 run, including a Noruwa Agho three-pointer with nine seconds left, to tie the score at 65 and force overtime.

It took two extra periods but Yale still managed to pull out an 87-81 victory before a crowd of 1,347 at Levien Gym.

It was the Bulldogs' second overtime Ivy League victory and their sixth league win by six points or less. In fact, all 13 of Yale's Ivy games have been decided by nine points or less.

"Almost every game we've played has been close," said Reggie Willhite, who scored a career-high 21 points and added six rebounds, four assists and two steals in 39 minutes. "It teaches you how to play in those games and has made us stronger as a team."

Although the game went two overtimes, Yale never trailed. The Bulldogs scored the first 12 points of the game and never relinquished the lead. The first tie came on Agho's three-pointer at the end of regulation. There were two ties in the first overtime, including after Agho's layup with 21 seconds left that made it 76-76, which is how it stayed after five minutes.

Yale then outscored Columbia 11-5 in the second extra period. Austin Morgan's three-pointer was the biggest shot of the last five minutes. It gave the Bulldogs an 82-77 lead with 44 seconds left. Yale then hit 5-of-6 free throws the rest of the way to secure the victory.

"We really controlled the game," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball. "We just were not efficient at times and that gave them an opportunity. Give Columbia credit. They played hard."

All five starters scored in double figures for the Bulldogs. Greg Mangano had 20 points and 16 rebounds. Morgan finished with 19 points, while Jeremiah Kreisberg had 15 points and Porter Braswell scored 10.

In addition to his strong game offensively, Willhite also helped contain Agho, who shares the league lead in scoring with Mangano. Agho finished with 20 points, but he was only 8-of-19 from the field. All 20 of his points came after halftime.

"Reggie was super on both ends of the floor," Jones said.

The victory, coupled with Penn's loss at Harvard, assured the Bulldogs of at least a share of third place. Yale (15-12, 8-5 Ivy) can clinch it outright with a win Saturday at Cornell or with a Penn loss in one of its remaining two games.

The Bulldogs also clinched a winning overall and Ivy record.

NOTES: The Bulldogs shot 51.8 percent from the field and held Columbia to 38.8 percent… Yale committed 22 turnovers, which led to 19 Columbia points… With one regular season game left, Mangano is now averaging 16.3 points and 10.2 rebounds. The last Yale player to average a double-double for the season was Chris Dudley (17.6 ppg., 13.3 rpg. in 1986-87)… Mangano and Agho will enter their final games tied for the league lead in scoring. Mangano also leads the league in rebounding and blocked shots.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity

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