February 24, 2012

Bulldogs Improve 8-3 In Ivy Play; Knock Off Columbia 75-67

Willhite Has 20 Points, Eight Rebounds, Six Assists To Lead Way

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – It's pretty much become routine for Yale to get big numbers from Greg Mangano, Reggie Willhite and Austin Morgan. What has made the Bulldogs successful this year is they have gotten contributions from others when needed.

Friday night against Columbia, it was freshman Brandon Sherrod's turn to step up. Sherrod scored six of his 10 points in the final 4:06 as Yale earned a hard-fought 75-67 victory over the Lions before a crowd of 1,821 at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.

"You have to get contributions from a number of guys to be a good team," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball.

After Columbia (14-13, 3-8 Ivy) had rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to tie the score at 58, Sherrod scored Yale's next four points. First he was fouled hard by Alex Rosenberg going to the basket. The officials reviewed the play on the television replay and called it a flagrant one. Sherrod hit both free throws and then converted a layup off a nifty pass from Morgan on the ensuing in-bounds play.

"I was able to slip to the basket and Austin found me," Sherrod said of the out-of-bounds play. "I had wanted to make that move the whole game."

The Bulldogs never relinquished the lead, although the Lions did pull within one on two occasions. Yale, though, executed its offense nearly flawlessly down the stretch and made its free throws.

Morgan, who entered the game 10th in the nation in free throw percentage, was 6-of-6 in the final two minutes to seal the victory.

"We got our composure back and at the end of the game, made plays," Jones said.

In addition to the four points that broke the tie, Sherrod hit a pair of free throws, blocked a shot, had an assist and grabbed two rebounds down the stretch.

"I'm happy, not satisfied," Sherrod said. "I'm glad we got the win. I just tried to step up and be ready for my opportunity."

Added Jones, "Brandon certainly made the most of his opportunity. We have a lot of players on the team who are pretty good in the post. We talk all the time about guys being ready. For Brandon to get 10 points and six rebounds off the bench is tremendous. He's going to be a big part of our future."

Mangano led the Bulldogs with 22 points, while Willhite had 20 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two steals in 36 minutes. Morgan finished with 14 points, and Jesse Pritchard contributed five points, five rebounds and four assists.

Brian Barbour led five Columbia players in double figures with 21 points. Alex Rosenberg added 13 points and eight rebounds.

Yale (18-7, 8-3 Ivy) remains two games behind first-place Harvard. The Crimson (10-1 Ivy) edged Princeton 67-64. Penn knocked off Dartmouth 57-54 to improve to 8-2. The Quakers play at Harvard on Saturday.

In the first meeting with Columbia two weeks ago, the Bulldogs rallied from a 21-point second-half deficit to win. In the rematch, it looked like the Lions might rally from behind.

Yale led 20-5 nine minutes in, but Columbia slowly chipped away and had the deficit down to eight, 30-22, at halftime.

The Bulldogs built the lead back to 11 early in the second half, but the Lions used a 13-3 run to get back in the game.

NOTES: Both teams shot poorly in the first half but improved in the second half. The Lions were 16-of-30 (53.3 percent) in the final 20 minutes, while Yale was 11-of-22… Yale was 20-of-27 from the foul line in the second half… Willhite's defense also was a factor down the stretch. He held Barbour, Columbia's leading scorer, without a point over the final 3:30…. The Bulldogs swept the season series from the Lions for the third straight year… Yale improved to 10-1 at home this season… The Bulldogs play their final regular season home game tomorrow night against Cornell at 7 p.m. Seniors Rhett Anderson, Brian Katz, Mangano and Willhite will be honored prior to tipoff.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity