Harvard's Loss Moves Yale Within One Game Of First Place Entering Final Weekend
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – It would have been hard to script a more perfect Senior Night. The Bulldogs played one of their best all-around games of the season and cruised to a surprisingly easy 71-40 victory over Cornell before a crowd of 1,675 at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.
And the three seniors who dressed all played a role. Greg Mangano scored 16 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and had three blocks, Reggie Willhite had eight points, nine rebounds, eight assists and four steals, and Rhett Anderson contributed two points and one rebound.
Brian Katz has been out for virtually the entire season with an injury but was still recognized before the game.
"I couldn't think of a better way to go out," said Mangano, who posted his 13th double-double of the season. "We got great contributions from everybody. We played really well as a team."
Willhite's four steals give him 59 for the season, which ties Alex Zampier's school record set in 2009-10.
Willhite's versatility was never more evident than in this weekend's sweep of Columbia and Cornell. In the two games, he averaged 14 points and 8.5 rebounds while adding 14 assists and six steals.
"It's not about scoring, it's about making the right play," Willhite said. "When we move the ball, we are a really good team."
The news only got better for the Bulldogs (19-7, 9-3 Ivy) shortly after the final buzzer. Penn knocked off Harvard 55-54, so Yale moved within a game of the first place Crimson (10-2). The Quakers (9-2) are just a half-game in back of Harvard.
The Bulldogs close out the regular season next weekend at Princeton on Friday and at Penn on Saturday. Harvard travels to Columbia on Friday and Cornell on Saturday, while the Quakers host Brown and Yale before ending the season at Princeton on Mar. 6.
Cornell (11-15, 6-6 Ivy) never got closer than 14 in the second half.
Yale shot 47.4 percent from the field and held the Big Red to only 22.6 percent (14-of-62).
The Bulldogs finished their home schedule with an 11-1 record, their best mark in Lee Amphitheater since the 1989-90 team also went 11-1.
"We have a great atmosphere," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball. "It's an intimidating place to play, and we really feed off the crowd."
In all, 11 of the 15 players that dressed scored. Jesse Pritchard scored a career-high 13 points. He was 5-of-6 from the field.
"Jesse is getting comfortable," Jones said. "He started the season playing behind Reggie so there weren't many minutes [available]. We changed the lineup, and he's gotten the chance and has taken advantage."
Still, it was a night about the seniors, who have helped Yale to 69 victories during their careers.
"They've worked hard every day," Jones said.
The Bulldogs' 19 overall victories are the most since the 2001-02 team won 21. A victory next weekend would give Yale 20 wins for only the sixth time in school history.
NOTES: The win was the 100th Ivy League victory for Jones at Yale… He is only the fifth coach in league history to reach the marl… The victory earned Yale a spilt of the season series with the Big Red. Cornell edged the Bulldogs 85-84 in overtime two weeks ago in Ithaca… Yale has now won nine of the last 11 meetings with Cornell in Lee Amphitheater… The Big Red is 9-2 in Ithaca and just 2-13 on the road… Yale's bench outscored Cornell's 16-13… The Bulldogs turned 13 Cornell turnovers into 22 points. Yale had 11 turnovers, but they led to just four points for the Big Red.
Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity