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Big Home Weekend On Tap For Bulldogs

Brandon Sherrod (photo by Don Clark, Yale Sports Publicity)
Brandon Sherrod (photo by Don Clark, Yale Sports Publicity)

Saturday Is Alumni Day At Lee Amphitheater

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. -  As they head down the home stretch of the regular season, the Bulldogs are playing perhaps their best basketball. Yale has won three of its last four games heading into a big home weekend. The Bulldogs host Dartmouth on Friday at 7 p.m. and Harvard on Saturday at 8 p.m. The game with the Crimson will be televised on the CBS Sports Network. Don Criqui will handle the play by play, while Alaa Abdelnaby provides analysis.

Rebounding and depth have been the keys to the recent success. Yale has outrebounded its opponents in each of the last five games and in eight of the last nine. The Bulldogs lead the Ivy League in rebounding margin (+4.0) and offensive rebounds (12.7 per game). In the last four games, Yale's bench has averaged nearly 32 points per game. In Saturday's 75-56 victory over Columbia eight players scored at least six points and no one had more than 10.

This season, the Bulldogs have had nine different players lead the team in scoring in at least one game, and 11 players have scored in double figures at least once. Austin Morgan leads the team in scoring (11.3 ppg.) and three pointers (51). In addition, Morgan is third in the nation in free throw percentage (.920, 81-of-88) and has made 29 straight free throws dating back to the Florida game on Jan. 6. He is the only player to start all 25 games. Freshman Justin Sears, who missed the Harvard-Dartmouth road weekend due to injury earlier this month, is sixth in the league in rebounding (5.9 rpg.) and field goal percentage (.500).


•  In his last four games, Sam Martin is shooting 69.2 percent (9-of-13) from three-point range and averaging 8.0 points. In eight Ivy League games, Martin is shooting 54.5 percent (12-of-22) from beyond the arc. Twelve of Martin's 15 field goals in Ivy play are threes.

•  In his last three games, Justin Sears is shooting 65 percent (13-of-20) from the field.

•  Armani Cotton averages a team-best 6.5 rebounds in Ivy League play.

•  Javier Duren is averaging 8.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists in Ivy games.

•  In its last three halves, the Bulldogs are shooting 62.0 percent (44-of-71) from the field.


The Bulldogs have won 13 straight games over Dartmouth in Lee Amphitheater. Dartmouth's last win in the building was an 80-65 decision in 1999. The Big Green, though, has a chance to sweep the season series. Dartmouth topped the Bulldogs 71-62 in Hanover, N.H., earlier this month. Overall, Yale leads the all-time series106-95.

Yale and Harvard are playing for the 188th time, and the Bulldogs hold a 115-71 advantage in the series. The 115 victories are the most against any opponent for Yale. The Crimson, though, has won the last three, including a 67-64 victory on Feb. 1.


Gabas Maldunas was 8-of-10 from the field and finished with 16 points to lead Dartmouth to a victory on Feb. 2. Yale got a career-high 16 points from Matt Townsend, but shot just 35 percent from the field. Austin Morgan added 20 points for the Bulldogs. The Big Green was 19-of-20 from the foul line in the second half and shot 51.1 percent from the field for the game.


Laurent Rivard and Wesley Saunders each scored 15 points to lead the Crimson before a full house of 2,195 at Lavietes Pavilion in the first meeting this year. The Bulldogs trailed 40-27 at halftime, but forced 10 Harvard turnovers in the second half and outscored the Crimson 37-27. Armani Cotton scored 14 points to pace Yale. Austin Morgan added nine points, and Matt Townsend, Javier Duren and Michael Grace all finished with eight.


The Big Green (6-16, 2-6 Ivy) has 13 freshmen or sophomores on the roster. Gabas Maldunas (10.7 ppg.) and Alex Mitola (10.1 ppg.) lead the team in scoring. Paul Cormier is now in the third season of his second stint as the head coach of the Big Green. He also guided Dartmouth from 1984 to 1991.


Harvard (15-7, 7-1 Ivy) plays at Brown on Friday night. The Crimson has three players averaging double figures in scoring - Wesley Saunders (16.7 ppg.), Siyani Chambers (13.0 ppg.) and Laurent Rivard (10.5 ppg.). Kenyatta Smith, who was 13-of-14 from the field and averaged 17.0 points in last weekend's sweep of Penn and Princeton, was named the Ivy League Player of the Week.


•   Yale had vastly different starts in the two games last weekend. The Bulldogs fell behind Cornell 11-2, but scored the first nine points against Columbia and never relinquished the lead.

•   Javier Duren had a career-high seven assists against Cornell.

•   The Bulldogs were just 12-of-26 (46.2 percent) from the free throw line against Cornell. Yale entered the game second in the Ivy League in free throw percentage (.728).

•   Yale has won eight games in a row against Columbia.

•   Brandon Sherrod, who is still working his way back from an injury that forced him to miss seven games, was 5-of-7 from the field and scored a season-high10 points against Columbia.

•   The Newtown, Conn., Youth Basketball program played a short halftime game  on Saturday and then visited with the Bulldogs in the locker room following the game.


The Bulldogs have finished fourth or better in the Ivy League in each of the last 12 years. That didn't earn Yale much respect in the preseason Ivy League media poll, which projected a sixth-place finish for the Bulldogs. Yale, though, has a history of proving the prognosticators wrong. In five of the last seven years, the Bulldogs have finished higher than projected.



First-Place Votes in Parentheses

Rank       School............................................ Points

1.             Princeton (16)..................................... 134

2.             Harvard (1)......................................... 109

3.             Columbia.............................................. 90

4.             Cornell................................................. 80

5.             Penn.................................................... 74

6.             Yale...................................................... 55

7.             Brown.................................................. 50

8.             Dartmouth........................................... 20


The 2012-13 Yale roster features four freshmen. Khaliq Bedart-Ghani (Inglewood, CA), Jack Montague (Brentwood, TN), Justin Sears (Plainfield, NJ) and Nick Victor (Dallas, TX) all bring strong credentials. Bedart-Ghani led Loyola High School in California in rebounding and blocks as a senior last winter. Montague was the district, region and county most valuable player as a senior at Brentwood High School. He averaged 17.0 points and seven assists and scored more than 1,200 career points. Sears earned first team all-state, all-area and all-county honors as a senior at Plainfield High School in New Jersey. He scored 1,048 points and grabbed 1,063 rebounds in his career to become only the second player in school history to score over 1,000 points and grab more than 1,000 rebounds. He helped lead Plainfield to two New Jersey Tournament of Champion title games where it lost to national power St. Anthony's both times. Victor spent one year at the Winchendon School and earned NEPSAC honorable mention recognition. At Lovejoy High School in Dallas, Texas, he was the 2010 District most valuable player.


•  The Bulldogs didn't play their first home game until Saturday, Nov. 24 against Army. That was the first of 12 games in the friendly confines of the John J. Lee Amphitheater.

•  Yale played in the NABC Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The first game was at Saint Joseph, the Atlantic 10 preseason favorite. The Bulldogs then headed to Evansville, Ind., for three games, against Evansville, Buffalo and Western Illinois.

•  Yale faced a very challenging three-game road trip right after Christmas. The Bulldogs travelled to Nevada, Saint Mary's and Iowa State. The trip to Nevada was a homecoming for Reno native Austin Morgan, Jeremiah Kreisberg hails from Berkeley, Calif., a short distance from the Saint. Mary's campus while the trip to Iowa State was a homecoming for Ames, Iowa, native Jesse Pritchard.

•  The biggest test of the season, though, came in Lee Amphitheater when preseason No. 10 Florida visited on Jan. 6. The Gators return three starters from a squad that went 26-11 and fell one game shy of the Final Four last year.

•  The Florida game was one of two in the Amphitheater that will be nationally televised. The NBC Sports Network was in town for the game with the Gators, while CBS Sports Television will show the home game with Harvard on Feb. 23.

•  Yale kicked off Ivy League play on Jan. 19 at Brown. Five of the first six Ivy games were on the road.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity