February 21, 2009

Bulldogs Complete Weekend Sweep; Top Columbia 57-49

Feb. 21, 2009

Box Score |  Photo Gallery 

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Trailing Columbia by nine points with 14 minutes left in the second half, the situation looked bleak for the Yale men's basketball team. Then, the Bulldogs turned on the defensive pressure. The Lions scored only eight points the rest of way, and Yale roared back to earn an important 57-49 Ivy victory before a crowd of 1,751 at the John J. Lee Amphitheater and a YES Network television audience.

"Defense is what won us the game," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball. "Our defense was tremendous."

The Bulldogs took their first lead of the second half, 42-41, on Ross Morin's layup with 9:31 left. Columbia quickly regained the lead, but two Alex Zampier free throws put Yale ahead for good, 44-43, with 6:51 remaining.

Travis Pinick's steal and breakaway dunk increased the advantage to five a minute later, and a Morin jumper made it a seven point game, 52-45.

Zampier and Morin paced Yale with 16 points apiece. Pinick added 10 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists. Paul Nelson had his second straight strong game off the bench, contributing eight points and two rebounds in 14 minutes. Chris Andrews had a team-high four assists, and Michael Sands grabbed five rebounds.

Patrick Foley led Columbia with 17 points, while Jason Miller added 10 points, six rebounds and two blocks.

Yale outrebounded the Lions 32-27 and committed only 11 turnovers.

The Bulldogs scored the first six points of the game, but Morin picked up his second foul with 15:30 left in the first half. Normally, that would have earned him a seat on the bench for the rest of the half, but Jones decided to put him back in after a short break.

"I wanted him to stay in the flow of the game," Jones said. "It's important that he get touches, and guys look to him for leadership."

When Morin picked up his third foul with 3:33 left, it looked like the move had backfired. Instead, staying in the game helped keep him involved, and Morin scored 12 of his points in the second half on 4 of 8 shooting from the field.

"I've played with three fouls in the second half before this season," Morin said.

The victory moved the Bulldogs (10-13, 6-4 Ivy) into a three-way tie for second place in the Ivy League with Columbia and Dartmouth. Cornell, at 8-2, sits atop the league standings.

"We control each game we play the rest of the way," Pinick said. "All we can do is play as hard as we can and hope for help."

Yale had won on Friday night in each of the last two weekends, only to lose on Saturday. After knocking off Cornell last night, the Bulldogs managed to complete the sweep.

"We were able to keep our energy from last night, especially in the second half," Pinick said.

It was the sixth time in Jones's tenure that Yale won both games of the Cornell-Columbia home weekend.

Jones also improved to 7-5 against his younger brother Joe, who is in his sixth year at the helm of Columbia's program.

It was Alumni Weekend in the Amphitheater, and several former players were in attendance, including a large contingent from the 2001-02 team that shared the Ivy League championship with Penn and Princeton.

The Bulldogs make their final road trip of the season next weekend, traveling to Penn on Friday at 7 p.m. and Princeton on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity


Video by Steven Horn '10, Yale Sports Publicity