February 27, 2009

Big Second Half Leads Yale Past Penn At The Palestra

Feb. 27, 2009

Box Score

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - In recent years, Yale and Penn have played some memorable games at the Palestra, but in the end, the Quakers always came out on top. That finally changed Friday night. Ross Morin scored 20 points, one of five players in double figures, as the Bulldogs rallied to top Penn 87-79 before a crowd of 2,785 in the historic building.

"It's one of the top arenas in the Ivy League and the country," said senior Travis Pinick. "To get a win in my last game here feels great. It was really a team effort."

It was Yale's first victory over the Quakers in Philadelphia since a 60-58 win on Feb. 15, 1997. The Bulldogs did beat Princeton in the Palestra in an Ivy League playoff game in 2002.

The Bulldogs (12-13, 7-4 Ivy) moved into sole possession of second place with the win and losses by Dartmouth and Columbia. Yale trails first-place Cornell (9-2) by two games.

Yale dominated the game on the inside, getting 60 points from its frontcourt. In addition to Morin, Pinick had 15 points, five rebounds and four assists, Jordan Gibson scored 11 points and Paul Nelson added 10 points and five rebounds.

"Our game plan is always to go inside," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball. "We have a lot of big bodies. Our guards did a great job of getting them the ball in good spots."

The Bulldogs had 20 assists and committed only six turnovers. Porter Braswell had five assists and Chris Andrews contributed four.

And when Yale couldn't score inside, Alex Zampier made sure there was still enough offense. He made 6 of 12 shots from the field and finished with 19 points.

Early on, it looked like it would be another long night for the Bulldogs in Philly. The Quakers (8-16, 4-6 Ivy) made four three-pointers in the first seven minutes and led by 13, 28-15, midway through the half.

"They were scoring at will," Pinick said.

Yale, though, picked up its defensive intensity and closed the first half with a 15-7 run, capped by a Pinick driving layup with four seconds left, to pull within 37-36 at the intermission.

The Bulldogs took their first lead of the second half, 40-39, on Pinick's layup in the first minute. The advantage grew to six on Greg Mangano's dunk with 11:07 left.

The Quakers got back within four, but Yale seized control with an 11-4 run over the next four minutes, capped by a Gibson free throw.

"The difference in the game was that we raised our level of defense in the second half," Jones said.

After shooting a sizzling 60.9 percent in the first half, Penn was held to a more respectable 53.8 percent in the second half.

"We were switching too much in the first half," Morin said. "In the second half, we did a better job of fighting through the screens."

The Bulldogs have won four of their last five games. They have trailed at the half in each of their last three wins.

There were 68 free throws attempted in the game. Yale outscored the Quakers 20-17 from the foul line.

The Bulldogs will look to complete their first sweep of the Penn-Princeton road trip since 1986-87 when they play at Princeton on Saturday. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity