Bulldogs Need One Win To Clinch Ivy League Tournament Berth
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The final weekend of the regular season has the Bulldogs needing one win to clinch one of four spots in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament next week in Philadelphia. The first opportunity comes on Friday night when Cornell visits the John J. Lee Amphitheater in Payne Whitney Gym. Yale then hosts Columbia on Saturday on Senior Night. Both games are 7 p.m. tips. The Ivy League Digital Network, ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app have the video on Friday, while Saturday's game airs exclusively on ILDN.
The Bulldogs (15-10, 7-5 Ivy) enter the weekend in third place, two games ahead of Penn and Columbia, who are tied for fourth at 5-7. A loss by either the Quakers or Lions would earn Yale a tourney berth as well. The Bulldogs clinch the third seed with one win but would be the fourth seed if they finish in a tie with either Penn or Columbia. If Yale, Penn and Columbia all finish 7-7, the Bulldogs would miss out on the tournament by virtue of the tiebreaker.
Yale is coming off one of its most impressive offensive performances of the season, a 99-86 victory at Dartmouth. The 99 points were the most by the Bulldogs in an Ivy game since a 106-95 win over Harvard in 1987. Yale shot 57.1 percent from the field and made 11 three-pointers.
Seniors Anthony Dallier and Sam Downey will be honored prior to Saturday's game. During their careers, the Bulldogs have won 79 games, making them the winningest class in the modern history of Yale Basketball. In addition, they have won a pair of Ivy League championships and helped the Bulldogs win the first NCAA Tournament game in school history.
Both have played key roles in Yale's success this year. Dallier is second in the Ivy League in assists (4.1 per game) and 10th in three-point field goal percentage (.381). Earlier this season, he was named the Ivy League Player of the Week after scoring a career-high 30 points in the home win over Brown. Downey is second in the Ivy League in field goal percentage (.557) and third in rebounding (6.7 rpg.). In Ivy games, he has been even more productive, shooting 61.8 percent from the field and averaging 11.5 points and 7.8 rebounds. He has posted four double-doubles and is a two-time Ivy League Player of the Week selection.
The Bulldogs, who lead the Ivy League in field goal percentage (.467), feature three of the league's top seven most accurate shooters. Downey is second, while Jordan Bruner (.512) is fifth and guard Alex Copeland (.498) is seventh.
Copeland is coming off a big weekend. He had 20 points at Harvard last Friday and then matched his career-high with 23 points in the win over Dartmouth.
Miye Oni, a leading candidate for Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors, also had a career night against the Big Green, scoring 27 points, grabbing seven rebounds and handing out four assists in 34 minutes.
Yale took the all-time lead in the series with Cornell 111-110 with its 78-71 victory in Ithaca in early February. The game actually took two days to complete. It was halted just 1:30 in due to a second power outage at Newman Arena. The first outage had delayed the start by over an hour. The game was resumed the following day. The Bulldogs have won the last eight meetings with the Big Red and have won three straight in the series at Lee Amphitheater.
Yale has won seven of the last eight meetings with Columbia at home, including an 86-72 decision last year. In the first meeting this season, Yale scored 49 points in the second half and held the Lions to 39 percent from the field in rolling to an 87-78 victory at Levien Gym. Overall, the Bulldogs are 14-3 in their last 17 games with the Lions. Columbia, though, leads the all-time series 125-107. The first meeting between the teams was Jan. 18, 1902, a 48-3 Yale win.
The Big Red (7-20, 3-9 Ivy) has been eliminated from the Ivy League Tournament race. Cornell features the league's leading scorer in Matt Morgan, who averages 17.8 points. Yale held Morgan to 11 points in the first meeting. Stone Gettings, the team's second-leading scorer at 12.4 ppg., scored 28 points against the Bulldogs in the first meeting. Robert Hatter (11.8 ppg.) also averages double figures in scoring for the Big Red, who has lost three straight games.
The Lions, who play at Brown on Friday, are coming off a much-needed 70-67 victory over Penn last Saturday in New York. Freshman Mike Smith scored 20 points to lead the way, including hitting a couple of big three-pointers down the stretch. The win snapped a five-game losing streak for Columbia (11-14, 5-7 Ivy). Smith (13.5 ppg.) is one of three Lions averaging double figures in scoring. Luke Petrasek is averaging a team-best 15.2 points and Nate Hickman averages 12.1 points. The Lions average 10 offensive rebounds per game which is second to Yale in the league.
Over the last three seasons, the Bulldogs have a 31-9 record in Ivy League games. In addition, the Bulldogs are looking to finish with a winning record in league play for the seventh straight season.
JONES YALE'S ALL-TIME WINNINGEST IVY COACH
With three Ivy wins this season, James Jones, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of the Bulldogs, is now Yale's all-time leader with 148 Ivy League victories. He began the year tied with Hall of Fame Coach Joe Vancisin, who won 141 league games in his 19 season. Jones' 148 Ivy coaching victories are third all-time in league history, trailing only Princeton's Pete Carril and Penn's Fran Dunphy. In addition, Jones' 269 overall wins are the third most by a coach in Ivy history.
HOME SWEET HOME
Yale had its 22-game home winning streak, which at the time was the fifth longest in the nation, ended by Harvard on Feb. 11. Over the last five seasons, the Bulldogs are 48-14 in the friendly confines of Lee Amphitheater. Yale went the entire calendar year of 2016 without losing a home game.
2016-17 Ivy League Men's Basketball Tournament Schedule
Saturday, March 11
Men's Semifinal (seed 1 vs. seed 4) 1:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Men's Semifinal (seed 2 vs. seed 3) 4 p.m. (ESPNU)
Sunday, March 12
Men's Championship 12 p.m. (ESPN2)
TICKETS TO IVY TOURNAMENT ON SALE
Tickets for the Inaugural Ivy League Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments, March 11-12 at the Palestra in Philadelphia, are currently on sale. The top four men's and women's teams will play for the Ivy League's automatic bids to the NCAA tournaments where the League has won six games over the last seven years.
Tournament books can be purchased at IvyMadness.com/tickets or by calling The Palestra box office at 215-898-615. The tournament book includes tickets to all six games across the two-day event. Prices range from $60-$120.
Single-session tickets, if available, will go on sale at a later date. Individual game tickets will not be available.
COACHES VS. CANCER THREE-POINT CHALLENGE
Making 3-point shots this basketball season takes on even more meaning this year for Coach James Jones and the Yale men's basketball team. The Bulldogs will square off against teams across the nation to fight cancer as part of the American Cancer Society's Coaches vs. Cancer 3-Point Challenge.
The Coaches vs. Cancer 3-Point Challenge allows over 200 college and high school basketball teams nationwide to use their spotlight on the court to raise money and awareness against cancer. Fans can make a pledge for each 3-point shot the Bulldogs make from February 1st – March 4th by visiting https://pledgeit.org/cvc-yale. Each donation will support the American Cancer Society's research, education and patient programs.
Report filed by Tim Bennett (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity