Zampier Goes Out In Style But Bulldogs Fall To Cornell

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Senior Night: Alex Zampier. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Caps Yale Career With 24-Point Performance

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The near capacity crowd that came to the John J. Lee Amphitheater on Saturday got a first-hand look at why Cornell is heading to its third straight NCAA Tournament. Ryan Wittman scored 17 of his 20 points in the second half and Louis Dale added 18 points and five assists as the Big Red held off a pesky Bulldog squad in a 79-59 victory.

The loss spoiled an outstanding performance from Yale senior Alex Zampier, who was playing his final game. Zampier was 8-of-15 from the field and made five three-pointers to finish with 24 points.

Early in the second half, it looked like the Bulldogs might have a chance to pull the upset. Two Austin Morgan free throws cut an eight-point halftime deficit in half with 14:03 left. After a Cornell miss, Yale had an opportunity to get closer, but Raffi Mantilla missed a three-pointer.

Cornell then went to work. Dale followed Mantilla’s miss with a conventional three-point play to increase the lead to seven. After each team hit two free throws, the Big Red got consecutive three-pointers from Dale, Reeves and Wittman. Wittman then capped the 13-0 run with a layup and Cornell had a 62-44 lead with 9:14 left.

“It seemed like any time we made a mistake, they made us pay,” said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men’s Basketball.

Cornell, which finishes the regular season 27-4 overall and 13-1 in Ivy play, shot 80 percent (8-of-10) from three-point range in the second half.

“We would hit shots, and they would come right back down and make a shot, so it was a little frustrating,” Zampier said. “I thought we did a relatively good job for a good portion of the game, but you can’t let up against them at all.”

Chris Wroblewski added 10 points and Jeff Foote had nine points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks for the Big Red.

Michael Sands scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds for Yale. Brian Katz added a career-high eight points, while Greg Mangano scored seven points. Paul Nelson, Yale’s other healthy senior, had three points and six rebounds and did a good defensive job on Foote, Cornell’s 7-foot center.

Yale ends the season with a 12-19 overall record and a 6-8 Ivy mark. The Bulldogs are assured of their 10th consecutive fourth-place or better finish. Penn can earn a share of fourth with a victory at Princeton on Tuesday night.

Early on, it appeared Cornell might cruise to victory. The Big Red led 20-13 after six minutes, but the Bulldogs stayed within striking distance. Zampier’s three-pointer cut the deficit to six with 7:57 left, and Cornell needed a Jon Jaques layup as time expired to take a 36-28 lead at the intermission.

Wittman was just 1-of-8 from the field and had only three points in the opening 20 minutes.

“I thought we did a great job chasing him, getting through screens and contesting his shot,” Jones said. “But he’s such a great shooter. It’s hard to do that for 40 minutes.”

Zampier finished his outstanding career with 1,144 points and 135 three-pointers. He is Yale’s all-time leader in steals with 167 steals and set a single-season school record this year with 59 steals.

“I owe everything to these coaches,” Zampier said. “They gave me the opportunity to come to the best school in the world and play basketball.”

NOTES: Zampier, Nelson, Jordan Gibson and Josh Davis were all honored in a pre-game ceremony. Davis and Gibson were both unable to play in their final game because of injuries… The Bulldogs were 8-of-23 on three-pointers, while Cornell finished 12-of-21… Entering the night, Yale had won seven of the last eight meetings with Cornell at Lee Amphitheater… The Bulldogs will open the 2010-11 season against Quinnipiac at the Connecticut 6 Classic at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Other highlights of next year's schedule include trips to Providence, Boston College, Illinois and Stanford. In addition, non-league foes Army, Hartford, Albany, Sacred Heart and Lehigh will visit Lee Amphitheater.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity