February 4, 2011

Miraculous Comeback Lifts Yale Past Cornell 71-70

Morgan's Three-Point Play With 12 Seconds Left Wins It

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – There probably weren't many fans in the John J. Lee Amphitheater on Friday who thought the Bulldogs were going to win when they trailed Cornell by eight points with three minutes remaining. James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach still believed, and his faith was rewarded. Austin Morgan's three-point play with 12 seconds left capped a stunning comeback as Yale escaped with a thrilling 71-70 victory over the Big Red.

"With three minutes left in the game, I said to myself we're going to win this game. I didn't know how it was going to happen, but we're going to win," a mentally drained Jones said after the game. "Sometimes miracles happen, and we're happy to be a part of it."

Yale (10-9, 3-2 Ivy) was down 10 points with 1:58 left and still trailed by seven with 1:10 remaining.

Porter Braswell's three-pointer cut the deficit to four. After Cornell's Chris Wroblewski and Morgan traded a pair of free throws, Errick Peck missed two free throws, keeping the Bulldogs alive. Greg Mangano's put-back then pulled Yale within 70-68 with 26 seconds left.

The Bulldogs regained possession when Mangano got his hands on Drew Ferry's pass. After a timeout, Morgan's driving layup and ensuing free throw completed the comeback.

Cornell had one last opportunity, but Reggie Willhite blocked Peck's driving layup in the final seconds.

"Basketball is a funny game," said Morgan, who also had a winning three-point play in Yale's overtime victory over Holy Cross earlier this season. "The coaches always tell us to keep playing until the end. We kept chipping away without time going off the clock."

Braswell finished with 18 points to lead Yale. Morgan added 17 points, and Mangano contributed 14 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots.

With Cornell's defense focusing much of its attention on Mangano, Yale's guards combined for 40 points.

"Having Greg is a big asset," Morgan said. "He attracts so much attention that it makes everybody else better."

Drew Ferry paced the Big Red with 18 points.

The Big Red got 42 points from its bench.

Early on, it didn't look like the Bulldogs were going to need a big comeback. Braswell's three-pointer gave Yale an 11-point lead midway through the first half. After an emphatic dunk in traffic by Willhite with 3:22 left, the Bulldogs still had a seven-point advantage.

Cornell, though, scored the next nine points and closed the half with a 13-2 run to take a 36-32 lead at the intermission.

The Bulldogs took their first lead of the second half, 53-52, on a Jeremiah Kreisberg jumper with 9:47 remaining but wouldn't lead again until the final seconds.

NOTES: Yale had a big edge in most of the statistical categories, outshooting the Big Red 49.1 percent to 42.6 percent and outrebounding Cornell 39-29. The Bulldogs, though, committed 18 turnovers… Freshman Isaiah Salafia scored a career-high five points off the bench… Mangano finished 7-of-11 from the field and finished one rebound shy of his eighth double-double… Yale did an outstanding defensive job, led mostly by Willhite, on Wroblewski. Cornell's leading scorer was just 3-of-8 from the field in scoring nine points, six below his average… The Bulldogs have little time to savor this victory. They host Columbia on Saturday at 6 p.m. The Lions dropped an 87-79 decision at Brown.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity