Yale Nearly Overcomes 19-Point Second-Half Deficit
WINSTON SALEM, N.C. – Another five minutes or so would have been awfully nice for the Yale men's basketball team Thursday at Wake Forest. The Bulldogs trailed by 19 points midway through the second half, staged a ferocious comeback but ran out of time before it was complete in falling 72-71 to the Demon Deacons before a very nervous crowd of 8,183 at Joel Coliseum.
The loss ended Yale's six-game winning streak.
Down 56-37 with 11:34 left, the Bulldogs (8-3) outscored Wake Forest 34-16 the rest of the way. They did it with the help of a press that forced a number of Wake turnovers.
"Necessity is the mother of invention," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball. "We needed to force the tempo. They are very patient in the half court. We were able to turn them over a few times and I thought they took some ill-advised shots that helped us."
Austin Morgan's three-pointer from the wing pulled Yale within 68-66 with 1:05 left. Tony Chennault answered with a driving layup. After a Yale turnover, C.J. Harris sank two free throws to make it 72-66.
The Bulldogs, though, weren't quite dead. Greg Mangano hit a jumper, and Chennault missed two free throws.
Morgan then made another three-pointer with one second left, but the Demon Deacons quickly inbounded the ball before Yale could foul.
"We dug ourselves a big hole, but hopefully the comeback is something we can build on," said Michael Grace, who scored 12 points and had two assists in his homecoming game. Grace, who played at Mount Tabor High School, is a Winston-Salem native and had nearly 100 family and friends at the game. He received a nice ovation when he was announced in the starting lineup.
Two of Grace's high school teammates, C.J. Harris and Brooks Godwin, play at Wake Forest.
"It was wonderful," Grace said of the homecoming. "I had great support from my family. I have a lot of history here, and to play against C.J. was great. We've been best friends for a long time."
It was also a big night for Mangano, who had three blocked shots, giving him a school record 174 for his career. He broke Chris Dudley's mark of 172 set from 1984 to 87.
Mangano finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Morgan had 15 points, and Reggie Willhite contributed 10.
Harris led Wake (9-4) with 23 points. He was 8-of-12 from the field and 3-of-4 from three-point range. Travis McKie added 14 points and Nikita Mescheriakov had 13, including five in the final three minutes.
The Demon Deacons scored the first nine points of the game and never relinquished the lead. Their largest advantage of the first half was 11, but Yale rallied and got within four, 32-28, on a Willhite layup. Chennault, though, scored just before time expired, giving Wake a 34-28 lead at the intermission.
The Bulldogs, who were playing only their second game since Dec. 7, struggled from three-point range. Yale was just 5-of-22 from beyond the arc.
"We had a countless number of wide-open shots that we didn't knock down," Jones said.
NOTES: Yale's bench outscored Wake's 12-4. Isaiah Salafia led the way with seven points. Freshman Matt Townsend contributed three points and six rebounds in 10 minutes… Mangano's double-double was his fourth of the season and the 18th of his career… Yale had a 43-32 edge in rebounding. The Bulldogs had 17 offensive rebounds which they turned into 16 second-chance points… A victory would have been Yale's third against an ACC team in Jones' tenure as head coach. The Bulldogs beat Clemson in 2002 and knocked off Boston College last year… The road doesn't get any easier for Yale, which plays at No. 10 Florida on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Gators lost 85-83 in double overtime at Rutgers on Thursday.
Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity