Bulldogs Enter Weekend One Game Behind First Place Harvard
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Yale's seven-game winning streak ended last Sunday at Columbia. The Bulldogs look to start a new streak this weekend when they embark on the final road trip of the regular season. Yale is at Princeton on Friday and then has a Saturday date with Penn at The Palestra. Both games are scheduled to tip at 7 p.m.
Another seven-game streak would make for quite a memorable season for the Bulldogs, who enter the weekend one-game behind first-place Harvard with four games remaining. The two teams meet next Friday in New Haven, so Yale still controls its own destiny.
The Bulldogs (14-10, 8-2 Ivy) have already clinched a winning Ivy record for the fourth straight year and the fifth time in the last six years. One of the reasons for Yale's success has been the play of Armani Cotton, who is averaging 12.6 points and 7.5 rebounds in league play after averaging 7.4 points and 4.2 rebounds in the non-conference portion of the schedule. Cotton has scored in double figures in four of the last five games and has three double-doubles during the stretch.
Justin Sears (15.8 ppg., 6.9 rpg.) leads the team in scoring and rebounding.
Head coach James Jones enters the weekend with 204 victories, all during his time at Yale. He is two shy of Joe Vansicin, the school's all-time winningest men's basketball coach. Vancisin guided the Bulldogs to 206 wins from 1956 to 1975.
3 KEYS FOR YALE
Forget The Past –The Bulldogs must put Sunday's loss to Columbia in the past. The fact remains if Yale wins its last four regular season games, it is assured of no worse than a tie for the Ivy League championship.
Offensive Flow – Yale's offense became stagnant at times against the Lions. The Bulldogs finished with only five assists on 16 field goals. They'll need to be better this weekend.
Defend The 3 – Yale was outstanding defending the perimeter in defeating Penn and Princeton at home two weeks ago. The Quakers were just 2-of-13 from beyond the arc, while Princeton was 5-of-22.
• Justin Sears continues to make a case for Ivy League Player of the Year consideration. Sears is among the league leaders in several categories, including scoring (15.8 ppg., 4th), rebounding (6.9 rpg., 3rd), field goal percentage (.484, 8th), steals (1.4 per game, t-4th) and blocked shots (1.8 per game, 2nd).
• Jack Montague and Isaiah Salafia have filled in admirably in the absence of Javier Duren, who missed both games last weekend with an injury. Montague made five three-pointers and scored a career-high 18 points in the win at Cornell, while Salafia started each game and guided the offense to an Ivy best 82 points against Cornell.
The Bulldogs have won the last six times they have played either Princeton or Penn. Yale swept the season series from both schools last year for the first time since the official start of Ivy play in 1957 and beat them each at home two weeks ago.
Yale and Princeton are playing for the 229th time, and the Tigers lead the all-time series 144-84. The Bulldogs have won three straight against Princeton but are 1-4 in their last five games in Jadwin Gym. Two weeks ago at Lee Amphitheater, Justin Sears' putback with 4.4 seconds left in overtime lifted Yale to a 66-65 win. Sears finished with 17 points, five rebounds, four blocks, three assists and two steals.
Sears also played a big role in Yale's 69-54 victory over the Quakers in New Haven on Valentine's Day. He had 25 points, seven rebounds, four blocks and three steals. Armani Cotton added 17 points and 11 rebounds. Yale and Penn are playing for the 220th time, and the Quakers lead the all-time series 146-73.
The Bulldogs' sweep of the Penn-Princeton road trip last year was their first since the 1986-87 season.
The Tigers (15-8, 3-6 Ivy) feature the league's leading scorer in T.J. Bray, who averages 17.6 points. Bray had 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals in the first meeting. Princeton has lost a number of close games in Ivy play, including two in overtime, one by one point (at Columbia) and one by three points (at Penn). More than half of Princeton's field goal attempts this season have been three-pointers. The Tigers, though, have struggled from beyond the arc in league play when they are shooting just 31.2 percent.
In nine Ivy games, the Quakers (7-16, 4-5 Ivy) are shooting 56.7 percent on two-point shots and 23.6 percent from three-point range. Penn features the two most accurate shooters in the league in Darien Nelson-Henry, who is shooting 57.6 percent from the field, and Fran Dougherty, who makes 56.9 percent of his shots. Tony Hicks (15.5 ppg.) leads the team in scoring. Miles Cartwright is the top outside threat with 42 three-pointers.
Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity