Yale Can Punch Ticket To March Madness With Win Saturday At Columbia Or Princeton Loss At Dartmouth
ITHACA, N.Y. – Twenty-eight minutes of near flawless basketball Friday at Cornell has Yale on the verge of history.
The Bulldogs, who had a two-point lead with eight minutes left in the first half, outscored the Big Red 66-44 the rest of the way on their way to a dominant 88-64 victory at Newman Arena.
The win, coupled with Princeton's 73-71 loss to Harvard, earned Yale at least a share of the Ivy League title. The Bulldogs can punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament with a victory at Columbia on Saturday or a Princeton loss at Dartmouth.
The early 6 p.m. tip allowed the team to watch the end of the Princeton-Harvard game on the bus to Columbia. Huddled around any laptop/phone that had a strong enough WiFi signal, a big cheer erupted when the Crimson had secured the victory.
There was much less drama in the win over Cornell. Six players scored in double figures, led by Brandon Sherrod who scored 18 points. Makai Mason and Khaliq Ghani both added 12 points. Anthony Dallier scored 11, and Alex Copeland and Sam Downey had 10 apiece.
"We didn't seem to find our flow until about midway through the first half," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of the Bulldogs.
From there, Yale ran it offense to near perfection. The Bulldogs closed the first half with an 18-2 run and then shot nearly 70 percent (18-of-26) from the field in the second half.
Yale's largest lead was 30 with three minutes left.
Sherrod, who earlier this season set an NCAA single-season record by making 30 straight field goals, had another perfect night, finishing 6-of-6 from the field.
"My teammates put me in great position," he said. "Other teams always pay a lot of attention to Justin [Sears]. We just tried to spread them out."
Sears, Yale's leading scorer, had only five points but contributed with 10 rebounds, four assists and an emphatic block.
Yale again dominated on the glass, outrebounding the Big Red 39-26.
The Bulldogs (21-6, 12-1 Ivy) have won 16 of their last 17 games.
Matt Morgan paced the Big Red (9-18, 2-11 Ivy) with 12 points.
The Ivy League title is the second straight for Yale, which shared last year's crown with Harvard. It's the first back-to-back championships for the Bulldogs since 1962 and '63.
Yale is seeking its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1962, which is before Jones was born.
"We don't really think much about that," he said. "What happens is that there are people around us that have been around Yale basketball that long that talk to us and make it more meaningful. But for us, we're just trying to win a couple of basketball games here."
One more victory, and Yale will end a long run of frustration. Sears doesn't expect any change in Yale's approach.
"We've tried to play each game as a championship game," he said.
NOTES: Ghani's 12 points were a career high… Yale's bench outscored Cornell's reserves 39-27… The Bulldogs were 11-of-23 from three-point range… The Big Red was just 3-of-18 from beyond the arc… Copeland's 10 points came in only nine minutes… Yale has a chance to equal the school record for Ivy League wins Saturday. The 1962 team went 13-1 in league play… The 12 Ivy wins tie the 1957 team for the second most in school history… Saturday's game at Columbia a 7 p.m. tip and can only be viewed on the Ivy League Digital Network.