Bulldogs Knock Off First Place Cornell 72-60

Feb. 20, 2009

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - For the second straight Friday, Yale knocked off the first-place team in the Ivy League. Alex Zampier scored 15 points, one of four starters in double figures, as the Bulldogs rallied to beat defending Ivy champion Cornell 72-60 before an enthusiastic crowd of 1,905 at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.

Last week, Yale led almost the whole way in handing Princeton its first league loss, 60-48. This one was a little more difficult. The Big Red (17-8, 7-2 Ivy) led 41-34 with 18 minutes remaining, but the Bulldogs scored 11 straight points, the final three coming on a Porter Braswell three-pointer that gave them a 45-41 lead.

The score was tied at 49-49 with nine minutes left, but Yale seized control with an 11-5 run over the next three minutes, capped by a Braswell layup. Cornell got back within four, 60-56, but the Bulldogs scored the next five points, including an emphatic Paul Nelson dunk that made it 65-56 with 3:11 remaining. The lead grew to 14, 72-58, when Zampier hit two free throws with 1:02 left.

Yale's starting front court of Ross Morin, Travis Pinick and Garrett Fiddler combined to score 29 points and grab 20 rebounds. The Bulldogs outrebounded Cornell 35-33 in the game.

"I told the team before the game that if we outrebounded them, we'd win," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball, "but it was much more than that. Everybody contributed tonight."

Pinick finished with 14 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Morin added 12 points and eight rebounds, Chris Andrews had 10 points, including three three-pointers, and four assists, while Fiddler had three points and six rebounds.

The Bulldogs (10-13, 5-4 Ivy) also got a major contribution from their bench, which outscored Cornell's 18-5. Nelson had eight points and five rebounds in 16 minutes, Braswell scored five points and dished out three assists, while Jordan Gibson added three points and Michael Sands scored two.

Friday was a far cry from the first meeting between the teams in January when Cornell led 34-13 at halftime and cruised to a 64-36 victory.

"The biggest thing was our offensive execution," Pinick said. "We didn't do a good job of running our offense in the first game."

Ryan Wittman paced the Big Red with 21 points. He was 8 of 15 from the field, including 5 of 8 from beyond the three-point arc.

"As a team I thought we did a good job defensively," said Pinick, who spent much of the night guarding Wittman. "He's a good player who is going to get his shots. We did a lot of switching and hedging out on screens."

Cornell entered the night leading the league in field goal percentage, but shot only 38.3 percent from the field, including 34.5 percent in the second half.

Louis Dale, last year's Ivy Player of the Year, finished with only seven points on 3 of 12 shooting from the field.

Yale scored the first six points of the game and led 22-15 when Pinick made two free throws with 6:30 left in the first half. The Big Red answered with a 15-4 run and led 34-32 at the intermission.

The Bulldogs will try to complete a weekend sweep when they host Columbia on Saturday. The Lions defeated Brown 70-57 on Friday. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised live on the YES Network (DirecTV Channel 631).

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity