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ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Yale holds off Princeton, 5-1 in Ivy

By Bill Cloutier
Assistant Sports Editor
bcloutier@nhregister.com
NEW HAVEN -- Yale’s loss to Harvard a week ago made this weekend’s games imperative. The Bulldogs’ men’s basketball team had to sweep powerhouses Penn and Princeton if they were to truly contend for an Ivy League crown.
Mission accomplished.

Reggie Willhite and Greg Mangano both scored 20 points and Yale held off a late rally to defeat Princeton 58-54 before 2,175 fans at the Lee Amphitheater Saturday night. The win, Yale’s third straight, moves them to 15-5 overall and 5-1 in the Ivy League. Harvard leads the league at 6-0 and both teams have eight games left.
“It feels amazing,” Yale captain Reggie Willhite said. “Coach told us before the game how Princeton had beaten us five straight times. We knew how important it was to get a Penn-Princeton sweep. It’s always one of the most difficult parts of the season and to win both of them at home feels great.”
Princeton, one of the preseason favorites in the league, fell to 11-10 overall and 2-3 in the Ivy. The Tigers were led by Ian Hummer with 18 points. Mack Darrow had 11 and Patrick Saunders had 10.
Yale was fantastic in the first half. The Bulldogs took a 32-23 lead into the break despite shooting 2-for-10 from 3-point range. The rest of their game, however, was precise led by Willhite, who had 13 points at the break. Yale’s defense held Princeton without a point for nearly 10 minutes.
“We re-geared after Harvard,” Willhite said. “Everybody understood what this weekend meant, myself included, and we played pretty well.”
The Bulldogs opened up the advantage to a dozen early in the second half but it seemed like they wanted to put the game away from the 3-point line. Yale missed five straight shots from long range in a scoreless span of nearly five minutes.
While the stretch didn’t hurt them much on the scoreboard, Jones said the offense went stagnant and Princeton finally began to chip away. Hummer led the charge scoring 10 straight Tiger points and Princeton eventually closed the gap to 53-51 on a putback by Darrow with 1:08 to play.
“I still felt pretty good,” Jones said. “We maintained the lead for the most part. I just felt we took some ill-advised shots but what’s anchored us all weekend was our defense.”
Yale didn’t buckle and Jeremiah Kreisberg made two free throws on the next trip to extend the lead to four. Princeton, which missed several open 3-pointers in the second half, never got closer than three points in the final minute and never had the ball with a chance to tie the game. The Tigers shot 33 percent from the field in the game.
“Our guys did a good job of staying focused and we did all that was necessary to win the game,” Jones said. “We got a little tight in the second half and we stopped trying to win the game and instead tried to manage it.
“We haven’t been in that situation in games, to manage the lead.”
Kreisberg played his best game in weeks for the Bulldogs. The sophomore forward from Berkeley, Calif., scored nine points and two took charges.
“I texted him last night and told him I have great confidence in him and he was going to have a good game today,” Jones said. “He’s been in a little bit of a haze but he got himself out of it. He knows he’s a good player. He just needs to make sure he has the confidence.”
It was the fifth time in Jones’ tenure at Yale that he’s swept the weekend series against Penn and Princeton. The Bulldogs, who are 9-1 at home, now play four straight games on the road capped by a Feb. 18 trip to first-place Harvard.
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