Yale men roll to another Ivy League title

On Saturday, it will be exactly five years since one of the toughest nights in recent Yale men’s basketball history. Leading by five points in the final minute against a Dartmouth team that was playing just for pride, the Bulldogs lost in perhaps the most excruciating manner possible: a buzzer-beater by Gabas Maldunas off an inbound play. The Ivy League title trophy – set to be awarded to Yale – was quickly covered and hustled out of Leede Arena and Hanover. 

After losing a tiebreaker to Harvard the following week, their NCAA Tournament drought reached 53 years, and – having graduated four contributing seniors – who knew when they would get another chance the way Harvard and Princeton were trending?

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Yale men continue success against Princeton, remain atop Ivy standings

NEW HAVEN – The hegemony over Princeton continues for Yale at John J. Lee Amphitheater.
The Elis defeated the Tigers, 66-63, Yale’s sixth straight win in the series. The win also marks the ninth home weekend sweep of Princeton and Penn. To put this into historical context, Penn leads the overall series by 151-82 and Princeton leads it now 150-84.

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Yale avoids letdown at Columbia in 83-65 win

 It had all the makings of a perfect storm.
The almost five-hour drive from Cornell to Columbia at 10 p.m. The double overtime expenditure of energy in Newman Arena that preceded it. Yale was ripe for the taking.
Until it wasn’t.

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Yale men complete sweep of Brown

It was the Paul Atkinson and Matthue Cotton show at the Pizzitola Sports Center in Providence, as Yale completed the sweep of Brown with a 73-62 win Friday night.
Both teams opened up cold from the field, and turnovers were the order of the day in the early going.
Yale coach James Jones brought Cotton in and the quick shooting sophomore guard from New Jersey hit four of his first five three-point shots to distance the league-leading Bulldogs from the Bears.
Yale led 33-25 at the half. Yale’s trademark defense forced high-scoring Brown into numerous off balance threes. The Bears focused largely on Jordan Bruner, who had torched Brown in New Haven.
The second half saw more of the same, as Atkinson scored inside on some nifty feeds and Cotton and dagger-shooting Azar Swain from the outside.
Reserve Wyatt Yess had another solid game for Yale with seven key rebounds.
Brown cut the deficit to six on two occasions late in the game, but an inside move by Atkinson and a three by Swain from the parking lot ended Brown’s bid.
Atkinson finished with 24 and Cotton with a career-high 20, with 15 coming in the first half. Bruner was held to two and had eight rebounds to lead Yale. Eric Monroe and Swain had 10 each.
“Really impressed with our team,” Jones said. “I knew Brown would be ready and give us their best. Our young men stepped up to the challenge.”
Brandon Anderson led Brown with 20 points and Tamenang Choh chipped in with 11 and a game-leading 12 rebounds.

Yale now sits at 14-4, 2-0 Ivy and Brown at 7-8, 0-2.
Both teams start Ivy back-to-backs next weekend, with Columbia at Yale and Cornell at Brown on Friday evening.

Q&A with Yale guard Matt Cotton

Matt Cotton is averaging 8.2 points and 2.6 rebounds per game this season through 12 games. (Yale Athletics)

Matt Cotton is a Yale sophomore guard from Voorhees, N.J., where he was an all-state player. He is currently averaging 8.2 points per game in a key reserve role for the young Elis. He notched 13 points in Yale’s overtime win at UMass Wednesday. 

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Ivy Madness: An appreciation

Constance Cotton and her son, Yale first-year guard Matthue Cotton, with Yale first-year forward Isaiah Kelly and his mother Beverly (from left), as they share a moment of familial celebration on the floor of the John J. Lee Amphitheater following the Bulldogs’ 97-85 championship victory over Harvard in Sunday’s Ivy League Tournament final. (Photo courtesy of Constance Cotton)

With the Yale men and the Princeton women winning their respective divisions on Sunday, another Ivy League Tournament is in the books.  Here are a few of my personal highlights that were not found on the television or the box scores:

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Yale men add to its deep roster to make a run at the league title

The Yale men’s basketball team finished 2016-17 third in the Ivy League regular season, but a semifinal upset of rival Harvard propelled them into a runner-up spot in the inaugural Ivy Tournament. With the expected return of 2015-16 first team All-Ivy point guard Makai Mason from a major foot injury, the Bulldogs were expected to be in the thick of last year’s race. While the team was chosen second to the Crimson by only three points in the preseason media poll, Yale actually had two more first-place votes. Unfortunately, Mason and forward Jordan Bruner both sustained injuries in the preseason that effectively kept them on the bench for the entirety of the 2017-18 campaign.

Despite those major blows and a 2-4 start to league play, coach James Jones was able to rally his Elis (16-15 overall, 9-5 Ivy) to a second consecutive third-place showing. While Yale defeated co-champion Penn by one point in New Haven on the regular season’s penultimate evening, the Quakers ended the Bulldogs season with a 80-57 victory at the Palestra in the Ivy Tournament semifinal. For 2018-19, Yale will add a class of five first-years to a squad that will return its entire starting lineup and Bruner (8.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 22.4 minutes per game in ’16-’17). Even if the team cannot stay healthy, their depth allows them to be a good bet to stay in the conference’s upper division for the 19th straight season. If the coach can get his squad to avoid the injury bug (maybe skip the scrimmage against brother Joe Jones’ Boston University, where Mason and Bruner were both injured in successive seasons), a regular season and postseason title should be within their grasp.

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