Yale men notch second three-point victory over Harvard in five days

Sharpshooting Yale senior guard Azar Swain (5) hit just one three-pointer in two games against Harvard the past five days. But the Bulldogs’ defense propelled them past their archrivals for three-point victories in both contests.  (Photo by Erica Denhoff)

Entering this month, Yale had gone nearly six years without beating Harvard in the regular season.

Now they’ve pulled it off twice in five days.

Little changed from the Bulldogs’ scintillating 58-55 win on Saturday at John J. Lee Amphitheater to the 62-59 win at Lavietes Pavilion last night.

Yale led 27-14 at the half Saturday and 32-26 Wednesday night.

Harvard stormed back in both contests, only to be stymied by a characteristically stingy Yale defense.

Yale held every Crimson player in check on Saturday except Noah Kirkwood and everyone except Mason Forbes Wednesday night.

Forbes registered a career-high 22 points. Kirkwood was held to nine last night, more than eight below his third-leading Ivy average.

Harvard went inside to Forbes early and led 7-3 on seven Forbes points. Yale then went up 23-13 on 9-for-14 shooting and 30-17 on an Azar Swain trey.

Harvard then reeled off a 9-0 run, fueled by treys from Kale Catchings and Evan Nelson.

The teams combined for only 2-for-18 shooting to close out the half.

Yale opened strong in the second half and led 48-34 on a Matt Cotton 15-footer at the 10:28 mark.

Harvard cut it to 53-49 after a three and two free throws from Kirkwood and then 60-59 on a Forbes bucket.

But Luka Sakota missed a three-pointer at the buzzer that would have tied the game.

Kirkwood became the 37th member of the Harvard 1,000-point club in the first half.

Jalen Gabbidon led Yale with 19 points, while Matt Knowling added 10 tallies.

”It feels good to win this game,” Yale coach James Jones said. “It’s hard to win on the road.”

It was the first time since 1963 in which Yale and Harvard played back-to-back games. The matchup also marked a night in which both Jones brothers, James and former Columbia coach Joe Jones, won narrow games in the same city. The latter Jones is now coach at Boston University, which topped Army, 75-74.

Yale is now 13-9 and leads the Ivy with a 7-1 conference record. Harvard fell to 11-9 overall and 3-5 in league play. The Crimson are in a battle with Cornell for the last Ivy tourney berth and on the outside looking in.