Yale men hold off Harvard to sweep season series again

Junior forward Matt Knowling led all scorers with 18 points on 9-for-13 shooting in 35 minutes in Yale’s win over Harvard Friday. (Photo by Erica Denhoff)

Yale men’s basketball picked up where its scorching hot hands left off last Saturday against Princeton, building a 19-point second-half lead and surviving a late comeback rush from Harvard to notch a 68-57 win at Lavietes Pavilion.

Harvard (12-10, 3-5 Ivy) had trailed 48-29 with 16:25 remaining but in the next 14 minutes of game seized enough momentum to trail by just five points, 62-57. Yale salted away the game from the free-throw line in the final minute after a defensive clampdown.

Yale (15-6, 5-3) shot 51.5% from the field in the first half and held Harvard to six field goals and no three-pointers. Sophomore guard John Poulakidas had 11 points at intermission on 3-for-5 shooting from three. He finished with 13 points.

Tommy Amaker shook up his lineup in the second half, starting freshman Chandler Pigge over team scoring leader Chris Ledlum, who was held to three first-half points. The Crimson played more of a pressure-trapping defense and made a concerted effort to get the ball inside to junior forward Justice Ajogbor. It worked somewhat, as the Bulldogs were limited to 41.7% shooting.

The Crimson couldn’t close the gap under five points in a game in which both teams struggled to shoot from deep, going a combined 8-for-28 (28.6%) from beyond the arc.

”[That was] a great team win, always difficult to win a league road game,” Yale coach James Jones said. “But our guys stayed together and [gave] a tremendous defensive effort for 40 minutes.”

Yale outrebounded Harvard, 33-27. The Bulldogs are 11th nationally in rebounding differential.

Junior forward Matt Knowling led Yale in scoring with 18 on 9-for-13 shooting. Senior forward EJ Jarvis added 12 points, while Ajogbor posted 12 to lead Harvard. Ledlum finished with 10 points on 3-for-11 shooting in 29 minutes. The Bulldogs swept the season series with their archrival for the second year in a row.

Yale travels to Hanover to face Dartmouth Saturday in a revenge game, as the Big Green defeated Yale at John J. Lee Amphitheater in January. Harvard hosts Brown.