Yale men’s basketball notches comeback win over Cornell in battle of Ivy unbeatens

Yale men’s basketball coach James Jones described his team’s 80-78 home win over Cornell in a high-stakes clash of Ivy unbeatens Saturday as “helter skelter.”

The last 40 seconds of the game epitomized that.

Cornell senior guard Chris Manon hit a 5-foot jumper over Yale sophomore center Danny Wolf to give the Big Red a 78-77 lead with 27.9 seconds remaining. Yale junior guard John Poulakidas then got called for a questionable charge.

Cornell (17-4, 6-1 Ivy) turned the ball over and Yale (16-6, 7-0) took possession. Yale junior guard Bez Mbeng missed a highly contested 10-footer and Yale senior forward Matt Knowling snared the rebound. Wolf was starting to drive to the basket and appeared out of control, causing Jones to call a timeout with less than five seconds remaining. Jones drew up an out-of-bounds play with three options, and when a play for Wolf was unavailable, as was one for Poulakidas, Mbeng inbounded to Knowling, who banked in a 7-footer with 3.2 ticks remaining. Knowling was fouled and made the free throw to give Yale the hard-fought victory.

Cornell coach Brian Earl complimented Jones on the effective timeout call and called Yale “the class of the league.”

Cornell had led 39-24 off after senior guard Isaiah Gray made two free throws with 4:53 remaining in the first half.

The Bulldogs clawed back and cut the lead to 46-38 on a Mbeng free throw with one second left in the first frame. Cornell was 7-for-13 in three-pointers in the half. Yale was only 1-for-10.

Wolf almost singlehandedly kept Yale in the game in the half with 19 points on 9-for-14 shooting. Wolf picked up his second foul with 6:40 left in the half and Yale down 33-22. Jones kept Wolf in the game and it paid off, as his defense helped to stem the potent Cornell first-half offensive tide.

Earl called the 7-foot Wolf ”very skilled for that size. Impressive.”

Cornell maintained its lead in the second half until a Wolf drive to the basket knotted the score at 71 with 3:34 left. A lay-in by senior guard August Mahoney gave Yale the lead at 76-74 with 2:35 left.

”I am extremely proud to have our guys fight back the way they did,” Jones said. Cornell is a tough team to play.”

Yale (16-6),7-0) has now won nine straight games and is one of only two teams in the country to be undefeated in league play, along with St. Mary’s of the WCC.

What had been a Cornell seven-game winning streak is no more.

Yale outrebounded Cornell 41-20 and 17-3 on the offensive glass.

 The Bulldogs shot 46.7% from the field while the Big Red were 54.5%.

Manon led Cornell with 22 points on 9-for-11 shooting from the field in 28 minutes. Junior guard Nazir Williams posted 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting in 29 minutes.

Yale plays at Penn Friday at 7 p.m. in the second Ivy back-to-back weekend of the season. Cornell hosts Harvard at 6 p.m. Friday.

Cornell and Yale will face each other again in Ithaca Fri., Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. in a game likely to have further Ivy League championship implications. Stay tuned.

1 thought on “Yale men’s basketball notches comeback win over Cornell in battle of Ivy unbeatens”

  1. Crushing loss for my Big Red but they played a great game and will bounce back next weekend with two straight home games.

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