Yale men’s basketball bests Harvard, 80-60

Yale men’s basketball picked the right time of the year to peak.

The Bulldogs thrashed Harvard, 80-60, at John J. Lee Amphitheater Saturday night to move to persist in sharing the Ivy League’s top slot with Princeton.

“We had as good a start to finish as we have had in a long time,” coach James Jones said.

Yale (20-8, 11-2 Ivy) opened up an early 18-3 lead on a layup by sophomore frontcourt anchor Danny Wolf.

Harvard (14-12, 5-8) cut the deficit to 19-17 on a jumper by sophomore forward Chisom Okpara.

A Wolf trey put Yale up 30-23 and two Okpara free throws made it 30-27.

Sophomore forward Nick Townsend made a driving layup to put Yale up 38-27 and a junior guard John Poulakidas trey gave Yale a 44-30 halftime lead.

Yale shot 58% for the half.

A Townsend free throw put Yale up 49-31 and the Bulldogs never looked back.

Yale junior guard and reigning Ivy Defensive Player of the Year Bez Mbeng held Harvard leading scorer freshman guard Malik Mack (17.5 points per game) to eight points on 3-for-14 shooting.

Mbeng is playing more and more like a pure point guard than a combo guard. He dished 10 assists, many of which dazzled the sellout crowd.

“Bez was tremendous,” Jones said. “He flew around today like I have never seen him play.”

Tommy Amaker said that “they’re (Yale) an outstanding team,”  Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. “They have great balance.”

Yale had nine players log five or more minutes and five players score eight or more points.

Wolf posted his 13th double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Mbeng delivered his own double-double with 10 points and 10 assists.

Townsend came off the bench and contributed 14 points in 16 minutes on 6-for-7 shooting.

A tenacious Yale defense held Harvard to 38% shooting.

Harvard is at Dartmouth at 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Yale hosts Brown at noon on Saturday in a Senior Day showdown.