By Ryan Mayer
(CBS) There’s a first time for everything.
The Yale Bulldogs had previously made three appearances in the NCAA Tournament, and had never come away with a win. That changed today in Providence, just over 100 miles from their campus as the 12th seeded Bulldogs took down the 5th seeded Baylor Bears 79 to 75.
In each of their previous appearances, the closest Yale came to winning was back in 1939 when they fell by just four 71-67 to Illinois. Today, coach Johnny Jones’ team would not be denied, as they picked up the school’s first ever win and in doing so, advance to play the 4th seeded Duke Blue Devils in the Round of 32.
The Bulldogs led through much of the game, taking a 39-34 advantage into the halftime break. Baylor was able to make it close in the second half, cutting actually taking a 40-39 lead out of the break. But, Yale answered with a quick 6-0 burst of their own to regain a 45-40 lead. The Bulldogs then never trailed again, though the Bears made it anxious late cutting it to 76-75 on a three by Taurean Prince with 12.9 seconds left. But, Nick Victor was able to hit one of two free throws, before Lester Medford turned the ball over on Baylor’s last possession and Brandon Sherrod iced the game with two free throws.
Yale was led by sophomore guard Makai Mason who had 31 points on 9-18 shooting and was a perfect 11-11 from the charity stripe. He got plenty of help from senior forward Justin Sears, who chipped in 18 points, four rebounds and four assists of his own. Perhaps most importantly, the Bulldogs won the battle of the glass, out-rebounding Baylor 35-30. Neither team shot particularly well from the three point line both finishing under 38% (Baylor 37.5, Yale 31.3).
Baylor’s star was Prince, who scored 25 points on 11-23 shooting including 3-6 from deep. His fellow senior Rico Gathers was never able to find his offensive game as he logged just six points on 3-8 shooting from the field. The Bulldogs strength down low kept him off the boards for the most part too, holding him to just four rebounds, a full five below his season average.
Yale will face the Blue Devils in the Round of 32 on Saturday.