In recent University Athletic Association action over the weekend, the men’s basketball team continued to prove their poise and strength at the Palestra by claiming their fourth straight game — and 19th at home — in a 62-53 victory over the dominant New York University Violets.
Neither the Yellowjackets nor the Violets — a potent squad that totes the nation’s No. 16 ranking — were able to get much going offensively in the first half. Lead changes were in abundance for much of this period, with the Violets up 11-10 after nine minutes of neck-and-neck action.
At this point, senior guard Chris Dende and UR’s shooting game woke up to the tune of a 10-2 run that gave the ’Jackets a comfortable 20-13 cushion. Dende scored four points in the span. However, the daunting defensive presence of NYU big man Max Wein — three blocks — shed the home crowd and the Yellowjackets’ offense for the rest of the half, as the Violets were quick to respond with a 15-6 run of their own. The ’Jackets clung to a narrow 2-point advantage (28-26) heading into the break.
Eager to pump up the crowd and their explosive offense — which only two days before had been the difference in a 76-61 trouncing of Brandeis University — the Yellowjackets came out firing on all cylinders in the second half.
Dende again kick-started the ’Jackets offense with two free throws that ignited a 20-4 charge less than a minute into the half. The run was a balanced team effort, as six Yellowjackets weighed in during the crucial six minutes, all adding up to an 18-point UR advantage (48-30) with 11:38 remaining.
The visitors would not be brushed aside that easily, however. Center Andy Stein paced the Violets with seven points in a 17-4 run, loosening the ’Jackets’ grip on the game to a meager five points.
UR junior center Rob Reid and the Violets’ forward Carl Yaffe delivered for their respective teams in the following minutes to keep the game close with 1:15 to play, but ultimately it was ’Jackets’ junior guard John DiBartolomeo who closed out NYU. DiBartolomeo tallied his team’s final six points in a clutch performance that handed the Violets what is only their fourth loss this season.
The Yellowjackets are on the road this weekend as they face Case Western Reserve University on Feb. 17 and Carnegie Mellon University on Feb. 19 before returning home to close out the regular season against the 18-4 Emory University.