PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island – The Ivy League has produced its share of surprise winners in the NCAA Tournament. It can add Yale to that list of bracket spoilers.
Makai Mason had a career-high 31 points, including six of Yale’s final nine points, and the No. 12 seed Bulldogs held on to upset No. 5 seed Baylor 79-75 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.
Yale (23-6) earns its first NCAA Tournament victory. It comes in its first appearance since 1962.
“This was bigger than us, and we wanted to do it for all the Yale faithful out there,” said senior Justin Sears. “”It’s great right now. I don’t think it’s really hit us how big this is yet.”
Afterward, the Bulldogs celebrated like a team that had been waiting 54 years to play in the big dance.
When the final horn sounded, coach James Jones walked across the floor with his arms raised. Stopping in front a cheering throng of Yale fans, he slammed both hands down on the scorer’s table before again lifting his arms high.
Since Cornell made a Cinderella run to the Sweet 16 in 2010, Ivy League teams have gone 4-3 in first-round games. That Cornell team, coincidentally, was also a No. 12 seed. The Bulldogs advance to face fourth-seeded Duke on Saturday. Sears added 18 points. Brandon Sherrod finished with 10.
The Bulldogs controlled the game from the opening tap, and suffocated a Baylor defense with its quickness and nullified its advantage inside with methodical movement on offense.
Mason was the catalyst, connecting on nine of his 18 field goal attempts, and going a perfect 11-for-11 from the free throw line.
For Baylor (22-12), it is the second straight first-round exit from the tournament.
Taurean Prince led Baylor (22-12) with 28 points. Johnathan Motley finished with 15 points and seven rebounds.
Expelled Yale captain Jack Montague, dismissed last month because of a sexual assault allegation, was in the stands for the game. Sitting with a bunch of fans across from the Yale bench, Montague said he was there as a fan to cheer for his teammates but declined further comment.
No. 4 Duke 93, No. 13 UNC Wilmington 85: In Providence, Marshall Plumlee ditched the mask guarding his broken nose and responded by scoring a career-high 23 points to lead the defending national champions past UNC Wilmington.
No. 1 Virginia 81, No. 16 Hampton 45: In Raleigh, North Carolina, Anthony Gill scored 19 points and Virginia hammered Hampton.
Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett collapsed and was taken to the locker room late in the first half. Virginia reported that Bennett was dehydrated, and he was back for the second half.
No. 3 Utah 80, No. 14 Fresno State 69: In Denver, sophomore 213-cm big man Jakob Poeltl scored 16 points and pulled down a career-high 18 rebounds as Utah held off feisty Fresno State.
No. 4 Iowa State 94, No. 13 Iona 81: In Denver, Monte Morris showed no lingering effects of his right shoulder injury, scoring 20 points and dishing out eight assists in Iowa State’s win over Iona.
No. 12 Little Rock 85, No. 5 Purdue 83 (2OT): In Denver, Little Rock is advancing thanks to an out-of-nowhere comeback that led to a win over Purdue.
Josh Hagins sent the game into overtime with a shot from the edge of the midcourt logo, and then into double OT with an arcing shot off glass over an outstretched defender.
The 185-cm senior finished with 31 points, including six in the second overtime.
No. 11 Gonzaga 68, No. 6 Seton Hall 52: In Denver, Gonzaga is moving on in the NCAA Tournament after pulling away from Seton Hall behind 21 points and 16 rebounds from Domantas Sabonis.
No. 9 Butler 71, No. 8 Texas Tech 61: In Raleigh, Kelan Martin scored all 11 of his points in the final 8½ minutes, including consecutive 3s to break a tie game, to help Butler beat Texas Tech.
No. 1 Kansas 105, No. 16 Austin Peay 79: In Des Moines, Iowa, Svi Mykhailiuk scored a career-high 23 points, Perry Ellis added 21 and Kansas throttled Austin Peay.
No. 3 Miami 79, No. 14 Buffalo 72: In Providence, Angel Rodriguez had 24 points and seven rebounds as Miami held on to defeat Buffalo.
No. 11 Wichita State 65, No. 6 Arizona 55: In Providence, Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker combined for 29 points and Wichita State’s swarming defense did the rest as the Shockers beat Arizona.
No. 9 Connecticut 74, No. 8 Colorado 67: In Des Moines, Rodney Purvis, Daniel Hamilton and a stifling defense carried Connecticut back from an 11-point first-half deficit.
No. 1 North Carolina 83, No. 16 Florida Gulf Coast 67: In Raleigh, Brice Johnson scored 18 points and North Carolina needed an overwhelming second-half start to put away Florida Gulf Coast.
No. 4 Kentucky 85, No. 13 Stony Brook 57: In Des Moines, Jamal Murray led five players in double figures with 19 points and Kentucky routed Stony Brook, setting up a showdown with rival Indiana in the second round.
No. 5 Indiana 99, No. 12 Chattanooga 74: In Des Moines, Yogi Ferrell had 20 points and a season-high 10 assists, O.G. Anunoby scored 14 points and the Hoosiers took charge of their tourney opener.
No. 9 Providence 70, No. 8 USC 69: In Raleigh, Rodney Bullock hit a layup with 1.5 seconds left for Providence.