Sands’ Last Second Dunk Lifts Yale Past Hartford, 48-46

Michael Sands' game-winning dunk. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Michael Sands' game-winning dunk. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Bulldogs Rally From Early 13-Point Deficit

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. - Alex Zampier has clearly established himself as a big time scorer, but late in close games, it has been his unselfishness and ability to find the open man that has led to victories. It happened that way in a key moment in a win over Elon and again on Wednesday in an even bigger moment against Hartford. Zampier fed Michael Sands, whose emphatic dunk with two seconds left snapped a 46-46 tie and lifted Yale to a thrilling 48-46 victory over the Hawks before a stunned crowd of 1,053 at Chase Arena.

"Al is our go-to guy. My guy helped on him, and he made the pass," said Sands, who finished with seven points and six rebounds. "I was in the right place at the right time."

Joe Zeglinski's driving layup had tied the score with 12 seconds remaining. Zeglinski was fouled on the play but missed the free throw. Alex Zampier brought the ball up court for the Bulldogs, drove to the basket and dished off to Sands, who finished.

"I knew I had 10 seconds left," said Zampier, who is averaging 19.8 points. "It was a bang-bang play. I was contested so I was able to drop it off to Mike."

Zampier led Yale with 15 points. Paul Nelson added 10 points and 11 rebounds, his first career double-double. Nelson, who had missed four of the last five games with an ankle injury, made all four of his shots from the field.

"Being able to go inside to Paul is important," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball. "It makes things easier for Mike [Sands] because he's not the only big guy on the floor."

Morgan Sabia paced the Hawks with 15 points, while Zeglinski had 12 points and six rebounds.

As has been the case in a number of games this year, the Bulldogs started slowly, missing their first 12 shots and falling behind 13-0.

"This was probably our best bad start," Zampier said. "We were getting good shots. They just weren't falling. We had spent a lot of time in practice working on running our offense and getting touches for our big guys."

Yale (3-5) got back in the game quickly, pulling to within 15-14 on Sands's jumper from the top of the key. Hartford built the lead back to eight, but the Bulldogs closed the first half with a 5-2 run to trail 24-19 at the intermission.

Yale took its first lead, 34-33, on two Sands free throws midway through the second half. Zampier's three-pointer with 2:31 left gave the Bulldogs their biggest lead, 45-39. Zeglinski, though, answered with a three-pointer to help set up the dramatic finish.

There were five ties and five lead changes in the second half.

"We fought the whole game," Jones said. "It was like pushing a rock up a hill, but it was nice to finally get to the top."

Yale outrebounded the Hawks 38-26 and held them to 40.9 percent from the field.

The Bulldogs are off until Monday night when they host Vermont at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity