Strong First Half Lifts Sacred Heart Past Yale

Austin Morgan. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Austin Morgan. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Braswell Scores Career High 20 Points For Bulldogs

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The first semester at Yale officially ended on Saturday, but the Yale men's basketball team still had one last lesson to learn before departing for a short, holiday break. It takes a full 40 minutes to be successful on the court. The Bulldogs couldn't overcome a sluggish first half in which they committed 14 turnovers and shot just 31.8 percent from the field. The result was a 71-62 loss to Sacred Heart at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.

"We were very lackluster in the first half and didn't take care of the ball," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball. "They were playing a switching man-to-man defense and we didn't adjust."

The Pioneers led 38-21 at the intermission. Yale (5-5) got as close as six in the second half and had one opportunity late to make it a one possession game but couldn't capitalize.

Porter Braswell scored 17 of his career-high 20 points over the final 20 minutes to spark the comeback. Greg Mangano added 14 points and 12 rebounds, his third double-double of the season. Reggie Willhite and Austin Morgan each scored 10 points.

Because of final exams, Yale hadn't played since a 75-53 victory over Bryant on Dec. 8.

"You don't have the same rhythm when you've been off, but I don't want to make any excuses," Jones said. "Sacred Heart had final exams too."

The Pioneers, who have won three straight, were led by Shane Gibson's 23 points. He was 8-of-16 from the field. Chris Evans added 18 points in 26 minutes off the bench.

Sacred Heart's bench outscored Yale's 28-2.

The Pioneers took their biggest lead of the game, 42-21, on Gibson's layup early in the second half. The lead was 16 when Braswell went to work getting Yale back in the game. He scored 12 of the Bulldogs' next 14 points in a little over five minutes. His three-pointer with 9:50 remaining cut the deficit to 54-47.

"I just took what the defense gave me," said Braswell, who hit two three-pointers in the stretch and also made a couple of driving layups. "I was open so I just focused on executing."

"Porter was a one-man comeback show," Jones said.

Sacred Heart (4-7) stretched the lead back to 11, but the Bulldogs had one more run left. A Morgan free throw pulled Yale back within six with 47 seconds left. After a Willhite steal, Morgan missed a three-pointer that would have cut the deficit to three with 35 seconds left.

Evans then made two free throws with 29 seconds remaining to seal the victory for the Pioneers.

NOTES: After the sloppy first half, the Bulldogs had just four turnovers in the final 20 minutes… Yale finished 4-of-15 on three-pointers. Braswell made all four Yale treys… Sacred Heart outrebounded the Bulldogs 35-31… The loss was Yale's first of the season at home… The players headed home for the holiday after the game. The team will meet up in Palo Alto, Calif., on Dec. 26… Yale plays at Stanford on Dec. 28.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity