Morgan’s Overtime Heroics Lift Yale Past Holy Cross

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

Three-Point Play With 6.2 Seconds Left Is The Game-Winner

WORCESTER, Mass. – Yale and Holy Cross have both played a number of close games so far this season, so perhaps it wasn't surprising that an extra period was needed to decide the outcome when the teams met Wednesday at the Hart Center. Austin Morgan made a driving layup, was fouled and hit the free throw with 6.2 seconds to lift the Bulldogs to a thrilling 77-76 overtime victory over the Crusaders.

Holy Cross led by four after Jordan Steven's layup with 30 seconds left in overtime. Porter Braswell answered with a driving layup for the Bulldogs. Andrew Beinert then missed two free throws with 18 seconds left, setting up Morgan's heroics. Morgan got by his defender, drove to the basket and floated a one-handed layup off the backboard. When he swished the free throw, the Bulldogs had the lead.

"They had been playing me pretty tight all game," said Morgan, who scored seven of his team-high 17 points in the overtime. "I was able to get in the lane and fortunately was able to finish. I didn't feel much pressure on the free throw. I just tried to keep my same routine."

Still, the Bulldogs had to sweat out Holy Cross's last possession. Stevens got off a well-contested three-pointer from the baseline as time expired, but it clanked off the back of the rim.

There were 15 ties and 15 lead changes in the game. Holy Cross's biggest lead was seven late in the first half, while Yale's biggest advantage was five in the second half. The Crusaders (1-13) have now lost five games by four points or less. The Bulldogs (6-7) have played five games decided by five points or less.

"Almost every game they [Holy Cross] have played has been close, so there is no shame in beating them by a point," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball. "They play very hard. We were just a little more fortunate and came away with the win."

Morgan, who entered the game fourth in the nation in three-point field goal percentage, was only 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. Instead he focused on getting to the basket in the second half and overtime.

"Austin is a gritty, gutsy player," Jones said. "He and Porter both made strong plays going to the basket."

Four of Yale's five starters scored in double figures. Greg Mangano had 15 points and 14 rebounds. Braswell finished with 14 points, and Jeremiah Kreisberg added 12 points. Off the bench, Rhett Anderson had six points and four rebounds, and Raffi Mantilla contributed five points, including a big three-pointer in the second half.

Devin Brown paced Holy Cross with 33 points.

It looked like the Bulldogs would win in regulation when Braswell's driving layup with 5.2 seconds left snapped a 61-61 tie. After a Holy Cross timeout, Brown caught a long inbounds pass, dribbled into the lane and hit a runner with .2 seconds left to force overtime.

Both teams struggled offensively in the first half. Yale made just 9 of 32 shots, while the Crusaders were 9-of-30 from the field. Holy Cross led 28-23 at the intermission.

The second half was a different story for the Bulldogs, who shot 68 percent (17-of-25).

"We were more aggressive," Jones said. "In the first half, we missed a lot of layups and free throws."

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Bulldogs, who have only one more game - Saturday against Baruch - before the start of Ivy League play.

"There's always room for improvement, but it's important to get some momentum heading into Ivy play," Morgan said.

NOTES: Yale outscored Holy Cross 52-28 in the paint… The Crusaders made 5-of-7 shots from the field in overtime but were only 3-of-6  from the foul line… The Bulldogs struggled from the free throw line in the game, making only 13-of-22 freebies… Kreisberg's 12 points were a career-high. He has now scored in double figures in each of the last three games… Mangano's double-double was his fourth of the season and the sixth of his career. He also had three blocks… Saturday's game with Baruch tips off at 2 p.m. at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity