Bulldogs Get Back To Basics In 54-49 Victory At Hartford

Armani Cotton (dspics.com)
Armani Cotton (dspics.com)

Sears Posts Another Double-Double As Yale Wins Second Straight

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – By going back to what it does best, the Yale men's basketball team earned an impressive 54-49 victory at Hartford on Saturday at Chase Family Arena.

Trailing by three at halftime, the Bulldogs outrebounded the Hawks 19-10 and got to the free throw line 19 times in the second half.

"We attacked the basket, and our identity is rebounding," said Justin Sears, who led Yale with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Still, the Bulldogs were down by seven with 13 minutes left. That's when Sears began to really assert himself. He scored six straight points, including a pair of powerful dunks, to ignite a 15-5 Yale run over the next seven-and-a-half minutes.

Hartford (2-6) managed to regain the lead, 47-46, on Wes Cole's baseline three-pointer with 2:19 left, but Yale again responded. Nick Victor's short jumper in the lane gave the Bulldogs the lead for good, and Armani Cotton followed with three free throws.

The Hawks pulled back within one on another Cole three-pointer, but Javier Duren answered with two more free throws with 21 seconds left.

The Hawks elected to go for a quick two on the ensuing possession, but Sears blocked Yolonzo Moore's shot. The ball eventually found its way to Mark Nwakamma, but he was called for travelling before he could get off a three-pointer.

Jesse Pritchard made two three throws with four seconds left to seal the victory.

"Every day in practice, we work on situations," said Sears of Yale's solid execution down the stretch.

Duren was the only other Yale player to reach double figures in scoring. He finished with 10 points.  Pritchard and Cotton both had eight and Victor contributed five.

In the first half, the Bulldogs took an uncharacteristic 12 three-pointers, had nine turnovers and were outrebounded 23-17.

"In the second half, we did a better job rebounding and we took care of the ball," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball.

The game was a defensive struggle throughout. Yale shot just 32.7 percent from the field, while the Hawks were only slightly better at 33.3 percent.

The Bulldogs did a good job defending Nwakamma, Hartford's leading scorer, who finished with 15 points.

"We tried to isolate, put a body on him and make what he got tough," Jones said. "He was 5-of-13 [from the field] so I thought we did a pretty good job defensively."

The Bulldogs (4-3) have now won two straight, both away from home.

"Our last two games have been like [Ivy] League road games," Jones said of the wins over Lafayette and now Hartford. "When we prepare the schedule, we want those opportunities."

Yale now gets to play two straight games in the friendly confines of Lee Amphitheater, starting with Bryant on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity