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Bulldogs Topple Harvard; Move Into First Place Tie

Javier Duren (Harvard Athletic Communications, Gil Talbot)
Javier Duren (Harvard Athletic Communications, Gil Talbot)

Sears, Cotton Post Double-Doubles

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – James Jones had a simple message for his team prior to Saturday's game at Harvard.

"I told them it was time for us to win [at Harvard]," said Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball. "We are ready."

Jones then watched as the Bulldogs went out and executed nearly flawlessly. Yale shot 51.2 percent from the field, held Harvard to 39 percent and controlled the glass en route to a 74-67 victory before a stunned capacity crowd of 2,195 at Lavietes Pavilion.

The Bulldogs snapped Harvard's 20-game home winning streak, which was the sixth longest in all of Division I.

Justin Sears and Armani Cotton both posted double-doubles. Sears finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Cotton added 13 points and 10 rebounds. Javier Duren scored 15 points.

"This is great," said Sears, who was 6-of-11 from the field and 9-of-10 from the foul line, including several big ones down the stretch that helped seal the win. "We came into the weekend with high expectations. Every one really bought into the game plan, and we came together."

Yale had lost its last four games at Lavietes. A couple, though, were close, including a three-point loss last year in a game Sears missed with an injury.

The win moved the Bulldogs (11-9, 5-1 Ivy) into a first-place tie with Harvard (18-4, 5-1 Ivy).

Yale, which has won four straight, led for a majority of the game. Harvard's last lead was 23-22 with eight minutes left in the first half. The Bulldogs responded with an 11-3 run and didn't trail the rest of the way.

The Crimson pulled within one on a Wesley Saunders' three-pointer with one minute left in the first half, but Jack Montague answered with a three of his own and Yale had a 39-35 lead at the intermission.

The Bulldogs kept the pressure on in the second half. A jumper from Sears increased the advantage to 10 five minutes in. Harvard made a couple of runs, but Yale responded every time.

Cotton hit a big three-pointer with eight minutes left after the Crimson had pulled within three, and Greg Kelley made a trey to stretch the lead to nine with six minutes left.

"We stayed composed," Sears said. "Everyone played defense and rebounded."

Yale also made its free throws, hitting 9-of-10 in the final 1:14, to seal the victory. Sears was 6-of-6.

The Bulldogs finished 24-of-29 (82.8 percent) from the line in the game.

The Bulldogs also got contributions from a number of sources. Montague played 21 minutes with Duren getting into early foul trouble and had six points and two assists.

"Jack was really tremendous," Jones said. "He's playing with a lot of confidence."

In all, Yale got 16 points from its bench and also received solid defensive play from the reserves.

"It's sometimes hard to get contributions from the bench on the road, but tonight we did," Jones said.

Added Sears, "Our bench was great. Greg [Kelley] made a big three, Jack came in and controlled the tempo. "

NOTES: Yale was dominant on the glass, outrebounding Harvard 37-24… The Bulldogs swept the Dartmouth-Harvard road trip for the first time since the 2007-08 season… Yale is 5-1 in Ivy play for the second time in the last three years. The 2011-12 team also won five of its first six league games. Prior to that, the Bulldogs hadn't started 5-1 since the 2006-07 season… The Bulldogs are back home next weekend, hosting Penn on Friday at 7 p.m. and Princeton on Saturday at 6 p.m.