March 1, 2014

Bulldogs Stay Alive With Big Win At Penn

Yale Knocks Off Quakers 70-63

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Yale rebounded from a difficult Friday loss at Princeton in impressive fashion. Justin Sears scored 24 points as the Bulldogs held off Penn 70-63 before a nice crowd of 4,526 at the Palestra.

"My message to the team after last night was to not feel sorry for ourselves," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball. "This is a hard league. It takes an emotional toll."

The Bulldogs (15-11, 9-3 Ivy) are still alive for an Ivy League title and an NCAA Tournament berth. Harvard clinched at least a tie for the Ivy championship with an 80-47 home win over Columbia.

The Crimson has a two-game lead on the Bulldogs, but the two teams meet next Friday at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. Yale then closes out the regular season the next night at home against Dartmouth, while Harvard travels to Brown.

The Bulldogs made sure next Friday's game would have meaning with a solid all-around performance against the Quakers. Nine players scored. Javier Duren had 14 points, six assists and five rebounds. Matt Townsend, Greg Kelley and Nick Victor added six points, and Armani Cotton contributed five.

Yale outrebounded the Quakers 40-29 and outscored them 24-8 at the free throw line.

"That's what we do," said Sears. "We want to control the boards and be the more physical team. We did a good job of that tonight.

Sears scored in a variety of ways. He was 8-of-15 from the field and 8-of-10 from the foul line.

"Justin has really taken a step forward with his perimeter shooting," Jones said. "He has a great deal of confidence."

Yale also capitalized on Penn's mistakes. The Quakers committed 13 turnovers, which is below their season average, but the Bulldogs turned those miscues into 23 points.

"We struggled in our half court offense," Jones said. "Being able to get some easy points off of turnovers was important."

Penn (7-18, 4-7 Ivy) started strong and led 12-4 after five minutes. The Bulldogs, though, slowly chipped away, finally taking their first lead, 25-24, on a Sears jumper with 4:30 left. Yale then extended the lead to six, 33-27, when Duren hit a three-pointer with 23 seconds left in the first half.

The Bulldogs maintained a five- to seven-point lead for much of the second half but were never able to completely shake the pesky Quakers.

Penn then made a late run. Tony Hicks' layup pulled the Quakers within three with two minutes left. After a Yale miss, Penn had a chance to tie but Miles Cartwright missed a three-pointer with the shot clock winding down.

Duren hit a pair of free throws, but Hicks answered with a three-pointer to pull Penn within 65-63 with 25 seconds left.

Duren, though, made two more free throws with 22 seconds left, and Cotton took the ball away from Cartwright on Penn's ensuing possession to seal it.

Yale made 7-of-8 free throws in the final 33 seconds to preserve the lead.

NOTES: The Bulldogs won for the second straight year at the Palestra. The last time Yale won two years in a row in the building was 1967-68… The Bulldogs also swept the season series from the Quakers for the second straight. The last time Yale did that two years in a row was 1957-58… Yale has outrebounded its opponents in 10 straight games… The Yale-Harvard game next Friday tips off at 7:30 p.m. It will be televised by the NBC Sports Network.

Photo of Isaiah Salafia driving to the basket courtesy of Penn Athletic Communications.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity

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