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Bulldogs Drop OT Heartbreaker To Sacred Heart In Season Opener

Bulldogs Drop OT Heartbreaker To Sacred Heart In Season Opener

Morgan Scores 28 Points To Pace Yale

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – For 30 minutes on Saturday, the Yale men's basketball team showed it has the potential to be very good. The season opener also taught Yale a valuable lesson.

Sacred Heart rallied from a 24-point deficit to defeat the Bulldogs 85-82 in overtime in the second game of the Connecticut 6 Classic at the University of Hartford's Chase Arena.

"For the first 30 minutes, we played well," said Austin Morgan, who scored a career-high 28 points. "It's a good lesson for us. It's not a 30-minute game, it's 40 minutes."

Yale (0-1) was clicking on all cylinders in building a 61-37 lead five minutes into the second half. The Bulldogs were still ahead 71-54 with 7:55 left before the Pioneers rallied. Shane Gibson, who was fourth in the nation in scoring last year, scored 11 of his game-high 29 points over the final eight minutes, including a driving layup with eight seconds left that tied the score at 76 and forced overtime.

Yale scored the first five points of overtime, but the Pioneers answered with the next eight points to escape with the victory.

James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball, could see the difference in his young team down the stretch.

"When we share the ball and play together, we are very good," Jones said. "Then guys went off on their own and it didn't look very good."

Morgan was 7-of-12 from the field, including 6-of-11 on three-pointers. Freshman Justin Sears, who started, added 19 points and seven rebounds. Jeremiah Kreisberg scored nine points and Brandon Sherrod contributed six points and six rebounds.

Justin Swidowski had 17 points for the Pioneers (1-0). Louis Montes added 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Sacred Heart outrebounded Yale 41-29 and had 16 offensive rebounds, which led to 24 points.

"We didn't chase the ball off the glass and that's why we lost," Jones said.

The Pioneers led 15-11 early, but Yale answered with a 19-6 run. The lead grew to 16 on an Armani Cotton free throw with 37 seconds left in the first half, and the Bulldogs took that 44-28 advantage into the locker room at the intermission.

Yale shot 51.9 percent (14-of-27) from the field in the first half and outrebounded the Pioneers 16-12.

It looked like the Bulldogs might cruise to victory when Michael Grace's layup gave them the 61-37 lead, but from there Sacred Heart turned on the pressure.

Still, the Bulldogs had a chance to win in the final seconds of regulation, but Javier Duren's runner in the lane rimmed out as time expired.

"It was a great comeback by Sacred Heart," Jones said. "For us, it's a lesson learned."

NOTES: Duren had a career-high six assists for the Bulldogs… Yale had assists on 18 of its 27 field goals… All 10 players that appeared in the game scored… Four of Sears' seven rebounds came on the offensive end. He was 7-of-12 from the field… The Bulldogs are back in action on Monday night when they begin play in the NABC Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at St. Joseph. Yale then heads to Evansville, Ind., for three games starting next Friday.

Greg Kelley photo by Wesley Thorpe

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity