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Duren’s Late Three Helps Yale Hold Off Buffalo 63-59

Mike Grace (Ron Waite photo)
Mike Grace (Ron Waite photo)

Sears Scores Career-High 19 Points, Morgan Adds 16

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The growing pains for a young Yale men's basketball team have been most evident down the stretch of games early in the season. The Bulldogs took a big step toward putting those issues behind them on Saturday.

Javier Duren's three-pointer with 1:56 left snapped a 55-55 tie and Yale executed flawlessly the rest of the way in a 63-59 victory over Buffalo at the NABC Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at the Ford Center.

"We grew up a little tonight," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball at Yale. "I thought we beat ourselves last night [in a 66-56 loss to Evansville]. Tonight we got the big rebound, hit the big shot and took care of the basketball."

Freshman Justin Sears paced the Bulldogs with a career-high 19 points. Austin Morgan added 16 points, including a pair of free of throws with four seconds left that sealed the win.

Yale (1-3) led by eight early in the second half before the Bulls slowly chipped away. Javon McCrea's free throw tied the score at 55 with 2:37 left. That's when Duren made what turned out to be the most important shot of the game.

"They switched up to a zone, and Javier made a big shot," Jones said.

Still, there was more work to do for the Bulldogs. McCrea's layup quickly cut the lead back to one. Sears then hit one of two free throws with 32 seconds left. UB's Will Regan had a chance to tie it, but his short jumper in the lane missed. Armani Cotton grabbed the rebound and called a quick timeout. Yale then broke Buffalo's press, resulting in Sears' breakaway layup off a nice feed from Sam Martin with 10 seconds left.

Jarod Oldham's layup got the Bulls within 61-59, but Morgan calmly sank two free throws to ice it.

Yale may have been most impressive on the defensive end of the floor, holding Buffalo to 34.5 percent shooting from the field in the game.

"Defensively, we really attacked them," Jones said.

McCrea led the Bulls with 17 points, while Oldham added 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Duren and Brandon Sherrod both finished with seven points for the Bulldogs.

After trailing for most of the first 10 minutes of the game, Yale used an 11-3 run to take a 22-15 lead with eight minutes to go. The advantage grew to 12, 34-22, after two Jesse Pritchard free throws, but the Bulls closed the half with an 11-2 run to pull within 36-33 at the intermission.

NOTES: Yale more than held its own on the boards against a Buffalo team that entered the game with a +3.8 per game rebounding margin. The Bulls only outrebounded the Bulldogs 37-36… Sears led Yale with seven rebounds, while Cotton grabbed six… The two teams were playing for the first time since 1931, a 39-24 Bulldog victory that ended a Buffalo 29-game winning streak… Yale concludes play at the Classic on Sunday, facing Western Illinois at 3 p.m. EST. There will be no video available but Western Illinois' radio broadcast can be heard here.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity

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