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Double Overtime Thriller Goes To Yale 86-83

Michael Grace. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Michael Grace. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Morgan Scores 19 Points To Lead Bulldogs Past Army

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Yale's home opener with Army on Saturday featured a little bit of everything. The first 20 minutes was a defensive struggle, the second half was an offensive clinic, but it wasn't until the second overtime that a winner that was finally determined.

Sam Martin hit a three-pointer with 32 seconds left that gave the Bulldogs an 84-83 lead, and Austin Morgan capped a perfect afternoon at the free throw line with a pair of foul shots with eight seconds left as Yale escaped with an 86-83 victory over the Black Knights before a highly entertained crowd of 1,116 at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.

"It's nice to get a grind-it-out win," said Martin, who finished with 11 points, one of five Yale players in double figures. "It's certainly a step in the right direction for us."

It was the Bulldogs' second overtime game of the young season. They dropped an 85-82 decision that required only five extra minutes in the season opener against Sacred Heart at the Connecticut 6 Classic.

Yale (2-5) also had to overcome a huge game from Army's Ella Ellis, who scored 37 points. He was 10-of-20 from the field and 14-of-15 from the foul line.

Morgan paced the Bulldogs with 19 points. He struggled from the field (3-of-15) but was 11-of-11 from the free throw line, including the two big ones late in the second overtime. Matt Townsend, playing in just his second game of the season after missing the first five with an injury, added s career-high 15 points. He was 6-of-7 from the field. Michael Grace scored 14 points and freshman Justin Sears posted his first career double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

"Everybody really worked hard, and everybody did their part," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball at Yale.

The game featured nine ties and 12 lead changes.

After Army's Andrew Stire made two free throws with 23 seconds left, Yale had a chance to win in it in regulation, but the Black Knights' pressure defense kept the Bulldogs from getting off a good shot.

Ellis's three-pointer gave Army a three-point lead, 73-70, with 1:49 left in the first overtime, but Grace answered with a three of his own to tie it. Two Morgan free throws with a minute left put the Bulldogs in front, but Ellis made two free throws with 34 seconds left to tie it at 75-75.

Yale again had a final possession with a chance to win, but Morgan's well-contested shot missed as time expired.

The Bulldogs led by four early in the second overtime, but Ellis hit a pair of three-pointers and two free throws to give the Black Knights an 83-81 lead with 43 seconds left. Martin, though, answered with a three-pointer from the wing off a nice feed from Grace.

Army's Kyle Wilson and Dylan Cox both had shots to put Army ahead, but missed. Townsend grabbed the rebound on the second miss and quickly fed it to Morgan, who was fouled and hit both free throws.

Army still had one last chance to tie, but Josh Herbeck's long three-pointer missed at the buzzer.

Yale had played its first seven games away from home.

"We've had a very difficult schedule against some good mid-major opponents that were very athletic," Jones said. "To get to play at home and get a win was very important to us."

The Bulldogs have now won six of their last eight home openers.

Both teams struggled from the field in the first half. Yale, which had a 21-19 lead at the intermission, was just 10-of-25, while Army connected on only 7-of-28 field goals.

The second half was a different story. The Black Knights (3-2) shot a blistering 59.3 percent and scored 47 points. The Bulldogs were almost as accurate, shooting 56.5 percent and scoring 45 points.

NOTES: Jones again shuffled his starting lineup. Townsend and Martin each made their first career starts… Jesse Pritchard had only one field goal, but it was an important one. It came in the second overtime. Pritchard grabbed the rebound of a Grace miss and flipped the ball over his shoulder, off the backboard and in… Sears again had a big game on the offensive glass. Five of his 12 rebounds came on the offensive end… All 10 of the Yale players that saw action scored… The Bulldogs are back in action at home on Thursday night when they host Hartford at 7 p.m.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity

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