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Bulldogs Rally Falls Short in Loss to Hartford

Javier Duren. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Javier Duren. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Morgan Scores Nine of Game-High 15 Points in Second-Half


NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The Yale University men's basketball team struggled offensively through the first 30 minutes of its game against Hartford Thursday night, and by the time the offense started to click, it was not enough to prevent the Bulldogs from dropping a tough loss to its in-state rival.

Hartford opened the second half with a 19-2 run to build a comfortable lead that it never relinquished, holding off Yale's late rally for a 60-51 victory over the Bulldogs in John J. Lee Amphitheater.

The loss was the first by Yale in the last five games against Hartford. The Bulldogs came into the game riding a four-game winning streak over the Hawks.

"We didn't get a great effort offensively with our movement. Hartford did a good job of denying us and we did a very poor job of utilizing parts of our offense as pressure releases," said James Jones, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Men's Basketball. "We allowed them to dictate tempo to us. Overall, our effort on offense is not what it needs to be in order to be a good basketball team offensively."

Senior guard Austin Morgan scored a game-high 15 points to lead the Bulldogs (2-6). Sam Martin added 12 points, while Justin Sears chipped in with eight points and four rebounds.

Nine of Morgan's points came in the final 8:33 of the game, which helped to fuel a late Yale rally that cut a 23-point deficit to just seven points (49-42) with 4:03 left.

Unfortunately, Hartford was able to hold off the late charge thanks to a pair of 3-pointers by sophomore Wes Cole that pushed the lead back to 11 (55-44) with 1:42 left. The Bulldogs couldn't recover from Cole's clutch shooting down the stretch.

"The guys weren't going to quit on the game, but it was a matter of digging a hole too deep to come back from," Jones said. "Good teams aren't going to let you come back when you're 20 down. We got down 20 and that's a little too much to swallow sometimes."

Yale struggled on the offensive end in the first half, shooting just 5-for-22 in the half (22.7 percent) and 2-for-10 from 3-point range (20.0 percent). A perfect 6-for-6 showing at the foul line in the half allowed the Bulldogs to keep pace early on and take a 21-18 deficit into the locker room at halftime.

Nate Sikma jumpstarted the Hawks' surge at the start of the second half with a pair of 3-pointers and a layup in the first 4:21 of the half, turning the 3-point halftime lead into a 36-20 lead with 15:39 left.

The Bulldogs saw the deficit grow to 46-23 with 11:36 left on Cole's first three of the half. He was 3-for-3 from beyond the arc in the half and scored all 12 of his points in the final 20 minutes of play to lead the Hawks on the score sheet. Hartford's only other double-digit scorer, Yolonzo Moore, scored eight of his 10 points in the second half.

The Bulldogs now hit the road for a pair of non-league games at Bryant (Dec. 5) and at New Hampshire (Dec. 8).

Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity