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Valiant Comeback Falls Short At Harvard

Armani Cotton (
Armani Cotton (

Cotton Scores 14 Points To Pace Yale

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Yale did all the things it needed to in the second half of Friday's game with Harvard. The Bulldogs tightened up defensively, slowed down the pace of the game and were aggressive on offense. Yale, though, had dug itself a little too much of a hole in the opening 20 minutes. The result was a hard-fought 67-64 loss to the Crimson before a full house of 2,195 at Lavietes Pavilion.

The Bulldogs trailed 40-27 at halftime, but forced 10 Harvard turnovers in the second half and outscored the Crimson 37-27.

Yale had an opportunity to maybe force overtime in the final seconds.  Trailing by three with 7.9 seconds left, Michael Grace was set to in-bound the ball under the basket. He tried to find an open three-point shooter but couldn't, so he fed Matt Townsend in the paint. Townsend got off a quick shot, hoping to draw a foul, but missed. The Crimson's Siyani Chambers grabbed the rebound and was quickly fouled.

Chambers then made both free throws to seal the victory for Harvard. Austin Morgan's driving layup as time expired capped the scoring.

"We were trying to run a play for Austin, but he was guarded pretty well," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball.

The loss spoiled a strong second half from the Bulldogs, who were playing without leading rebounder Justin Sears, who was out with an injury.

"We showed we've got a chance to beat anybody so that should give us some confidence," Jones said. "Our decision making, though, has to be better down the stretch."

Three of Yale's 11 turnovers came in the final three minutes.

Armani Cotton scored 14 points to pace Yale (7-13, 1-2 Ivy). Morgan added nine points, and Townsend, Javier Duren and Grace all finished with eight.

Laurent Rivard and Wesley Saunders each scored 15 points to lead the Crimson, the defending Ivy League champions.

Yale actually started the game very strong. Cotton hit a pair of three-pointers and scored 10 points in the first three minutes as the Bulldogs raced out to a 10-2 lead.

Harvard, though, ran off the next eight points to get right back in it and used a 12-2 run midway through the half to seize control.

"We had a great charge to start the game, but then we played tentatively the rest of the first half," Jones said. "I thought we got more aggressive in the second half."

Harvard (11-6, 3-0 Ivy) shot 57.1 percent from field in the opening 20 minutes. Yale shot 45.8 percent and did not have an offensive rebound. The Bulldogs came into the game leading the league in offensive rebounds.

The Crimson maintained its double-digit lead for the first 10 minutes of the second half, but a Sam Martin three-pointer pulled Yale within 56-49 with 6:22 left and started the comeback.

The Bulldogs also helped themselves by making 18-of-20 free throws in the second half.

NOTES: Townsend led Yale with six rebounds. The Crimson, though, outrebounded the Bulldogs 28-25 in the game. Yale did manage seven offensive rebounds in the second half… Saunders had 11 assists to go with his 15 points. .. Rivard finished 5-of-7 from three-point range in the game… The Bulldogs are back in action on Saturday night when they play at Dartmouth at 7 p.m. The Big Green fell to Brpwn 62-50 on Friday.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity