Against Saint Peter’s Saturday, the Bulldogs’ work on the offensive end hardly resulted in corresponding defensive stops. Instead of forcing bad shots, pulling down defensive rebounds and drawing offensive fouls, the Elis allowed diminutive Peacock guards Keydren Clark and Corey Hinnant to run the show.
In the last 11 minutes, Clark and Hinnant led the Peacock stampede, scoring 23 out of the team’s final 29 points, many of those easy deuces in the paint. Not bad for guards that are 5-foot-9 and 6-feet tall, respectively.
“We did a poor job at stepping up and taking charges when [Clark] drove to the basket,” Yale head coach James Jones said. “We need to step up and take the charge and then next time down the floor, he’s thinking twice about driving to the basket.”
With the game knotted at 61-61 with 5:43 remaining in the second half, the Peacocks got a key steal off of a Bulldogs’ inbounds play. As Gamboa lofted a pass to forward Sam Kaplan ’07, Peacock Ron Yates leapt up, grabbed the ball and took off running.
“I think he knew the play and he held me, although the refs didn’t see it,” Kaplan said. “He got a steal and dunked the ball. It was a huge momentum shift.”
With that basket, the Bulldogs handed over the reins to Clark and Hinnant, who spurred their squad into a high-speed blur of a transition game.
“We had two plays on defense where we needed to get stops,” captain Alex Gamboa ’05 said. “We had [the inbounds] turnover and we gave up four easy points, which kind of shifted the momentum in their favor.”
An offensive foul by a frustrated Dominick Martin ’06 with 2:32 to go could not have been more ill-timed, as Alex Gamboa ’05 was in the midst of faking a three and hitting a wide-open Edwin Draughan ’05 under the basket. The foul, along with Eli turnovers and a bombardment of the Bulldog boards, helped the Peacocks put together a quick 13-2 run, bringing the score to 74-63 with just a minute to go.
“All I kept seeing were lay-ups after lay-ups,” Kaplan said. “We need to get back on the defensive end — that can’t happen.”
The defensive stops were as much a problem in the beginning of the game as in the end. With 15 minutes remaining in the first half, the lead 13-4, the Peacocks pulled down two consecutive offensive rebounds. While Martin denied the subsequent shot, it signified a change. As Martin made himself comfortable on the bench two minutes later, saddled with two fouls, the Bulldogs’ defensive efforts were nowhere to be found.
Just two minutes later, a lead that had been 18-4 was cut to 18-16 as the Peacocks pulled down four rebounds and the Bulldogs did little but pick up three fouls and a turnover.
“They were really a running team and that’s how they play,” Kaplan said. “They just go on runs like that. The next thing I look up it is 20-20 [with 9:04 to go].”
The Elis have four days to find a way to prevent these defensive shutdowns from happening and to start the Ivy League season on the right foot. After an 87-38 rout of Maryland Eastern Shore, Brown is coming to town riding a train of momentum, led by the Ivy League’s version of Clark in last year’s Ivy League Player of the Year guard Jason Forte. Forte, who averages 17.4 points per game, put up 25 in the win.
“[Brown is] 8-7 now and coming off of a 50 point win,” Jones said. “They’ve won in this building twice in a row and they’re going to come try to do that again.”