The men’s basketball team could not duplicate the success it found in the season opener in New Haven with a victory on the road Wednesday night.
After tiring in the second half, Yale (1-1) fell to UMass-Amherst (5-1), 89-80, to fall behind 3-4 in the all-time series. The Bulldogs head into Thanksgiving — facing a brutal stretch of upcoming games against No. 20 Stanford and No. 2 UCLA — with a loss.
The Elis came out strong in the first half Wednesday, holding onto a shallow lead for much of the opening 20. The Bulldogs notched 44 points in the stanza and shot 62.5 percent from beyond the arc even though the Minutemen outshot them, 34-30. UMass held the advantage going into the break, 48-44.
Center Matt Kyle ’08 continued his breakout performance, posting 13 points in the first half en route to a 20-point showing.
“We played well in the first half offensively, but defensively we let them have a lot of easy buckets and they hit a lot of their free throws,” guard Caleb Holmes ’08 said.
The lead changed 15 times in the fast-paced match, but after halftime the Minutemen wore down a lethargic Bulldog squad to pull out a narrow victory.
The home team ran the show after about five minutes into the half and pulled ahead to an advantage it would hold until the clock ran out. The Bulldogs came within four points after a Holmes free throw with 6:23 on the clock, but they could not overcome the UMass shooters.
The Minutemen scored 11 points in the final five minutes, sinking seven free throws to eventually top the Elis, 89-80. Their eight boards during the stretch helped them keep possession away from the struggling Bulldogs.
“I think our defense broke down, especially in the second half,” captain and guard Eric Flato ’08 said. “We got a little tired, we got fouled and we missed a few shots. They’re a big-time school, and we could have beaten them pretty easily. They had good plays. You can’t stop everybody.”
The match saw three Bulldogs log double-digit scoring. Flato racked up 10 points, Kyle notched 20 and Holmes put up 23. Yale also snatched 33 boards in the match, three more than UMass.
But 71 of UMass’ points were spread among just four players, including star forward Gary Forbes, who put up his fourth consecutive 20-point game, and Dante Milligan, who had a career-high 17-point showing. The home team also sank 76.2 percent of its free throws.
“I think they were pretty athletic,” Holmes said. “They looked to push the ball up and down the floor.”
The Bulldogs’ ball control improved from their season’s first contest, as they conceded just 14 points off of turnovers, compared to 22 against Sacred Heart.
With a solid upperclassmen starting lineup and decent points coming off the bench, the Elis look to be in good shape for the stretch against ranked Stanford and UCLA in the Golden State next week. The back-to-back road matchups will be the most difficult pair of games the Bulldogs have faced in years.
“We have a really balanced team this year, and different guys are going to go for 20 every night,” forward Nick Holmes ’08 said. “It’s just whoever gets hot, that’s just one good thing this team has this year.”