Despite promising play, men’s basketball falls to No. 3 Kansas

Posted Monday Dec. 31 The men’s basketball team dropped another game to a nationally ranked opponent — but not without encouraging play from the Bulldog point guards.

The Elis’ 86-53 loss to No. 3 Kansas (13-0) on the road last Saturday was their second to a top-five squad this season – the first was to UCLA in November – and leaves the team with a 3-7 record with just four games to go until the Ivy onslaught.

Guard Porter Braswell ’11 and captain Eric Flato ’08 led the team in scoring, racking up half of the Bulldogs’ total points, with 13 and 10, respectively. Braswell contributed 100 percent shooting from beyond the arc (3 for 3) and another two baskets in just 15 minutes of play.

“My mindset when coming off the bench is to just let the game come to me and not try to force anything,” Braswell said. “If there is an opportunity to make a play then I’ll go for it without getting out of the pattern of the offense.”

Flato, the Bulldogs’ leading scorer this season, snuck in two three-pointers of his own but went only 3-11 overall from the field.

The Elis were overwhelmed by the Jayhawks’ overpowering defense. The home team jumped out to a 14-2 lead and the Bulldogs could manage only 19 points in the first half, falling behind, 42-19, the same 33-point margin by which they eventually lost.

Kansas held back Eli scoring for most of the game, especially from post players. In the second half, Kansas maintained a lead that never dipped below 25 and reached its apex at 40 with 1:21 remaining.

“They picked us up full-court the whole game,” guard Caleb Holmes ’08 said. “Their guards are very quick and athletic, and they play very good defense.”

Kansas’ Russell Robinson stole the ball eight times and the Jayhawks forced 27 Yale turnovers.

A high-pressure defense coupled with a quartet of players with double-digit scoring efforts pushed the Jayhawks easily ahead of the Elis.

“It is just pretty much par for the course for [Kansas],” Yale head coach James Jones said. “I thought we had some opportunities in the second half, but obviously, defensively, they do a great job.”

Still, the Bulldogs managed to out-rebound a team for the first time since a Nov. 14 game against UMass, although that effort resulted in a loss, as well.

All statistics aside, the Elis acknowledge the talent they faced on the court.

“We have now played two of the best pressure defenses in the country in UCLA and Kansas. Russell Robinson and Mario Chalmers are both very quick, long guards,” guard Nick Holmes ’08 said. “It is tough when you are playing against guards like that. We knew they were going to pressure us, but our main problem tonight was that we couldn’t get into our offense. We couldn’t execute anything.”

The Bulldogs’ trouble finding the basket — they shot a mere 37 percent in Lawrence, Kan. — may continue to plague them when they take on Ivy League opponents in January.

“It just exposes us a little bit,” Caleb Holmes ’08 said. “We know that we have to take care of the ball better and get into our offense better. We need to work on those things before conference play gets started.”

The Elis will return to the Elm City on Wednesday night to take on Portland.

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