M. BASKETBALL | Three of a kind

Winter break didn’t start off too well for the men’s basketball team, but 2009 has treated the Bulldogs kindly.

After beginning the New Year with a 69-58 loss at Division I newcomer Bryant (2-13) on Jan. 2 to extend its losing streak to five, the Elis (5-9, 0-0 Ivy) reeled off their third consecutive victory with a 71-63 triumph over visiting Hartford (5-11) on Saturday in their final non-conference game of the season.

Led by a double-double from forward Ross Morin ’09 (17 points, 10 rebounds) and an all-around performance by forward Travis Pinick ’09 (14 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three steals), the Elis overcame a nine-point deficit at the half on the way to the win over the Hawks.

The Bulldogs did so by outscoring Hartford 42-35 and holding the visitors to just 31.8 (7-22) percent shooting in the second half. On the other hand, the Bulldogs were red-hot from the field and shot 60 percent (15-25) in the period.

The Hawks were led by the two starters in their backcourt, who played the entire contest. Jarett von Rosenberg paced the Hawks with 24 points and eight rebounds and backcourt mate Andres Torres contributed 14 points.

Guard Alex Zampier ’10 chipped in with 14 points and six rebounds for the Elis.

The Hawks jumped out to a nine-point halftime lead by taking advantage of Yale turnovers — Hartford scored 15 points off nine Bulldogs first-half turnovers. But the Elis were more careful with the orange in the second half and surrendered just five turnovers in the second half.

“We started to run our offense better and get to the foul line,” guard Chris Andrews ’09 said of the second half. “We just started to break down the zone defense they had.”

For the game the Bulldogs (52.3 percent) outshot Hartford (42.3 percent) and dominated the boards with a plus-14 rebounding advantage.

“We did a good job of winning the basketball game in the second half,” head coach James Jones said. “We haven’t always been able to do that this season. Hopefully this will give us some confidence.”

The Elis were coming off victories over MIT (9-4) and NJIT, which is 0-16 and currently on a 49-game losing streak, in resounding fashion.

The Bulldogs began the winning streak with an 86-63 blowout over the Division 3 Engineers on January 3 in their first home game in exactly a month. Forward Jordan Gibson ’10 led the squad with 13 points and added six rebounds. Morin and Pinick chipped in 12 points a piece.

Jimmy Bartolotta took 25 shots for MIT and finished with a game-high 32 points.

Two days later, Yale avoided being NJIT’s first victim in almost two seasons with an 80-51 win in Newark. The Bulldogs had four players in double figures, led by Zampier’s 18 and Porter Braswell’s career high of 14 points.

The winter recess commenced with a tough road loss for the Elis on Dec. 28. A heavy underdog at SEC perennial contender Alabama (10-4), Yale dug itself a hole in the first half and went into halftime down 36-25. But much like the team did against Hartford on Saturday, the Bulldogs came storming back after being down by as much as 18 in the second period.

Three Zampier free throws cut the deficit to 61-60 with 13 seconds remaining but the Crimson Tide hit their free throws down the stretch and avoided the upset.

“We took care of the ball, and I thought we did a great job of finding each other in our offense,” Morin said of the second-half performance after the loss.

Morin led the Bulldogs with 20 points to go with six rebounds, while Pinick recorded a double-double dropping in 17 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

The Crimson Tide had four players in double figures, led by Alonzo Gee’s 20 points.

The Elis then continued their losing streak on the road against Hampton (7-7) and the aforementioned Bryant to conclude their stretch of five consecutive road games.

The team will now look to carry the momentum of its three-game winning streak into the conference schedule, which begins on Friday with a visit to Brown (6-8) and is all that remains on the schedule for the Bulldogs — all 14 remaining contests are against Ancient Eight opponents.

And with Cornell (9-6, 0-0) playing solid basketball against tough competition and Harvard (8-6, 0-0) coming off a monumental upset over No. 24 Boston College (13-4), the Ivy League season promises to bring excitement.

“We’re really confident,” Pinick said after the victory over Hartford. “We’ve played a lot of close games and have been fortunate enough to win the last three. There is no better time to be peaking.”

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