The men’s basketball team (3–6) learned firsthand Monday night that it’s not about how you start — it’s how you finish. The Bulldogs succumbed to a 10–0 run in the final two minutes to drop a 72–60 loss to the University of Vermont (6–4) in a game that was much closer than its final score indicated.
“We’ve said all year that we have very little margin for error with this team,” head coach James Jones said after the game. “Every play matters. Our execution went south in the final five minutes; they hit some tough shots, and it cost us.”
Forward Michael Sands ’11 matched a career-high with 15 points on six-of-10 shooting and six rebounds, while captain and guard Alex Zampier’ added 13 points.
The Bulldogs came out strong in the opening minutes, using jumpers from guard Porter Braswell ’11 and Zampier and a layup from center Paul Nelson ’10 to take an early 7–4 lead. Sands, coming off a game-winning performance in last Wednesday’s win at Hartford, then scored three straight buckets for the Elis to give the Bulldogs a 15–12 lead with 13 minutes to go in the half.
Frontcourt mates Greg Mangano ’12 and Josh Davis ’10 both added field goals over the next few minutes, but the Catamounts roared back and took the lead, building it to seven with five minutes remaining in the first half.
Yale battled back in the closing minutes of the half, fueled by another Sands jumper and four points from Zampier to cut the lead to two going into the break.
Sands tied things up right out of the gate, scoring off a turnover forced by guard Jordan Gibson ’10. Field goals by Braswell and Gibson left the Bulldogs down one with 15 minutes to go, but the Catamounts outscored the Elis 10–2, opening up an eight-point lead.
If this year’s Bulldog squad is anything, though, it is resilient, and in keeping with their play all season, Yale fought right back into the game. Gibson, Mangano, Braswell and Zampier all scored to lead the Elis back to within one with five minutes left in regulation.
Those next five minutes proved fatal for the Elis, who had no answer for Vermont’s Nick Vier. Vier scored eight points in four minutes to secure an eight-point lead for the Catamounts with just 1:20 left to play. Yale sent Vermont to the line, but they converted, sealing the deal and taking the 72–60 victory.
“In the last few minutes we failed to come up with big stops and it ending up costing us the game.” Braswell said. “We were unable to come up with big rebounds and that’s the fault of all five guys on the floor.”
The Bulldogs will get a chance at redemption tonight when they take on Bryant at 7:30 p.m. in the John J. Lee Amphitheater.