The men’s basketball team made some noise of their own in Boston two days before The Game.
The Bulldogs (1–2) stunned power Boston College (1–1) 75-67 Thursday night. Guard Austin Morgan ’13 scored 25 points and hit six three-pointers to lead his team past the Eagles and garner the team’s first win of the season.
After falling behind in the first half in their two losses to Quinnipiac and Providence, the Bulldogs knew that they could not afford to get down early. Morgan and company made sure that they would not be in that position again.
“We had the mindset that we had to play harder than we had been playing,” forward Reggie Willhite ’12 said. “We knew that we couldn’t dig ourselves in a hole to start.”
On the Bulldogs’ first possession, Morgan drew a foul and went to the line for two free throws. After missing the first, Morgan sank the second to put the Bulldogs up 1-0. One minute and fifteen seconds later, Morgan would drill a three to give Yale a 4-2 lead, and Morgan was just getting started. His ability to drill shots from beyond the arc would become a theme for the rest of the game. He finished six of nine from three point range and 64 percent shooting overall.
“Every shot I took, it looked pretty good,” Morgan said. “It was just one of those days.”
Two layups from Reggie Willhite ’12 and another Morgan three made it 11-4 Yale. Boston College would fight back behind the strength of guard Reggie Jackson whose dunk tied the score at 19. However, three Morgan three-pointers would help the Bulldogs extend their lead to 30-25 at the half.
The Bulldogs shot seven of 11 from beyond the arc in the first half. Five of those came from Morgan who finished the half with 16 points. Jackson scored 14 first half points for the Eagles.
“My teammates were penetrating and kicking,” Morgan said. “They were looking for me and luckily my shot was on.”
The Bulldogs came out on an 18-7 tear to start the second half. Willhite started the run with two jump shots before point guard Porter Braswell ’11, Morgan and forward Greg Mangano ’12 all hit threes to give Yale a 48-32 lead with 14:37 remaining, the team’s largest lead of the game.
“We had been focusing on moving the ball on offense,” Willhite said of the team’s halftime preparation. “We had designed some plays for the second half. I was able to go to the basket strong off some of our plays.”
However, Boston College was not ready to throw in the towel. The Eagles started shrinking the gap by getting to the line and hitting their free throws. They went 22 of 27 from the charity stripe on the game. The Bulldogs’ 16 point advantage was reduced to 7 over an 11 and a half minute span. With 3:09 to go, the Bulldogs led 67-60.
“We had to just keep being aggressive and be relentless,” Willhite said. “They’re a good team so they fought hard and battled back.”
Boston College’s Corey Raji, brother of NFL defensive tackle B.J. Raji, hit two free throws to narrow the gap to five with 2:43 remaining. For the next two minutes, neither the Bulldogs or Eagles could put the ball through the hoop until Braswell drove to the basket and drew the foul. After Braswell sank both free throws, Jackson countered with a three-point play that closed the deficit to four with 43 seconds to go.
In a two possession game with little time remaining, the Eagles needed to force a turnover or foul. The Bulldogs were able to successfully inbound it to Braswell who was fouled and nailed two more free throws. A Boston College miss on their ensuing possession put the ball in Braswell’s hands for two more free-throws. The senior point guard calmly sank them both to put the game out of reach.
The Elis shot 50 percent from the field and 57 percent from beyond the three-point stripe. Willhite finished with 13 points while Braswell added 16. Both finished with five rebounds. On the defensive end, Yale held the Eagles to 16 percent shooting from three-point range and 40 percent overall. The Eagles’ junior guard Jackson finished with 30 points, a career-high, and eight rebounds.
“This is the biggest win of my career at Yale,” Braswell said in a press conference. “As a kid growing up, you watch Boston College and the ACC teams and to beat them is an incredible feeling.”
The Bulldogs will be in action next Tuesday night as they travel to Urbana-Champaign, Ill. to take on the University of Illinois at 9:45 p.m.