MEN’S BASKETBALL | Offense sputters as Elis fall to Hartford

Guard Austin Morgan’s team-high 15 points were not enough to overcome a dismal shooting night by the Elis.
Guard Austin Morgan’s team-high 15 points were not enough to overcome a dismal shooting night by the Elis. Photo by Sari Levy.

After a slow offensive start, a 9–0 run in the middle of the first half against Hartford Thursday night capped by a layup from guard Austin Morgan ’13 gave the Elis a 16–13 lead and hope that Yale’s struggling offense may have finally found its stride.

Yet the Yale (2–6, 0–0 Ivy) offense again went cold, and a major run by Hartford (3–3, 0–0 America East) at the beginning of the second half gave the visiting Hawks at 60–51 victory over the Bulldogs at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. The game was the first in-state away game victory for Hartford since 2008.

“We can be all the nice guys we want,” Hartford head coach John Gallagher said. “But when you start winning games, then people start saying, you know what, they got something over there, and that’s what we’re striving for, that’s our approach every day.”

Before the Hawks separated themselves from the Elis, however, both offenses appeared sluggish in the opening minutes of the contest. With only six minutes remaining in the first half, the teams had combined for only 20 points. Hartford shot 37.5 percent from the floor during the first half, while the Bulldogs managed to shoot only 22.7 percent.

The poor shooting performances by the two squads kept the game close. As the first period expired, the Hawks led 21–18.

“We had not great effort offensively in our movement,” Yale head coach James Jones said. “Hartford did a good job of denying us, and we did a very poor job of utilizing parts of our offense as pressure releases, and we allowed them to dictate tempo to us.”

Jones added that the team also had opportunities to score both in the paint and from beyond the 3-point line that the Elis were not able to convert.

At the beginning of the second half, the Hawks were able to hit their stride offensively while the Elis continued to struggle.

In the opening two-and-a-half minutes of the period, Hartford’s Nate Sikma hit a 3-pointer and guard Yolonzo Moore II converted a layup. With 17:35 left in the contest, Hartford’s lead had quickly ballooned to 10 points, at 28–18.

Over the course of the next six minutes, the Hawks expanded their lead over the Bulldogs. In fact, after Hartford guard Wes Cole hit a 3-pointer with 11:36 left, Hawks had doubled the Elis’ score and led 46–23.

“Coach came in from the huddle right before the second half started and just told us the first four minutes … are the critical point, just being on the road,” Moore said. “We came out in the first four minutes and got the big lead.”

Despite the large deficit, the Bulldogs did not relent. Morgan’s 3-pointer with 8:33 remaining capped a 9–0 Bulldog run that closed the gap to 46–32. With 4:03 remaining, a Morgan layup cut the margin to seven, at 49–42.

In the end, the Elis were unable to overcome the 23-point deficit.  After Hartford recovered a loose ball with the Yale defense out of position, Cole drained a three to halt the Yale run.

“We got down 20 and that’s just a little bit too much to swallow sometimes,” Jones said.

Morgan scored a game-high 15 points, while Cole came off the bench to lead the Hawks with 12.

The Elis will continue their season next Wednesday against Bryant University in Rhode Island.

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