Heading into the second half against Army Saturday, Yale sharpshooter Scott Gaffield ’04 was missing his mark. In the previous two and half games, the 6-6 guard shot under 17 percent from the field while hitting only two of his 14 3-point attempts.
In that second frame against Army, though, Gaffield found his touch, spurring a key Yale run that put the game away, giving the Elis an 83-73 win over the Black Knights. Gaffield and guard Matt Minoff ’04 both came off the bench to score in double figures for the Elis, who moved over the .500 mark for the first time since January 1996.
“When you shoot your way into a slump, you have got to shoot your way out of it,” Gaffield said.
Gaffield’s 10-point performance made him only one of six players who scored in double figures as Yale (4-3) used its depth to dispatch the Black Knights (3-2). In only 17 minutes of work, Minoff paced Eli scorers with 15 points while hauling in seven rebounds.
“It is very difficult to know who to hold on this team because they are all capable,” head coach James Jones said.
Army coach Pat Harris echoed Jones’ statement. Even though he had watched game tape to prepare for the contest, Harris was not prepared for Eli reserves to do so much damage.
“Minoff played a lot better than I have seen on film,” Harris said.
Four minutes into the second half, Army pulled within a bucket at 40-38. Yale then went on 11-2 run fueled by a layup and a 3-pointer from Gaffield to take a 51-40 lead with 12 minutes to play.
After 5 points from standout Chris Spatola and a Yale free throw, Army shaved the lead down to 7 points. Gaffield answered with another 3-point bucket and Army would get no closer than 8 points the rest of the way.
“They responded very well to our scoring,” Harris said. “If we hit a three, they came back down and responded.”
The Elis also did a quality job in containing Spatola. The senior guard’s 15 points were five below his average coming into the contest. Spatola did not make his first field goal until 29 minutes into the game, and eight of his points came in the final minutes, once Yale held a comfortable lead.
“We weren’t going to let him beat us,” Minoff said.
While Minoff and Gaffield added double figures off the bench, four of Yale’s starting five achieved the same feat. Paul Vitelli ’04 and Alex Gamboa ’05 chipped in 14 points, Edwin Draughan ’05 added 13, and Ime Archibong ’03 netted 11.
Eight Elis played over 16 minutes, giving Yale fresh legs on defense and making individual foul trouble less of an issue.
“Everyone can play as hard as they possibly can when they are out there,” Minoff said.
Yale returns to the hardwood 7 p.m. Monday night at Colgate (3-2). It will be the second contest in a five-day stretch in which the Elis play three games.
“It is not tougher than playing back-to-back in the Ivy League,” Jones said, referring to the Friday-Saturday games that make up the league schedule. “But it is hard to scout and get guys well-prepared.”