Yale completed its non-conference play with a 69-63 loss to Army in West Point, N.Y. Monday night.
The Elis built 10-point and nine-point leads at the beginning of the first and second half, respectively. But some rushed shots by the Bulldogs allowed Army to climb back.
“We played selfishly and didn’t move the ball around enough,” Yale head coach James Jones said. “We took some quick shots and didn’t score for a three-minute stretch in the second half. We let them back into the game.”
Yale’s shooting woes continued; the Bulldogs made only 10 of 31 from beyond the arc.
The Elis’ record in non-conference play has been less than ideal. Since winning the Phoenix Classic in Hartford on Dec. 12, Yale dropped six games to Division I teams, five against nonconference opponents.
The sixth loss came in Yale’s Ivy League opener against Brown on Saturday night at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. Brown beat Yale 78-66.
The Ivy opener, postponed 24 hours because of an early-morning traffic accident on Friday that claimed the lives of four Yale students, began on a somber note.
Before the playing of the national anthem, Yale Athletic Director Tom Beckett announced that Nicholas Grass ’05 had passed away Friday afternoon from injuries sustained during the accident. The three other students killed in the crash included Sean Fenton ’04, Andrew Dwyer ’05, and Kyle Burnat ’05. Beckett followed his announcement by asking the audience for a moment of silence to remember the four students.
“As we are about to begin this competition with our colleagues and friends from Brown University, we pause to remember the four students lost in this tragic event,” Beckett said.
When the game finally began, Yale’s performance was sluggish from the start. In the first seven minutes, the Elis turned the ball over five times and gave Brown a 16-5 lead, repeating the same mistakes that had plagued them in their earlier nonconference contests this season. When asked if the accident had anything to do with Yale’s tentative start, Jones had no answer.
“It’s kind of hard to judge,” Jones said. “It’s kind of hard to put your finger on where guys’ heads are. We started the last two games well but I don’t know what happened tonight,” Jones said.
A three-pointer by Mark Lovett ’05 cut the Elis’ deficit to five, but Brown answered with an 11-5 run in the last 5:25 of the first half to take a 36-25 lead into halftime. The Elis looked hesitant on offense the entire half, failing to play the type of team-oriented basketball that brought them so much success last season.
“That was not our best effort; I guarantee it,” captain Chris Leanza ’03 said. “At the beginning of the game, we were walking around on offense. Nobody was moving. We weren’t working together and our team chemistry wasn’t there.”
The second half did not start well for Yale either. In the first two minutes of the half, Brown continued the run it began in the first half, extending its lead to 42-26, the largest margin of the game.
With 15:33 on the clock, the Elis finally woke up. Yale mounted a 21-6 comeback run, allowing just one Brown field goal over nine minutes of play. With 6:12 left in the game, the Elis were within one, 52-51, but Brown clinched its first Ivy win of the season with its own 27-13 run.
“Of course [the loss was] frustrating,” center T.J. McHugh ’03 said. “It feels like we gave one away. When you don’t even go out there and give your best effort, it’s frustrating.”
Brown owes its win in large part to guard Earl Hunt, a first team All-Ivy selection last season. Hunt had a game-high 32 points, more than Yale’s top two scorers, McHugh (16 points) and Leanza (14), combined.
“We couldn’t stop Earl Hunt in the second half,” Jones said. “He’s a very good player and he stepped up for them. He did a great job against us tonight.”
Yale had a hand in its own loss, hitting only 38.2 percent of its shots from the floor compared to Brown’s 46.3 percent. The Elis, who came into the game at the top of the league in both three-point shooting (39.7 percent) and free throws (74.3 percent), far underperformed in both categories. In the first half, Yale made a dismal five of 10 free throws and shot a mere one of eight from beyond the arc. Despite an improved second half performance, Yale’s shooting still fell well short of its previous percentages.
“We need to get into the mindset that every single game, every single possession — offensive, defensive — every single pass is important,” forward Ime Archibong ’03 said. “It’s not just important to the 16 guys that are with you, but important to the program, the success of the program and where we want to get to. I don’t know if we’re all doing that right now.”