The Yale men’s basketball team knew that Fairfield’s two big men, Deng Gai and Rob Thomson, were going to be a lot to handle. But although the Bulldogs were able to contain Gai, Thomson still managed to surprise the Elis.
Thomson was 0-4 in his career from three-point range until Sunday, when he connected on four of five to lead Fairfield to a 71-57 win over Yale (4-3) at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. The 6-foot-10-inch center finished with 19 points and five rebounds.
“It surprised me that Robby Thomson was four-of-five from the three-point arc,” Yale head coach James Jones said. “But we did it to ourselves. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
Yale was happy, at first, to let Thomson have the downtown shot.
“They came off me and were letting me shoot [the three],” Thomson said.
But the Bulldogs still could have won despite letting Thomson have open looks at the basket from deep. It was more the 18 team turnovers, settling for three-pointers, and poor rebounding that cost Yale the game.
“We got some very good looks at the basket,” Jones said. “But we settled for three-point shots. We were in the bonus with 12 minutes to go, but we didn’t take it strong to the hole [to draw fouls].”
Fairfield’s Gai, who fouled out of the game, deserves some of the credit for that reluctance to attack. Gai had five blocks in the first half alone and finished with six snuffs for the game and nine rebounds, including five on the offensive side of floor.
Captain Matt Minoff ’04, who had 10 points and four blocks, likewise questioned the team’s decision-making.
“I thought we did a good job of playing hard tonight,” Minoff said. “But not very smart.”
Fairfield put pressure on the ball, knowing that Yale plays only one true point guard, Alex Gamboa ’05.
“One of the things we thought we had to do was put pressure on Gamboa,” Fairfield head coach Tim O’Toole said.
While Gamboa rested, Edwin Draughan ’05 ran the point for the Elis. Though Draughan finished with 10 rebounds, Fairfield was able to force him into six turnovers.
Dewitt Maxwell and Terrence Todd had three steals each for the Stags. Maxwell scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Spurred by two three-pointers by Mark Lovett ’05, Yale twice cut the lead to four with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game. The first time, Fairfield’s Maxwell responded with a three-point bucket, and the second time he nailed a jumper.
“Witt [Maxwell] was really good today,” O’Toole said. “[His] three-pointer [when the lead was at four] was huge — huge.”
In addition to being excited about Maxwell’s play, O’Toole emphasized the respect with which he regards Yale.
“It’s a great win for us,” he said. “We have the utmost respect for Yale. These guys are up there at the half against [the University of Connecticut] — well, heck, every time we’ve been there we’re down 20.”
Center Dominick Martin ’05 led the Bulldogs with 15 points on six of 11 from the field. He also had three blocks. Martin currently leads the Elis in scoring with 14.7 points per game.
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