Notwithstanding last night’s solid effort, the men’s basketball team still encountered early-season roadblocks.enior reporter

Though the Bulldogs (1-4) gave Holy Cross a run for its money at Lee Amphitheater, coming within one point with 10:48 to go, they could not come up with a win against the 6-1 Crusaders. Despite 13-point contributions from guard Eric Flato ’08 and forward Ross Morin ’09, Yale ultimately came up short, losing 63-58.

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“I thought our effort was good,” Yale head coach James Jones said, “We’re still working to become a team, but I don’t think we’re there yet.”

This may not be such a daunting defeat considering Holy Cross’ impressive start and strong performance against No. 15 Syracuse, a 72-64 loss on Nov. 27.

“I was worried with a one-day preparation, that we would be at a disadvantage, but I was really proud of this team,” Holy Cross head coach Ralph Willard said. “This is as good a win as we’ve had in a while.”

The defeat was the Elis’ fourth straight, coming in the wake of an 0-2 road trip to Ohio and a disappointing home loss to Bucknell last week.

“Four [losses] in a row wears on you,” Morin said.

But not everything was disheartening about last night’s loss. The Bulldogs played neck-and-neck with the Patriot League powerhouse, matching the Crusaders on points from turnovers (12), points in the paint (30) and second-chance points (nine for Holy Cross and 10 for Yale). In addition, Yale held a slight lead over Holy Cross in both offensive and defensive rebounds (9-7, 22-18).

“Yale plays real physical and bumps you around. We knew it would be a physical game,” said Holy Cross guard Keith Simmons, who finished the night with four points and five rebounds. “Their record may not reflect it, but they are a good team. They gave us a good run.”

The two teams even had nearly identical field goal production, with the Elis hitting 46.8 percent of their shots and Holy Cross dropping 47.8 percent, and both teams capitalized on 22 attempts.

But Yale failed to connect from three-point territory, not making a single basket on four attempts. Jones said the team’s three-point attempts were low for what they should have been. By comparison, Holy Cross made six treys on eleven shots.

The Bulldogs also struggled to achieve and to retain a lead. The first and only Yale advantage occurred in the first three minutes of play when forward Casey Hughes ’07 tallied the first basket of the night on a layup.

Though the Elis narrowed the gap later in the game — they came within four with 7:08 to go in the first half and on several occasions late in the second — they were unable to capture the lead.

“Once we come back, we need to get that lead and we need to keep it,” Morin said.

A 6-0 rally midway through the second half brought the Elis within one. Reserve forward Jason Abromaitis ’07 and Hughes each sunk a pair of foul shots, and forward Travis Pinick ’09 followed with a layup to cut Holy Cross’ lead to 37-36. But three fouls and four missed shots in the next three minutes cost the Bulldogs their chance at a win.