For the second time in two games this season, the Yale men’s basketball team rallied from a double-digit deficit at halftime, and for the second time this season, the team’s comeback fell short.
After losing to Sacred Heart Friday, the Bulldogs fell 68–63 to Hofstra (1–1) in the first round of the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off Monday night at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn.
“I think when we get close, we start to ease up,” captain Alex Zampier ’10 said of the second consecutive close loss. “We have to start keeping up the intensity if we want to get over the hump.”
The game was back and forth for much of the first half. Behind five points from center Paul Nelson ’10 and four from guard Michael Grace ’13, the game was tied 23–23 with 3:51 to go in the period.
Hofstra’s Nathaniel Lester then scored two quick buckets, and Cornelius Vines added a three-pointer to complete a 7–1 run and send the Elis into halftime trailing 30–24.
The Pride came out strong at the beginning of the second half, beginning the half on a 6–2 run in the first two minutes and forcing Yale head coach James Jones to call a timeout.
Out of the timeout, Zampier came out firing, scoring seven points in the next three minutes for the Elis. But Yale’s defense couldn’t keep the Pride off the board, as Hofstra scored nine points in the same span, including two buckets from Lester.
After a three pointer from Austin Morgan ’13, Lester struck again, converting a basket and two free throws to extend the Pride’s lead to 51–36, before assisting on a Miklos Szabo jumper that gave the Pride a 17-point lead.
But the Bulldogs struck back yet again, as Jordan Gibson ’10 followed up a Mike Sands ’11 layup with a quick steal and a three-point play at the other end.
That seemed to spark the Elis, who went on a 19–10 run in the next eight minutes to cut Hofstra’s lead to three with just 1:44 to go.
The Pride’s Charles Jenkins then scored four points in the next minute to build the lead back to eight with 28 seconds to go, and Austin Morgan’s third three-pointer of the game was not enough to lift Yale, as the Bulldogs fell 68–63, their second tough loss in a row to begin the season.
Yet even in defeat, Monday’s game was an improvement for the Elis, particularly on the defensive end. After yielding a 55 percent field goal percentage to Sacred Heart Friday, the Bulldogs held Hofstra under 50 percent from the field and forced 22 turnovers.
“Today was a step forward,” Gibson said. “We played better at the beginning and played much better defensively. We had our chances.”
Jones said the team needs to establish its inside game instead of settling for perimeter shots.
“We can’t just be a jump shooting team, we have to get things inside,” Jones said. “We were better tonight than Friday. We’re still defining roles.”
The Elis will not have long to dwell on Monday’s loss, as they will be back in action Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Storrs, Conn., against Colgate, which lost to host No. 13 UConn 77–63 in the nightcap of Monday night’s doubleheader in Storrs.