Yale’s men’s basketball team entered its matchup with the University of Hartford heavily favored, but the game came down to the final minutes.
The Bulldogs battled back from a six-point halftime deficit to clip the Hartford Hawks 74–69 at Chase Family Arena in West Hartford, Conn. last night. Although they led by as many as six points in the first half, the Bulldogs let the Hawks back into the game. Head coach James Jones said the Bulldogs struggled to find the open man in the first half.
“I just didn’t think we made the right play,” Jones said. “They doubled us and we were open a lot. We know that teams are going to double-team us because we have size inside, so we just have to make the right play.”
Freshman guard Wes Cole kept Hartford on pace with the Elis by nailing three straight three-pointers. Senior guard and captain Andres Torres led the Hawks on an 8–2 run with a steal and four points to close out the half.
But guard Austin Morgan ’13 kept the Bulldogs in the game. Morgan scored 12 of his game-high 26 points in the opening half. He continued to hit clutch shots down the stretch for the Elis and connected from long-distance to tie the game at 56. He brought the score to 65–63 with another three-pointer with less than five minutes to play.
This was Morgan’s second straight 20-plus point performance, as he recorded a career-high 27 points at Army last Saturday. Hitting 10 of his last 18 long-range attempts, Morgan has been strong from beyond the arc lately, but he said he is not forcing his own shot.
“You can’t take the fool’s gold,” Morgan said. “The team works best going inside-out and getting high percentage shots inside.”
Morgan was not the only Bulldog to step up in the second half. Greg Mangano ’12 scored 15 points in the final frame and captain Reggie Willhite ’12 was the third Eli to score double-digit points in the second half. Willhite added 12 points and put the game on ice with a steal and breakaway two-handed flush to cap a 6–0 run that put Yale up 71–65 with minutes to go.
Despite coming into the matchup with no wins and six losses, the Hawks kept pace with the Bulldogs throughout the game. Shooting 50 percent from the floor, the Hawks performed nothing like the squad that was steamrolled by Central Connecticut State 92–58 last Sunday.
Leading 38–33 with 17:01 to play, momentum turned against Hartford when it lost Torres to the bench for most of the second half. The Hawks’ head coach, John Gallagher, pulled Torres when he was charged with a technical foul for instigating a shoving match with Isaiah Salafia ’14.
“Playing 10 minutes in the second half without your senior point guard in a game like that does nobody any good,” Gallagher said. “[Torres] is going to have to have to improve [his composure] … Not having him on the floor, it just hurts our program.”
Yale returns home to face the University of Vermont this Saturday at 2 p.m.