After the Yale men’s basketball team sent the Quinnipiac Bobcats packing in March in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament on a buzzer-beater from forward Justin Sears, the two squads squared off in a grudge match on Friday.
But this time, the Bobcats (1–0, 0–0 Metro Atlantic) came away with a victory by the skin of their teeth, needing two overtime periods to finally put away the Bulldogs (0–1, 0–0 Ivy) by a final score of 88–85.
“We know how good we can be,” point guard Javier Duren ’15 said. “Tonight wasn’t all bad — we had flashes of how good we can be when we’re moving and sharing the ball. Ultimately, we just need to move past it because it’s a long season and this is the first game. It’s a building block.”
Yale managed to keep Quinnipiac in check early on as the Bulldogs controlled action from the opening tip. Besides an approximately 30-second stretch where the score was 3–2 Quinnipiac, Yale led for the first 19 minutes of action.
Keying the attack was the pair of Sears and Duren. The duo accounted for 21 of Yale’s first 24 points, pacing the Elis en route to a 24–16 advantage.
That lead grew to 11 points on two different occasions in the first half thanks to layups by forward Sam Downey ’17 and guard Khaliq Ghani ’16. Ghani’s layup came with 8:11 remaining in the first half, at which point Quinnipiac called a timeout and slowly began cutting into the 31–20 deficit.
The Bobcats proceeded to go on a 16–5 run with 14 of those points coming from forward Zaid Hearst, Quinnipiac’s leading scorer from a year ago, and guard Evan Conti.
But Duren capped off the first half with eight of Yale’s final nine points, including a hard drive and acrobatic finish on the final possession to give the Bulldogs a 40–38 edge at halftime.
At the intermission, Duren led all scorers with 19 points on an efficient 7–8 mark from the field. Sears had also reached double digits in points despite struggling from the field and not registering a point for the half’s final 10 minutes.
Hearst finished the first half with 17 points, but his career day was far from over.
Quinnipiac came out of the locker room on a mission, posting the first eight points of the half and turning a two-point deficit into a six-point advantage.
After that run, the Bobcats staved off each Yale attempt to swing the momentum until the 9:29 mark of the second half. After a careless Quinnipiac foul, Ghani knocked down three free throws to finally put the Bulldogs ahead once more.
The 56–55 lead was short-lived, as Hearst knocked down another mid-range jump shot on the ensuing possession. Surprisingly, Yale’s next rally was sparked by Duren heading to the bench.
After Duren picked up his fourth foul with 8:04 left to play, guard Jack Montague ’16 entered the ball game. Just a few minutes later, Montague scored five straight points on his own to tie things up at 63 apiece with 4:26 left to play.
Neither team scored until a Hearst jumper with 2:15 remaining broke the deadlock for the Bobcats. Sears responded with a game-tying layup that snapped his personal scoring drought of over 30 minutes.
Yale would score the next points, two Duren free throws, to give itself a 67–65 lead with 42 seconds remaining — a scenario that would leave Jones shaking his head at the end of the night.
“All we needed to do was get a stop and we win the game,” Jones said.
The Bulldogs forced a miss from point guard Kasim Chandler, but Quinnipiac’s Ousmane Drame snatched the offensive rebound on the weak side. He went up and finished the lay-up despite a Sears foul. With a chance to give the Bobcats a one-point lead at the charity stripe, Drame clanged it off the iron, giving the Bulldogs another chance to win at the buzzer against their crosstown rivals.
But the Elis failed to get a clean look at the basket as Duren had his attempt from the perimeter blocked, resulting in the first of two overtime periods.
Yale’s chances at victory appeared bleak as the first overtime played out, with Quinnipiac opening on a 7–1 run. Trailing by six with less than two minutes to play, Sears converted an and-one and put-back lay-up on consecutive possessions to keep the Bulldogs alive.
With 23 seconds left, Chandler drew a fifth foul on Duren, forcing the guard to exit with 26 points, matching his regular season career high. The Quinnipiac guard only hit one of two free throws, leaving Yale an opportunity to tie the game on its final possession.
Montague confidently banged home a three-pointer with 14 seconds remaining to send the game to a second overtime period.
Yale found itself depleted in the second overtime. After trading baskets for the first few minutes, Quinnipiac managed to build a five-point edge with less than a minute to play.
Yale captain Greg Kelley ’15, known for his ability to shoot from distance, entered with 47 seconds left but missed on two attempts from long range on the Bulldogs’ next possession. This time, Yale was able to succeed on the offensive glass as Sears made his presence felt one more, slamming home his first dunk of the season in addition to being fouled.
After hitting the free throw, Yale only trailed by two but had just 24 seconds to play. The Bulldogs proceeded to foul Hearst after the inbounds pass and watch the forward earn a new career high with his 35thpoint of the night coming from the charity stripe.
But after only making one of two, the Bulldogs remained within one bucket. Montague rushed the ball up the court with 18 seconds to play and no timeouts, created some space and looked to recreate the magic from one overtime prior. Montague never got the shot off, however, as the ball slipped from his hands, sealing the Bulldogs’ fate and clinching Quinnipiac’s first victory of the season.
Ultimately, Yale’s inability to keep the top rebounding team in the nation a season ago off the glass went a long way in the Elis’ loss. The Bobcats outrebounded Yale 54-38, including 22 offensive rebounds that seemed to come at the most critical moments in the ball game.
Yale will take on Division III opponent Newbury on Monday night at 7 p.m.