The Yale men’s basketball team was unable to overcome its poor shooting night and cold start, falling to Harvard Saturday night 52–50.
Yale (16–7, 5–1 Ivy) converted only three field goals in the entire first half, shooting an abysmal 13.6 percent from the field and 0–6 from beyond the arc.
“Our offense, we just did not do what we planned to do, or what we talked about executing,” head coach James Jones said. “We didn’t move the ball well enough to be successful offensively, and when we did, we got good shots. We were trying to hit a home run on almost every play.”
At the end of the first half, every starter other than forward Matt Townsend ’15 was shooting zero percent from the field. Townsend hit two of his four field goal attempts to lead all scorers with six points, and forward Greg Kelley ’15 added a field goal.
Guard Javier Duren ’15 assisted on all three made field goals as Yale scored just 11 points, converting five of eight free throws. This was the Elis’ lowest point total at the half since scoring 20 during their blowout loss against Florida on Dec. 8.
In perhaps the only bright spot of the half for the men in blue, Yale held Harvard (15–5, 5–1) to just 16 points even though the Crimson shot 30.8 percent from the field. The Bulldogs held last season’s Ivy League Player of the Year, Wesley Saunders, to four points in the first half.
“We did a good job of defending in the first half,” Duren said. “We wanted to replicate that [in the second half]. Offensively, we weren’t too good in the first half, so we definitely preached getting back to what we do: sharing the ball and moving the ball on offense.”
The Bulldogs seemed to find their groove early in the second half, making three field goals in the first two minutes of the period. Guard Jack Montague ’16 hit a three to bring the Elis within one with just over 17 minutes remaining in the game.
Yale continued to trail as the clock wound down. The Crimson led by three with under six minutes to go and then went on a 7–0 run to push the lead to double digits with just over a minute and a half remaining in the game.
The Elis’ defense would provide Yale with opportunities down the stretch, as turnovers gave the Bulldogs a chance to pull within two with 35 seconds to go, but the Elis failed to capitalize. With just seven seconds remaining on the clock, Montague hit another three to help the Elis close the gap to two, but Saunders knocked in two free throws to seal the deal for Harvard.
It was a rough showing for the Bulldogs, who were outscored 28–12 in the paint and outrebounded 42–32. Perhaps more telling, the Elis grabbed only eight offensive rebounds in 37 chances while the Crimson corralled 10 offensive rebounds in 30 opportunities.
“We didn’t do a good job offensive rebounding,” Jones said. “We missed a ton of shots, and we didn’t get many of them back. That was the issue. They did a great job of controlling the paint, and we didn’t have enough guys going after the ball.”
Duren and Sears, who have carried the load for the Bulldogs early this season, struggled from the field. Sears had the fewest opportunities of all the starters, with just seven field goal attempts in the game. Duren was 3–11, with all his baskets coming from behind the arc, giving him nine points for the night and 1,000 career points as an Eli. Montague finished with a team-high 11 points, and Saunders led all scorers with 16 for the Crimson. Townsend also ended the night in double figures, scoring 10 points on 50 percent shooting from the field.
Yale travels to Penn and Princeton next weekend, and the Bulldogs will look to return to their winning ways on the road.