Less than 24 hours after its victory over Harvard, the Yale men’s basketball team blew a five-point lead with just 35 seconds remaining and lost 59–58 to Dartmouth on a layup with 0.5 seconds remaining. The loss, coupled with a Crimson victory over Brown, means that Yale will face Harvard next Saturday in a one-game playoff to determine which squad will get the Ivy League’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Bulldogs and the Crimson will meet in a playoff on Saturday at the Palestra, home of the Penn Quakers, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to determine which team receives the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Yale (22–9, 11–3 Ivy), which led for most of Saturday evening’s game, was unable to finish off the Big Green (14–14, 7–7), who played the role of spoiler to hand the Bulldogs just their third conference loss this season and force Yale to share the Ivy League title with the Crimson.
The Elis started off strong in the first half, riding the momentum of their win against Harvard on Friday night to surge to a double-digit lead less than halfway through the first 20 minutes of play. The Bulldogs shot a strong 61.9 percent from the field, but 11 turnovers prior to intermission gave Yale a slim 30–29 lead heading into halftime.
Though Dartmouth shot just 40.0 percent in the first half, the Big Green had nine more shot opportunities in the period, as a result of not only the turnovers but also six offensive rebounds.
In the second half, the Bulldogs continued to hold onto their slim margin, consistently tested as Dartmouth continued to trail by one. But with just 1:45 remaining in the game, the Elis pushed their lead to two points. Guard Javier Duren ’15 extended the lead to five points with just 35 seconds left, but a foul by the Elis stopped the clock for the Big Green, who pulled to within three.
On Yale’s next possession, Dartmouth forced a jump ball, and guard Miles Wright nailed a three to tie the game with just 13 seconds remaining in the game. Duren stepped to the line with 2.3 seconds left, but converted just one of two free throws.
Dartmouth was forced to inbound the ball from the baseline, but the Big Green’s long pass was tipped out of bounds by forward Justin Sears ’16 on the opposite end of the court, setting up an inbounds play with 1.9 seconds remaining.
On senior night for Dartmouth, forward Gabas Maldunas made perhaps the biggest shot of his career, finishing a layup that would give Dartmouth just its second, and largest, lead of the night with half a second remaining. Maldunas, fouled on his basket, intentionally missed the free throw to drain the clock, and the Bulldogs were sent home on a low note, falling to fourth-place Dartmouth just one night after securing a share of the Ivy League title with a win in Cambridge.
Down the stretch, the Bulldogs missed a number of key free throws. Guard Armani Cotton ’15 and Duren combined to miss three free throws in the final 1:45 of the game, and the Elis finished just 9–17 from the charity stripe, including 6–13 in the second half alone.
This is just the second time this season that the Bulldogs have outrebounded an opponent and finished the game with a loss. The Big Green, however, outrebounded the Elis on the offensive glass, 13–11, and had fewer turnovers, 18–10. The difference in turnovers led to 13 more shots for the Big Green.
In perhaps the only bright spot of the game, the Bulldogs received a career-high 19 points from guard Makai Mason ’18.