MEN’S BASKETBALL: No. 14 Yale trails No. 3 LSU 45–29 after cold first half
Tigers outscore Yale in the paint, 24–14
Yale launched 17 three-pointers in the first half. Only three found the bottom of the net.
The Bulldogs (22–7, 10–4 Ivy) shot an uncharacteristic 10 of 34 from the field in the first half of their first round NCAA tournament match with No. 3 LSU (26–6, 16–2 SEC). Despite regaining composure after a scoreless start and eight points each from guards Alex Copeland ’19 and Azar Swain ’21, LSU’s size around the rim forced Yale beyond the arc and led the Tigers to a sizable advantage at the break. Five Tigers have scored more than five points, including 13 from guard Tremont Waters and eight from senior forward Kavell Bigby-Williams.
In spite of sizable support in a fan section across the court from the Bulldog bench, Yale and its start lacked in comparison to the Tigers’. Copeland, not guard Trey Phills ’19, defended Waters to start, and the Bayou Bengals raced to an early lead behind two early triples from Waters and freshman forward Naz Reid. Head coach James Jones called a timeout with 17:17 to play in the half and the Tigers leading 9–0.
Early on, Yale seemed slightly timid driving to a rim protected chiefly by 6-foot-10, 250-pound Reid. The top-20 projected NBA draft prospect finished with five in the half, at one point slamming home a vicious one-handed dunk on the fast break.
Checking in at the scorer’s table about a minute earlier than usual, guard Azar Swain ’21 and forward Paul Atkinson ’21 entered the game with 15:37 to play. Swain quickly offered key points for the Elis, knocking down two three-pointers from about the same spot on the floor to keep Yale within single digits and drawing a foul on another attempt from deep.
Several Eli shots, including many attempts from behind the arc, just barely rimmed out in the first half, but Yale kept the Tiger lead below single digits for much of the half. The Bulldogs finished the frame shooting 29 percent, while their three-seed opponents converted 18 of 30 shots from the field.
Although Yale outrebounded LSU on the offensive boards in the first half, thanks to four rebounds from forward Jordan Bruner ’20, the Tigers dominated the defensive glass, collecting 17 compared to Yale’s nine.
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