MEN’S BASKETBALL: Foul or flop? Yale loses to Vermont after controversial late-game decision
The Elis held a six-point lead in the game’s final three seconds, but Vermont made an and-1 three to win the game after getting the ball back on an offensive foul call.
For Vermont, it was a fairytale finish. For Yale, it was a moment of disbelief and a controversial referee decision.
The Yale men’s basketball team (5–4, 0–0 Ivy) fell to the University of Vermont (7–2, 0–0 AEC) Saturday night in Burlington after the Catamounts scored six points within the game’s final second of play to steal a 66–65 victory.
“We had our best team effort of the season,” head coach James Jones wrote the News. “Thought we played together.”
Yale played from behind for nearly the entire game, taking their first lead with 54 seconds remaining. Then, after guard Bez Mbeng ’25 sank two free throws to give the Bulldogs a 65–60 lead in the game’s final three seconds, Vermont pulled off the impossible.
After conceding a Vermont layup with 0.6 seconds left, all Yale needed to do was inbound the ball and head to the buses. However, an offensive foul called on guard August Mahoney ’24 gave the Catamounts the ball back. Vermont’s TJ Long caught the ball off an inbound play and hoisted a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer that banked in as time expired. He also got fouled on the play, and hit the free throw to win it.
“I thought August was fouled by the defender,” Jones wrote. “It was a flop.”
Vermont’s TJ Hurley fell to the ground after contact with Mahoney before the ball was inbounded. In the replay, Hurley appears to initiate the contact, grabbing Mahoney around the waist. As Mahoney tries to separate, Hurley hits the ground and the referee calls a foul.
Vermont scores six points in 3.8 seconds to win pic.twitter.com/Yc0OriPJui
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) December 3, 2023
The video circulated on social media following the game, and users expressed strong opinions on the whistle.
“That’s one of the worst offensive fouls in the history of basketball,” college basketball reporter Sean Paul wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “I didn’t even see contact. Just a total flop. Yikes.”
Mbeng lead the scoring for Yale, finishing with 18 points along with five rebounds. Forward Danny Wolf ’26 added 15 points and 16 rebounds, his second double-double of the season.
Aside from the heartbreaking defeat, it was an encouraging performance for the Bulldogs, who surrendered under 70 points to a Division I opponent for just the second time this season and held their own against a strong Vermont offense — and loud opposing crowd — despite a poor night from beyond the arc. The usually elite three-point shooting duo of Mahoney and John Poulakidas ’25 combined for just 2-9 from beyond the arc.
Vermont had a win probability of just 0.8 percent before the foul call on Mahoney.
“I thought the game was over,” Vermont head coach John Becker told the Burlington Free Press after the game.
The Elis will get an opportunity to bounce back this Wednesday against Fairfield.
Jones emphasized that the nature of the loss has no impact on the team’s mentality.
“Learn and move forward,” he wrote.
Wednesday’s game will tipoff at 7 p.m. back home at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.