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ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Monday, January 21, 2013

Yale's offense struggles in Ivy League opener

Here is my recap of Yale's Ivy League men's basketball season-opening loss at Brown.
The two teams play again this Saturday at New Haven.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — After struggling offensively at the beginning of the season, the Yale men’s basketball team seemed to have things straightened out heading into Saturday’s Ivy League opener.
Not so fast.
Sean McGonagill led four Brown players in double figures with 20 points and the Bears cruised to a 65-51 win at the Pizzitola Center. The Bulldogs, who scored just 35 points in their second game of the season and only 47 in a game a week later, looked like they were back to square one. Greg Kelley led Yale (6-12) with 11 points and no one else scored in double figures for the Bulldogs, who shot just 33 percent for the game.
“(The offense) was stale and stagnant. Not enough energy,” Yale coach James Jones said. “We didn’t do a good job of moving. When you don’t move and you don’t set good screens you don’t run a good offense. We had tough shots all night and it’s hard to make tough shots.
Yale entered the game averaging 77 points over its last seven contests and twice topped 100 in the stretch. But nothing worked on Saturday.
“I’m extremely disappointed with our offense,” Jones said. “Brown packs it in on defense, so it wasn’t like they were denying us. We just failed to have enough energy to play the way we should.”
The most telling stat of all in Saturday’s debacle was that Yale didn’t record an assist for the game’s first 28 minutes, finishing with just four.
“It’s always tough to win a game when you don’t have an assist,” Yale senior guard Austin Morgan said. “We have to work on spreading the court and trying to look for each other. Ivy League basketball is different. You have to execute at a much higher level when the league starts.
“We were ready, but this is not what we envisioned.”
Yale’s offensive woes were so bad in the beginning of the second half that Jones could barely watch. He strolled to the end of the bench, then stood off the court with his arms folded in disbelief.
“I thought our guys came out a little tight,” Jones said. “One of the things about playing so many games on the road, you’d figure that our guys would have experienced it.”
Brown got 13 points from Matt Sullivan and 11 from Stephen Albrecht in beating Yale for the first time in the last six meetings.
“This is big for us,” McGonagill said. “It’s always huge to start the Ivy League with a win and we haven’t done that, so that made this game very important.”
Yale led only in the game’s opening minutes. Then Jones went to his second unit and they were outscored 11-4 as the Bears took a 17-13 lead. Brown never trailed again.
The Bears took a 33-24 lead into the half and then opened up a 21-point lead with 14:25 left to play. That’s the only time the Bulldogs showed some life. Kelley scored seven straight points in a 14-0 Yale run to cut the deficit to 49-42 with 9:50 to play.
But Yale couldn’t get the ball inbounds on its next possession and McGonagill ended the comeback bid with a difficult, fade-away 3-pointer in front of the Brown bench.
“You’re not going to hold them scoreless forever,” Jones said. “You want to make sure you can weather the storm and we didn’t do that.”
“That was a turning point in the game,” Morgan said. “He’s a great shooter and that was the biggest play of the game.”
Said Brown coach Mike Martin: “I expect that from Sean. He’s one of, if not the best guard in the league. I have all the faith in the world in McGonagill.”
Yale never got closer than eight the rest of the way and Albrecht put the game out of reach with back-to-back 3-pointers soon after. Brown hit 8 of 20 from beyond the arc while Yale finished 4-for-22.
The two teams meet again next week at the Lee Amphitheater. Brown, which has finished near the bottom of the league for the past several years, seems poised for a better finish. The Bears (7-8) have won three straight and beat Providence earlier in the season.

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