Bulldogs Extend Winning Streak To Six With Dramatic Victory
KINGSTON, R.I. – Yale extended its winning streak to six straight games, but it sure didn't come easy. The Bulldogs needed a five-point play with 18 seconds left to help knock off Rhode Island 68-65 before a stunned crowd of 3,355 at the Thomas Ryan Center.
With Yale down by two, 63-61, Austin Morgan hit a three-pointer from just right of the top of the key with 18 seconds left. URI's Rayvon Harris was hit with a foul trying to fight through a screen on the play. Morgan's basket counted, and Jeremiah Kreisberg added a pair of free throws to make it 66-63.
"Our first option was to go to Greg [Mangano]down low to try and tie it. Austin was on the same side, and he was the second option," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball. "Austin did a great job knocking down the shot, and Jeremiah set a great screen."
Still, the Runnin' Rams had a chance to tie in the final seconds. Mike Powell's driving layup pulled URI within one, 66-65, with nine seconds left. After a timeout, Yale inbounded the ball to Michael Grace, who was quickly fouled. He made both free throws with seven seconds remaining.
Rhode Island's Jonathan Holton missed a contested three-pointer from the wing as time expired.
Morgan finished with 19 points to pace the Bulldogs. All five of his field goals were three-pointers, and he was 4-of-4 from the foul line. Kreisberg and Mangano each added 15 points, and Grace scored seven.
At 8-2 overall, Yale is off to its best start since the 1991-92 team won 10 of its first 12 games. The six-game winning streak is the longest for the Bulldogs since 2001-02.
Three times during the winning streak, Yale has trailed at the half, and that was the case again against the Rams.
Perhaps showing the effects of a 10-day layoff for exams, the Bulldogs started slowly. URI (1-10) led by 13, 32-19, with three minutes left in the first half. The Bulldogs, though, closed the half with an 11-4 run to pull within 36-30 at the intermission.
The momentum carried over into the second half. Just seven minutes in, Yale had the lead and it grew to 10, 61-51, on a Mangano layup with 6:13 left.
The Bulldogs, though, didn't score again until Morgan's dramatic three-pointer.
"It feels good to get this win," Jones said. "We squandered a lead, but were able to come back. I think we showed a lot of resiliency."
Yale made nine three-pointers in the game and was 7-of-13 from beyond the arc in the second half.
"They switched to a zone, and we knocked down some shots," Jones said. "We did a poor job handling their pressure in the first half."
Isaiah Salafia hit two big three-pointers in the second half to account for his six points.
Nikola Malesevic led Rhode Island with 25 points.
NOTES: Yale was 19-of-22 from the foul line in the game… During the six-game winning streak, the Bulldogs have outscored their opponents 127-75 at the free throw line… Mangano had two blocked shots, giving him 171 for his career, one behind Chris Dudley's school record… Reggie Willhite had four assists in the game, including one on Morgan's dramatic three-pointer… The players will now head home for the holiday before getting back together in North Carolina on Dec. 27. The Bulldogs play at Wake Forest on Dec. 29 before heading to Gainesville, Fla., for a New Year's Eve matchup with Florida.
Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity