Valliant Effort Falls Just Short At Rutgers

Javier Duren (
Javier Duren (

Bulldogs Drop 72-71 Heartbreaker

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Yale was 15 seconds away from pulling off a big early-season upset. Instead the Bulldogs' trip to The RAC ended in heartbreak.

Kadeem Jack made two free throws with 14.6 seconds left to lift Rutgers to a 72-71 hard-fought victory before a very nervous crowd of 4,487 New Jerseyites.

Yale had a chance to win in a chaotic last few seconds. The Bulldogs inbounded the ball under the basket and sent a lob pass to Nick Victor, but his shot deflected off the rim as time expired.

"The design was to get the ball to the middle, and we had a good shot," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball. "We had a chance there, but came up short."

The loss spoiled what was a terrific performance from the Bulldogs (1-2). Javier Duren scored a career-high 22 points to lead four players in double figures. Justin Sears added 12, Armani Cotton scored 11 and Brandon Sherrod chipped in with 10.

"We executed our offense pretty well and were able to limit turnovers," Jones said. "That's what you want to do playing on the road."

Yale (1-2) led 37-34 at halftime and held the lead all the way until Rutgers' J.J. Moore hit a three-pointer after a turnover with 30 seconds left. That gave the Scarlet Knights a 70-69 lead. The Bulldogs answered quickly when Cotton made two free throws with 26 seconds left.

Yale was then whistled for a foul with 14 seconds remaining, and Jack, who had missed four of five free throws earlier in the game, made both.

Jack finished with 18 points and Myles Mack added 17 to pace Rutgers (2-1).

Yale, which entered the game with a +11 rebounding margin, was outrebounded 37-29 by the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers grabbed 15 offensive rebounds, which led to 22 second-chance points.

"We played well in a lot of areas tonight, but rebounding was not one of them," Jones said. "We are usually a very good rebounding team - and have been for the last two years - but today we didn't do the job."

The Bulldogs played an outstanding first half, shooting 53.8 percent from the field in building the three-point lead. Jesse Pritchard made three three-pointers to pace Yale's offense.

Free throw shooting kept Rutgers in the game. The Scarlet Knights were 11-of-14 from the line, while the Bulldogs went only 4-of-7.

The game was a homecoming for Sears, who grew up in Plainfield, N.J., which is about 10 miles from the Rutgers campus. Sears got into early foul trouble but scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half.

"It was a great experience. It brought back a lot of memories," said Sears, who won a pair of state championships at The RAC while playing for Plainfield High School. "I could hear some of the fans calling me `too tall' which was my nickname in high school."

The Bulldogs are now off until Tuesday when they play their home opener against Sacred Heart. Tip off at the John J. Lee Amphitheater is slated for 7 p.m.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity