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Sarju’s Buzzer-Beater Lifts Bulldogs Past Maine, 86-85

Nyasha Sarju. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Nyasha Sarju. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Pair Of Buzzer-Beaters Help Yale Open New Year With A Win

Buzzer-Beaters (Instagram Video)

Video Highlights (YouTube - Maine Broadcast)

Orono, Maine - Nyasha Sarju banked in a short jumper at the buzzer to lift Yale past Maine, 86-85, in a back-and-forth contest on Sunday afternoon at the Cross Insurance Center. Yale shot a season-high 48.4 percent from the field and had five players score in double-figures.

Yale (6-7) led for most of the second half, but fell behind when Maine's Ashleigh Roberts hit a layup with 15 seconds to play to make it 85-84. Following a timeout, the Bulldogs began the final possession when Sarah Halejian dribbled up and gave it off to Janna Graf who passed to Sarju on the wing. Sarju took a couple dribbles to the hoop and banked home the winner just as time expired.

The buzzer-beater was the second of the day for Yale after Halejian hit a half-court heave at the halftime horn to give the Bulldogs a 47-41 lead.

Maine (6-8) roared back after the break with six straight points from Roberts to tie the game at 47-47 set up a closely contested second half.

The Black Bears eventually took a 55-53 lead on a Lauren Bodine three-pointer, but Yale came back with a Katie Werner layup to tie it and start a 8-0 spurt. Baskets by Lena Munzer, Halejian and Sarju capped Yale's run to make it 61-55 with 12:45 to play.

Alexandra Osborn-Jones hit two foul shots to give Yale its largest lead of the day at 78-71 with 5:13 to play, but Maine answered with a three-pointer from Liz Wood and layup by Sheraton Jones before a Zenab Keita layup put the Bulldogs ahead 80-76.

Sophie Weckstrom hit a three-pointer on the next possession for Maine with 3:31 to play and the teams traded baskets the rest of the way before Sarju's game-winner.

Maine jumped out to a 9-4 lead before a three-pointer by Graf and a three-point play by Sarju gave Yale its first lead. Neither team was able to build a lead of more than four points until the final 1:31 of the period when the Bulldogs closed the half on a 10-2 run.

Osborn-Jones opened the run with a layup to tie the game at 39-39, before Halejian hit a three-pointer. Munzer followed with a layup before Mikaela Gustafsson hit a layup for Maine with :03 left on the clock. On the inbounds, Halejian dribbled just over halfcourt and her heave banked in to give Yale a six-point lead at the break.

Halejian had a team-high 20 points with four assists, while Sarju added 16 points. Munzer scored a career-high 14 points off the bench and Graf and Osborn-Jones each added 12 points. The Bulldogs shot 48.4 percent from the field as a team and went 18-of-23 from the free throw line.

Wood led Maine with 23 points, while Roberts added 18 points and eight rebounds. Cherrish Wallace and Bodine added 15 and 13 points, respectively. The Black Bears shot 61.1 percent from the field, but committed 23 turnovers and were just 10-of-16 at the foul line.

Yale is back in action on Tuesday night when it closes out the non-conference slate at New Hampshire. Tip is set for 7 p.m.

Report filed by Jeff Mead, Yale Sports Publicity