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Hot Shooting Lifts Yale Over Princeton, 71-66

Javier Duren. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Javier Duren. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Four Players Score In Double Figures

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Princeton seems to bring out the best in the Yale offense.

For the second time this season, the Bulldogs shot lights out in knocking off the Tigers 71-66 Friday at a raucous John J. Lee Amphitheater. Yale, which won 69-65 at Princeton in February, swept the season series from the Tigers for the first time since 2008.

In the two games against Princeton, Yale shot 46-of-80 (57.5 percent) from the field, including 16-of-27 (59.3 percent) from three-point range.

"We were able to get in a good rhythm," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball. "I thought our press helped and our zone [defense] helped. We were able to get some steals that we turned into easy baskets."

The Bulldogs (13-17, 7-6 Ivy) once again featured a balanced attack. Greg Kelley and Michael Grace each scored 13 points to lead the way. Javier Duren added 12 and Austin Morgan scored 11.

Led by Grace, Yale's bench outscored Princeton's reserves 21-5.

"I did not want the energy to drop or the productivity to drop when I entered the game," said Grace, who scored nine of his points in the first half. "I wanted the momentum to keep rolling."

T.J. Bray scored 17 points to lead Princeton. Ivy League Player of the Year candidate Ian Hummer was held to nine points, more than seven below his average, although he did contribute seven assists and five rebounds.

The loss dropped the Tigers (16-10, 9-3 Ivy) a half-game behind Harvard in the race for the Ivy title. The Crimson (10-3) edged Columbia on Friday. Harvard hosts Cornell on Saturday to end its regular season, while Princeton is at Brown on Saturday and at Penn on Tuesday.

The Bulldogs, who have won four of their last six games, can clinch sole possession of third place with a victory over Penn on Saturday.

Yale never trailed in Friday's game, but the outcome wasn't decided until the final seconds. Clinging to a three-point lead, Armani Cotton blocked Bray's three-point attempt, corralled the rebound, was fouled and hit both free throws with one second left to secure the victory.

The Bulldogs played their best half of the season in building a 36-24 lead at the intermission. Yale was 14-of-20 (70 percent) from the field.

Princeton, though, rallied in the second half. The Tigers were within one, 65-64, when Bray drained a three-pointer with 2:04 left.

Matt Townsend answered with a bucket for the Bulldogs. Princeton took two three-pointers that would have tied it, but missed. Denton Koon, though, grabbed an offensive rebound on the second one and was fouled with seven seconds left and hit both free throws.

On the ensuing in-bounds play, Yale got the ball to Grace, who was immediately fouled. He calmly hit both free throws to push the lead back to three.

About the only drawback to the night was Yale's victory helped arch-rival Harvard.

"Our goal entering the night was too just win, regardless of the implications," Grace said.

NOTES: Princeton also shot well from the field in the game. The Tigers were 23-of-44 (52.3 percent), including 14-of-22 in the second half… Yale was 16-of-20 from the free throw line… The Bulldogs outrebounded Princeton 21-18. Cotton led the way with six. He also added three assists… One of the highlights of the game was Nick Victor's driving dunk midway through the second half. Victor finished with five points in 13 minutes off the bench… The Bulldogs now turn their attention to Saturday's game with Penn. Yale knocked off the Quakers 66-59 last month and will be trying for its first season sweep of Penn since 1967. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m… Yale's three seniors – Morgan, Grace and Sam Martin will be recognized prior to the start.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity


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Watch the Nick Victor Dunk: