HANOVER, NEW HAMPSHIRE---Just hours before Friday's game, Yale Bulldogs' "star senior" Justin Sears was on twitter. He wasn't guaranteeing a victory or promoting his squad's contest, but instead responding to a Dartmouth Big Green fan that tweeted, "@Jussears5 ready to get dominated tonight? Dartmouth wins and this will end your chance at a conference title and NCAA bid."
And for the first 27 minutes, the young man looked as though he would be right. However, Yale did not lie down and accept defeat, but instead continued to come at Dartmouth before overwhelming them in order to stay undefeated in Ivy League play.
Dartmouth, despite falling behind quickly on a jumper by Sears, put together the first run of the game with seven consecutive points that sped them out to a 7-2 advantage.
Quickly answering, the Bulldogs' Anthony Dallier produced half of his ten points to rally his group and start what would become a theme for the first half: Dartmouth staying one step ahead of Yale.
Now you might be thinking, "How did Dallier's production make the previous theme valid?" Well, following the 9-7 score, the Big Green's "fab freshman" Evan Boudreaux scored a basket to move the edge back to three (11-8 DART).
Less than a minute later, almost the same sequence of events transpired, for Yale scored and then Boudreaux answered (13-9 DART). Thus, the Bulldogs had a very tough time pulling any closer to their opponent.
In fact, it wouldn't be until the 4:05 mark in the first half that Yale, with a Brandon Sherrod made layup, would come within one (24-23 DART). Though, a defensive breakdown or a turnover would keep them from tying or taking the lead prior to halftime (28-27 DART).
Having just as much success--if not more--in the second half, the Big Green continued to have their way through the shooting of Miles Wright as he scored the first five points of the new twenty (33-27 DART). Furthermore, the "stud sophomore" would supply three more of his fifteen points to hand his team their largest lead of the bout (41-32 DART). Was Dartmouth actually going to accomplish the unthinkable?
"Not so fast my friend!"
As if he was solely motivated by the tweet, Justin Sears contributed a deuce to avoid a double-figures deficit (41-34 DART). Moreover, Makai Mason canned a jumper to sprint the Bulldogs to a margin of five (41-36 DART).
Ensuing multiple minutes of trading baskets, Yale finally found themselves trailing only a possession prior to--who else--Justin Sears knotting the score at 50 while at the foul line. It was a new ball game.
Check that! It was Yale's ball game.
Realizing the score was essentially 0-0, the Bulldogs pounced on their first lead of the matchup with a 5-0 spurt that concluded at the 5:22 mark (57-52 YALE).
The Big Green, now trailing and needing answers, was able to force a turnover, resulting in an easy basket. 57-54 Yale!
Unfortunately though, the previous two would be the only points for almost a two minute span in which Dartmouth went scoreless.
Yet, that isn't even the worse part for Dartmouth.
During the home team's lull, the Bulldogs ran off seven straight, four of which came from Dallier, to experience a game-high ten-point advantage at the final media timeout.
While the Big Green were able to pull within six on a triple from Boudreaux (1:52 remaining in regulation), Dartmouth picked the worst time to reopen the freezer door, for they only made one more field goal the rest of the game.
So what did we learn today?
Don't kick a sleeping bulldog to hear it bark.
"Stud Sophomore" in the Building
When his freshman season ended, Yale's Makai Mason had been a key underclassman contributor for the Bulldogs as he logged 19 minutes per game while averaging 6.2 points. By no means a poor statline for his first collegiate campaign, right? Correct, BUT one must realize no one expected the 6'1" guard to make such a big stride in his sophomore season!
With him and Justin Sears making up arguably the best big man/guard duo in the Ivy League, Mason has been a true "stud sophomore," considering he is posting 15.5 points to go along with a team best 4 rebounds per contest. Tonight, was no exception. Although he was a tad inaccurate overall (6-of-16 shooting), Mason was very good and finished Friday with a season-high 25 points. It was his third conference game (out of seven) in which he netted 20+.
Also, putting up very great numbers was the "Man of the Night" Justin Sears. Not only did the senior end up silencing a troll, but he did it in style with a double-double of 21 points and 13 rebounds.
Now winners of 11 straight, 16-5 (7-0) Yale will continue to live out of their gym bag in route to a road meeting with Harvard on Saturday.
Newcomer of the Year...No Question
Because of certain requirements for GPA, transferring into one of the eight Ivy League schools is almost unheard of. Therefore, the Newcomer of the Year is normally awarded to a freshman. Look no further than Evan Boudreaux.
Boudreaux, a 6'8" double-double machine, is the only player within the conference to be a top three leader in points and rebounds per game. And he is only a freshman! This evening, matched against one of the best bigs in all of mid-major basketball (Sears), Boudreaux was an efficient 7-of-15 with 21 points and 10 rebounds, good enough for his seventh double-double of his career/season. Also, and most impressively, the youngster can shoot from outside and nailed two treys on the day.
7-14 (1-6) Dartmouth will attempt to break their five-game losing streak when hosting Brown on Saturday.