Yale 69, Quinnipiac 68 (CIT)

No one heard whether or not Justin Sears called his shot, so it’s a good thing they don’t play by playground rules at Yale.

With his team trailing by two and the season on the line, the sophomore forward stepped behind the 3-point line and banked the winning shot off the glass and through the net with less than a second remaining.  The clutch bucket lifted Yale to a 69-68 victory over Quinnipiac in the opening round of the CollegeInsider.com tournament.

“I caught it, faced up and saw that [Ousmane] Drame was in help side,” Sears said of his game-winner.  “I didn’t see anyone else, so I said ‘Go for the win, three seconds left.’ I threw it up and the gods were looking down upon me and it went in.”

There very well may have been divine intervention at hand in the Payne Whitney Gym.  Sears’ game-winner was just his fourth career make from behind the arc.

“That’s the next phase of Justin’s progression, is becoming a 3-point shooter,” Yale head coach James Jones said.  “We’ve got two more years to work with him.  He’s going to go hard over the summer and become a threat out there shooting the three.”

The lead changed hands 11 times throughout the evening as neither team could open up a lead.  Quinnipiac held the largest lead of the game at six with 3:30 left in the game, but Yale got back-to-back 3-pointers from Jack Montague and Javier Duren to tie the game at 63.  Three of Quinnipiac’s 14 turnovers came down the stretch, including a critical giveaway by Kasim Chandler with 19 seconds remaining which set the stage for Sears’ heroics.

“I’m disappointed in the number of mental mistakes we made throughout the game,” Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore said.  “At times we looked physically tired.  I’ve lost a lot of faith in our bench in the last two or three weeks as we’ve needed them with the slew of injuries and I haven’t liked the results.  I put a lot of pressure on six guys to be perfect, and we weren’t in physical enough shape to be in mentally great shape.”

The “War for Whitney Ave.,” as this local rivalry has come to be known, has traditionally been played on the ice, but made its way to the hardwood Wednesday.  Yale knocked off Quinnipiac in the NCAA Ice Hockey national championship game last April, but the Bobcats returned the favor this past weekend by eliminating the Bulldogs from contention this season.  For Sears, the rivalry on the ice played into his motivation on the court.

“I had a little discussion with a few of the [hockey] players.” Sears said.  “Just looking at the CIT teams, I said ‘We’re probably going to play Quinnipiac, so we’ll try to get them back.’”

For Quinnipiac, the loss brings an end to a season that spiraled out of control near the end.  After riding a seven-game win streak through February, the Bobcats lost four of their final five to end the year.  It also ends yet another short postseason stint.  Quinnipiac has appeared in the NIT, CIT, or CBI in four of the last five years, but has yet to win a game in any tournament.

“It’s very frustrating,” Moore said.  “We didn’t know how to handle it the first year, and I think for the next two years that set a poor example as to how you embrace postseason play after you’ve been eliminated from the NCAA tournament.”

Quinnipiac was led by Evan Conti, who knocked down three shots from behind the arc en route to a season-high 17 points.  Drame finished with a double-double on 12 points and 15 rebounds while Shaq Shannon matched Drame’s point total.  Chandler rounded out the Bobcats’ scoring with 11 off the bench.

Sears played the hero for Yale, but it was Duren who led the Bulldogs in scoring.  The junior guard went 7-for-11 from the field on his way to 17 points.  Matt Townsend was also an efficient 5-for-7 from the field as he ended up with 12 points.  Sears ended up with 11 points for the game while also pulling down eight rebounds and handing out five assists.  Montague knocked down three of his four shots from behind the arc to boost the Bulldogs off the bench, ending the night with nine points.

Vincent Simone covers Quinnipiac and the MAAC for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.

2 thoughts on “Yale 69, Quinnipiac 68 (CIT)

  1. Are you guys on vacation. No mention of RMU’s upset win over St.Johns and Karvel Anderson going off for 38 points. Come on maaaaan. You guys are better than that.

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    1. I’ll take the blame for this one. We had a post we were putting together about Mount St. Mary’s and Robert Morris, but it didn’t get finished. We’ll certainly have more coverage coming shortly though. Been enjoying the tournament.

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