Bulldogs Hang Tough With No. 9 Florida

Bulldogs Hang Tough With No. 9 Florida

Poor Start To Second Half Dooms Yale In 79-58 Loss

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Yale stayed with ninth-ranked Florida for much of Sunday's game at the sold John J. Lee Amphitheater. All it took, though, was a brief lapse from the Bulldogs for the Gators to seize control.

Florida scored the final nine points of the first half and then started the second half with a 12-0 run en route to a 79-58 victory before an enthusiastic crowd of 2,532.

The Gators (10-2) certainly showed the large gathering why they are legitimate national title contenders.

Kenny Boynton was 8-of-10 from three-point range and finished with a game-high 28 points to lead Florida. Will Yeguete added 14 points and Mike Rosario scored 13.

The Gators shot 65.4 percent (17-of-26) from the field in the second half.

Justin Sears paced Yale with 15 points, Javier Duren scored 14 and Armani Cotton contributed 12.

"It was a great experience," said Duren, who was 5-of-8 from the field. "There are a lot of positives for us to take from this and learn from. We didn't back down. We just made a couple of mistakes."

The Bulldogs (5-11) trailed by only one, 21-20, with 5:28 left in the first half, and after the Gators quick start to the second half, Yale stayed even with them over the final 18 minutes.

The Bulldogs shot 50 percent (12-of-24) from the field in the second half and were only outrebounded by the bigger Gators 29-24 in the game.

"Take out four minutes and we were right there," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball.

Sears, a freshman, gave the Yale fans a glimpse of his potential. He was 7-of-11 from the field and added four steals in 22 minutes.

"Justin is really long and athletic," Jones said. "He does a good job of finishing at the rim."

The game capped a difficult stretch for the Bulldogs, who returned from a grueling trip to Nevada, Saint Mary's and Iowa State on Wednesday and then won at Holy Cross on Friday.

"We're better now than we were a month ago, and hopefully in a month, we'll be better than we are now," Jones said.

Long-time Florida coach Billy Donovan welcomed the opportunity to bring his team to the Northeast and play at Yale.

"The school has an unbelievable tradition," he said. "There's a lot of nostalgia in the building. It has a gothic feel. It's a special place to play basketball."

Donovan also was impressed with Yale.

"James has built a heck of a program," he said.

NOTES: The Gators outscored the Bulldogs 40-26 in the paint… Cotton had a team-high five rebounds… Yale committed 16 turnovers, and four came in the first two minutes of the second half when Florida was pressing… The Gators were the first nationally ranked non-Ivy League team to play in Lee Amphitheater since North Carolina, which was ranked 10th at the time, visited in 1974. Harvard was ranked 23rd last year and Princeton was ranked 15th in 1998… The Bulldogs are off until next Saturday when they host Oberlin at 2 p.m… Ivy League play starts Jan. 19 at Brown.

Justin Sears photo courtesy of Dave Silverman
Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity