The Yale Bulldogs used a big second half from junior Javier Duren, who had 26 of his 33 points in the frame, to come back and defeat their Ivy League brethren Columbia Lions 72-69 in the quarterfinals In the CollegeInsider.com Tournament at Levien Gymnasium, on the campus of Columbia University.
Bulldogs head coach James Jones challenged the team at the half, and Duren; who hit seven foul shots down the stretch to seal the game, accepted the challenge to lead his team when they needed him.
“Coach challenged us," Duren said. "We weren’t playing to the best of our abilities. I took that to heart, I thought I played pretty hard but there is always more that you can do. I wanted to help the team the best way I can. I started being aggressive and made the right decisions and then my shots started falling.”
Yale allowed themselves to get back in the game when they sharpened their defense and opened the second half on a 12-0 run to take a 37-34 advantage. The Bulldogs then regained a 68-63 lead with 22 seconds left in regulation, but Maodo Lo; who had 22 points, and Steve Frankoski were able to hit big threes for Columbia to keep the Bulldogs' lead at one possession, but Duren was able to advance his team to the semifinals by icing the game at the foul line.
Jones made the correct adjustments in the locker room, and it allowed his team to take control of the game after a first half in which he saw things getting away from the team.
“(In the first half) I felt it slipping through our hands," the coach said. "There were a couple times, I called timeout for us to move the basketball and two passes later the next guy was talking a shot. That’s not my understanding of moving the basketball. So I told the team I need to be a better coach. To be able to get them to understand, without having to yell at them, that this is the way basketball needs to be played. When we do that we can actually be pretty good.”
After a slow offensive start to the game, the Lions went on an 8-0 rally, led by two three-pointers from Alex Rosenberg, who had 18 points, to go up 12-4. Yale was later able to go on an 8-0 spurt of their own to tie the game at 18. The Lions, who made eight threes and shot 53.3 percent from beyond the arc, used their outside marksmanship to outscore Yale 15-6 and take a 34-25 lead into the intermission.
Jones saw an adjustment in his team’s effort in the second half that helped them win.
“I think that there were a lot of shots that were uncontested," he said. "It is one of those things we were hoping they miss instead of making them miss. In the second half, they made a bunch late that I thought were well contested. As a coach, you look at what they shot in the first half, which I thought was 50 percent. They can’t shoot that way in the second half. For us to be able to win a game and have them make 15 threes and shoot 54 percent that just shows how good we think we could be.”