Junior guard Edwin Draughan brought Yale back, scoring 17 second-half points and dishing out four assists after the break as the Bulldogs took a four-point lead after trailing by 10.
But, in the end, it wasn’t the pair—who are two of the better guards in the Ivy League—that made the difference in Harvard’s 78-71 win. It was junior center Graham Beatty.
Beatty struggled in the first half, picking up two quick fouls in the game’s opening 2:18 that limited him to just four minutes of action in the half.
But he made his presence felt right from the first possession of the second half, pulling down two offensive rebounds and converting a put-back to extend the Crimson lead to seven.
Beatty sat down just over seven minutes into the half with Harvard ahead by four and watched as Yale took a one-point lead in under 45 seconds.
During his next trip to the bench, he saw the Bulldogs extend that advantage to four, but he returned with 8:21 to play and sank two free throws to cut the Crimson deficit in half.
He then scored five points—including a reverse layup to erase the Bulldogs’ last lead with 4:40 to play—in the last five minutes of the game as Harvard fought to hold off Yale.
“He’s really improved around the basket,” Harvard coach Frank Sullivan said. “He’s using both hands, becoming a little bit more of a force. I thought there were some situations where he could have even got the ball more tonight, but I think his confidence is really starting to show in the low-post area.”
All of Beatty’s career-high 11 points came in the second half.
“Graham was able to get off because we didn’t cover down on weak-side help,” Yale coach James Jones said. “They got dribble penetration on the strong side. His man on the weak side came over to help out, stop penetration, and we’re supposed to get a cover-down by our guards, and the guards were not there.”
Beatty also helped control Bulldog center Dominick Martin. The Crimson held Yale’s leading scorer and rebounder entering the contest to just six points and three boards.
Harvard, then, could have run away with the game if it weren’t for Draughan.
Draughan didn’t score—or even shoot—until he hit a jumper 3:46 before halftime and went into the locker room with just four points, but he began to take over soon after halftime and finished with 21 points on 8-for-15 shooting and six assists.
“We asked Edwin at halftime to be a leader and be one of the best players on the floor—which he is—and he stepped up and he made some plays,” Jones said.
After Beatty’s first layup and a three-pointer by junior captain and small forward Jason Norman doubled the Crimson’s halftime advantage to 10 just 47 seconds into the second half, Draughan assisted on an Alex Gamboa three to halt Harvard’s mini-run.