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Men's Cagers Muzzle Bulldogs as Hill Comes to the Rescue

By Eric F. Brown, Special to The Crimson

NEW HAVEN, Conn.--Throughout the second half of last night's game, the Harvard men's basketball team was looking for a big play. Finally, sophomore Tim Hill made one.

With 2:12 left to play, the shot clock winding down and Harvard clinging to a one-point lead over Yale, Hill took a pass from senior Chris Grancio and quickly drove to the basket. He then drew a foul from Bulldog Emerson Whitley--his fifth--and converted on the basket and the ensuing free throw.

Yale would not score for the rest of the game, and Harvard won by a 62-53 margin.

"We were doing a pullback dribble. I passed the ball to [Grancio], and wanted to go out on a flare," said Hill, who led the Crimson with 14 points and five assists. "My defender started to jump by the screen, so I drove in, and Chris made a good pass. It was kind of an instinctive play."

It also killed the Bulldogs. Whitley was the team's second-leading scorer for the season, and Yale's leading scorer, Dan Onkonkwo, had already fouled out of the game. Now Yale had only one player on the court that had double figures in points (Gabe Hunterton).

The Crimson scored its remaining points on free throws, hitting five out of six in the game's last minute and 13 out of 15 in the game.

Even though the game meant nothing in the Ivy League title race, it was very important for Harvard's pride. The team is currently tied for second place in the Ivies with Dartmouth (who beat Brown last night, 66-55), and its record of 16-9, 9-4 Ivy is its highest win total since 1980-81. A win over Brown tonight, and Harvard will have its most wins since the '40s.

Still, it was not supposed to be this close. Harvard owned a double-digit lead for much of the first half last night, but a lightning-fast Yale comeback tied the game at 43 with 11:49 left to play. During that eight-minute stretch, the Crimson scored only four points.

"Honestly, I thought that Yale played with great intensity," Harvard coach Frank Sullivan said. "Defensively in the second half, they turned it up a notch and pressed on the perimeter."

As a result, the Crimson had trouble getting passes inside to Grancio and senior forward Kyle Snowden, the team's leading scorer on the season. Snowden had three points and Grancio zero in the second half, and on back-to-back possessions, each was called for a charge.

"We had a difficult time getting the ball inside," Snowden said. "They got in to the bonus really early [with 13:54 left in the game], and it sort of got us back on our heels."

Yale tied the game again at 46 apiece but was never able to take a lead. Hill hit a 17-footer and sophomore Bill Ewing picked up a loose ball for a dunk, putting Harvard up by four with 10 minutes left.

The first half was far different. Harvard captain Dave Demian led all scorers with 10 points, bolstered by a two-for-three mark for three-pointers, and the Crimson went on a 13-2 run to go up by 12 points with a little more than four minutes to go in the half.

Junior Mike Scott then hit a basket to open the second half, but Harvard did not score again until Snowden hit a layup six minutes later.

Yale fell to 10-15 overall and 4-10 in the Ivy League. Harvard travels to Brown tomorrow night for a 7:30 p.m. game, its last of the season.

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