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Yale Moves On to CIT Championship Game with 75-62 Win at VMI

Yale's Javier Duren
Yale's Javier Duren

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Portions courtesy of Yale Sports Publicity

LEXINGTON, Va. -- Yale used a 11-1 run to close the first half to create the advantage needed to take a 75-62 victory over VMI and continue its magical postseason run to the Tournament (CIT) championship game.

Yale hits the road once again to face Murray State in the CIT championship game on Thursday, April 3. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on the CBS Sports Network. Murray State (22-11, 13-3 Ohio Valley Conference) cruised to a 98-75 victory over Pacific in the other semifinal.

The Bulldogs (19-13, 9-5 Ivy League) controlled the entire second half, stretching their lead to as many as 16 points before VMI pulled within six with just over four minutes remaining. Yale scored 11 of the final 15 points to capture the semifinal win and a chance to play for a postseason tournament title for the first time in program history.

Yale held VMI, the nation's top scoring team, nearly 30 points below its season average and before a boisterous crowd of 4,784 at Cameron Hall. The Bulldogs scored 30 points in the paint and dominated the boards, outrebounding the Keydets 45-27.

The Bulldogs have won three road games and beaten four teams that won at least 20 games during their CIT run.

"I looked out at the teams before the game, and we were bigger at every spot," said Yale head James Jones.

Still, Yale had to neutralize VMI's run-and-gun offense, which they did to perfection. The Keydets got very few easy baskets in transition.

"They are really, really quick, but we did a great job of controlling the tempo and getting the ball inside," said Javier Duren.

Duren, who had five inches on VMI's guards, led the way with 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Justin Sears added 15 points before leaving the game midway through the second half with an injury. Brandon Sherrod scored 13 points and Armani Cotton contributed 11.

Rodney Glasgow had 20 points, and D.J. Covington added 17 for VMI, which finishes the season with a 22-13 overall record.

Tuesday's game didn't start well for Yale. The Keydets led 8-2 after three minutes, but the Bulldogs outscored them 73-54 the rest of the way.

Yale shot 53.8 percent from the field in the second half and was 6-of-18 on three-pointers for the game.

The score was tied at 26 with four minutes left in the first half, but the Bulldogs used an 11-1 run to take a 37-27 lead at the intermission.

The lead grew to 16 early in the second half, but VMI made a run. Covington's layup pulled the Keydets within 64-58 with 5:30 left and had the raucous crowd in a frenzy. Duren, though, answered with a big jump shot, and VMI never got closer than seven the rest of the way.

"The atmosphere was terrific, but we did a great job of keeping our composure," Duren said.

The Bulldogs got contributions from a number of sources. Nick Victor had five points, including a big put back with less than two minutes to play, and added a game-high nine rebounds. Greg Kelley and Jesse Pritchard both made important three-pointers.

Yale will have little time to prepare for the championship game. The Bulldogs will spend much of Wednesday traveling to Kentucky.

"Our guys are used to it," Jones said of the quick turnaround. "It's a not a problem. We do it every week [in Ivy League play]."

Added Duren, "We're cherishing the moment. We've got to pull together for one more game. We will have six months to rest."