Courtesy of Yale Sports Publicity
MURRAY, Ky. -- Yale's glorious run in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT) ended just shy of a championship.
Cameron Payne scored 24 points, grabbed seven rebounds and handed out six assists to lead Murray State to a 65-57 victory over the Bulldogs before an enthusiastic crowd of 4,467 at the CFSB Center. Payne was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
Javier Duren paced Yale with 18 points, five rebounds and five assists. The Bulldogs were without leading scorer Justin Sears, who suffered an injury in the semifinal victory over VMI.
"It was a great effort," said Yale head coach James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball. "We battled hard for 40 minutes without our best player. We just couldn't get over the hump. Murray State is a very good basketball team."
Yale dominated on the boards, outrebounding the Racers 52-40. The Bulldogs grabbed 25 offensive rebounds, but only converted them into 14 second-chance points. Yale shot just 26 percent (20-of-77) from the field in the game.
Nevertheless, the tournament capped what was a very successful season for the Bulldogs, who finished with a 19-14 overall record. After opening the tournament with a home victory over Quinnipiac, the Bulldogs won three straight road games over teams with at least 20 wins to reach the championship game.
"It was a great experience for our guys," Jones said. "To overcome all the adversity we faced and have a chance to win the championship says a lot about our players. There are a lot of positives to take into next year."
Yale's top eight scorers all will return next year.
Following Tuesday's win over VMI, Yale had a long travel day on Wednesday to get to Murray that included two flights and two 2.5-hour bus rides.
Perhaps that contributed to the Bulldogs' poor field goal percentage. Murray State's defense also was a factor as the Racers blocked a season-high 14 shots.
Still, Yale stayed right with Murray State for much of the game. Jack Montague's jumper in the lane pulled the Bulldogs within one, 46-45, with 7:42 remaining. The Racers, though, scored the next nine points.
Yale made one more run, pulling within five on a Duren three-pointer, but could get no closer.
"We had a lot of chances," Jones said. "With the road we had to travel to get here, it would have been monumental for us if we could have got this done. It was just a little too much."
Brandon Sherrod (12 rebounds) and Matt Townsend (10) did much of Yale's damage on the glass. Armani Cotton contributed nine points, and Montague finished with eight.
Jarvis Williams was the only other Murray State player to finish in double figures. He scored 16 points.
The Racers, who end the season with a 23-11 overall record, came into the championship game averaging 83.8 points in their previous four tournament games.
Murray State played its last four tournament games at home and has now won 15 straight games at the CFSB Center.
NOTES: Duren and Sears were named to the all-tournament team. Duren averaged 20.0 points in the five games, while Sears averaged 15.3 points… It was the final game for seniors Jesse Pritchard and Isaiah Salafia. Jeremiah Kreisberg also is a senior but missed the season with an injury… The Bulldogs are tentatively scheduled to open the 2014-15 season against Quinnipiac in the Connecticut 6 Classic.