Yale and Hartford have met eight times prior to today's game. All games were decided by nine points or less, with five being by five points or less. Saturday's game was no exception as the Hawks dropped their first home game 54-49.
It was a rough game for the Hawks. Still without one of their taller men, Nate Sikma, due to injury, and with big man Yasin Kolo out for the game, Hartford was down two people they could have really used. Yale boasts a tall team with its shortest player at 6-0, their average height about 6-6 and their top scorer of the game coming in at 6-8.
While Hartford has the talent to compete with the Bulldogs, their height really made a difference. I watched as Justin Graham went in for a layup, only to be knocked away by a blue jersey. He just wasn't tall enough to go head to head.
Hartford was up by three at the half, giving fans and players some hope that their losing streak would finally come to an end. Both teams played impressive defense, with Hartford hitting only 33 percent of its shots while Yale only made 29 percent. It was a low scoring game, with the Hawks only pulling in one point more than their show down against Louisville.
While the Hawks improved significantly from their last time out, the daunting record of now 2-6 -- having dropped their last 4 -- seems to really be hitting them. "We're not as confident as we once were a month ago," said coach John Gallagher.
Most of the team was around for the disastrous 0-13 start a few years ago, and seeing those losses pile up, can really do some damage.
"This was a tough loss," Mark Nwakamma said. "We can't lose and then lose our confidence."
But Gallagher has high hopes for his team. The intense schedule he put together is helping them improve for conference time, even if that means a few more losses in the nonconference season. "I'm concerned about being a top two, top three team in the America East." he said, "I need to get this team to an NCAA tournament."