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Duke holds off furious comeback attempt by Yale

Yale never said quit against the Duke Blue Devils, and it almost turned into the upset all the nation was rooting for.

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Just before 4:30 p.m. Eastern, the nation fell back in love with the Yale Bulldogs.  James Jones' Ivy League champs were in the middle of a ferocious run after being down as much as 27 points in the first half.  Things hit a crescendo with 41 seconds left when Justin Sears tipped in a bucket to cut Duke's lead to just three.

The one-shot margin would be as close as the Bulldogs got as Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram converted key free throws and Makai Mason rushed a pair of ill-advised 3-pointers down the stretch. Yale's season would end with a 71-64 loss to the fourth-seeded Blue Devils.

Yale tried everything: solid basketball, great coaching, overly large sweaters, magical Whiffenpoof powers, and even a double bird flipping Santa.  In the end, nothing worked.

Brandon Sherrod was the star for the Bulldogs today posting 22 points and seven rebounds. Justin Sears also was clutch down the stretch for Jones and finished with a double-double, 12 points and 11 rebounds. Mason followed up his incredible performance against Baylor with 2-for-12 shooting affair, finishing with eight points, but he was a big part of Yale's comeback with seven assists.

Yale finishes the year 23-7 and will be the last "pure" Ivy League champion to many as the conference moves to a four-team tournament next March. Jones will lose three starters in Sherrod, Sears, and Nick Victor but should still be competitive with Mason back for his junior year.

While today's loss was certainly a disappointment, this season was truly a historic one for the Bulldogs and one Yale fans will remember forever.

Duke now moves onto the Sweet 16 in Anaheim to take on the winner of Sunday's St. Joseph's-Oregon game.