We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Yale is next by request of Ivy Player of the Year Justin Sears.
Yale won its first ever postseason game on March 14, 2002. It took a while, but the payoff was sweet.
Yale earned a NIT appearance three years removed from a 4-22 campaign in 1998-99 by virtue of its share of the Ivy title (part of our No. 9 moment). The Elis drew a road matchup with favored Rutgers at the Louis Brown Athletic Center (better known as the RAC), a notoriously difficult place for visitors to play where the Scarlet Knights were 15-1 prior to facing Yale.
Thanks to a 25-point contribution from Yale’s bench, that record became 15-2. Freshman Edwin Draughan rose to the occasion, scoring 13 of his team-high 15 points in the second half. Draughan also stole a Rutgers inbound pass with four seconds remaining to secure the historic victory.
According to the Yale Daily News, Rutgers coach Gary Waters said after the game that his team may have taken the Bulldogs lightly. Waters said when he told one of his players in practice this week to take this game seriously, he responded, “Coach, it’s Yale.” Big mistake.
Yale was eliminated from the NIT by Tennessee Tech five days later, 80-61. Regardless, the 2001-02 Elis will go down as one of the most successful, exciting teams in school history.