Before the women’s basketball team’s game against Princeton Friday night, one Yale player gave another a broom, trying to spur her team on to its first Ivy weekend sweep of the season.
The gesture worked, as the Bulldogs defeated Princeton (9-15, 3-8 Ivy), 83-77, and the University of Pennsylvania (10-14, 6-5 Ivy) Saturday, 78-69. With the two victories in their final homestand of the season, the Elis improve to 7-5 in the Ivy League and increase their chances for a top-three finish in the Ancient Eight.
The scores of both games were deceptively close. The Bulldogs managed to take commanding leads against the two teams, going up by as many as 23 against the Tigers and 21 against the Quakers. But second-half comeback attempts forced Yale to work for its victories.
Against Penn, the Elis jumped out to an early lead behind a 16-point first half from Helene Schutrumpf ’03. Schutrumpf went 7 of 8 from the field in the opening 20 minutes, aggressively driving to the basket and taking the ball coast-to-coast on several occasions.
“I hit a couple of threes, and after that they played me pretty tightly, so it was easy to get around the players,” said Schutrumpf, who finished the game with a team-high 19 points.
In the second half, the Quakers came storming back, cutting the Yale lead to 5 with 1:08 to play. Jewel Clark led the way for Penn, scoring a game-high 22 points. But the Bulldogs sealed the victory at the charity stripe, going 7 of 10 from the line in the final minute.
“The last two years up here Yale has jumped all over us in the first half,” Penn head coach Kelly Greenberg said. “Last year, we were able to pull it out. This year, we didn’t.”
It was a similar story Friday night against Princeton. Yale went into halftime 17 points ahead, only to watch the lead dwindle to 2 with 4:21 to play. This time, it was back-to-back 3-pointers from Bonnie Smith ’04 and Christina Phillips ’04 that allowed the Bulldogs to pull away once again.
Princeton’s Allison Cahill led all scorers with 21 points, while Phillips scored a team- and career-high 18 points. Phillips also tallied 18 points against Penn.
The weekend also marked the last time the team’s three seniors would don a Yale uniform in front of a home crowd. Captain Meg Simpson ’02, Caitlin Bair ’02 and Kate Merker ’02 were honored in a pre-game ceremony Saturday night.
Simpson had a monster weekend in her Eli farewell, scoring a double-double against Princeton and grabbing 13 boards against Penn. Simpson will end her career in the exclusive 500 rebound and 500 points club and is on pace to finish fourth in single-season rebounding in team history.
“Meg has really anchored this team,” head coach Amy Backus said. “She is probably the most consistent player we have.”
Yale now travels up to Cambridge and Hanover, N.H., for its final weekend of the season, taking on Harvard Friday and Dartmouth Saturday. As for the broom, after the win over Penn, the jubilant Bulldogs made Backus ride it around the locker room.