With sour tastes still lingering from losses to Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania two weekends ago, the women’s basketball team heads south this weekend with revenge on its mind.
After dropping a 71-65 overtime decision to Penn (11-11, 5-4 Ivy), the Bulldogs overcame a 17-point halftime deficit the following evening against the Tigers (8-15, 3-6) only to fall 94-92 in triple-overtime.
The Elis (5-18, 2-8) are assured of a losing league record, but armed with the momentum of a victory against Columbia Saturday night, they are looking to make waves this weekend.
“We’re going into the weekend knowing we definitely don’t want to feel the way we felt after the last weekend,” said coach Amy Backus, who is still sitting on 199 career victories.
Yale travels to Princeton tonight before heading to Penn tomorrow evening.
For the Bulldogs to avoid repeating their first encounters with the killer P’s, they will have to avoid falling into a season-long pattern of getting off to a terrible start. The Bulldogs employed a new starting lineup against Columbia, choosing to bring their top five scorers off the bench and go with a defense-oriented squad. The strategy worked as the Bulldogs jumped out to an 11-point halftime lead.
As for reserve productivity, the Eli bench outscored the Lion bench 53-24.
“The big thing is that with a small squad and the number of injuries we’ve had, we haven’t had enough competition in practice for playing time,” Backus said. “Healthy competition is a good thing. It’s not necessarily that people have become complacent, but there’s always an increased awareness of how you’re doing when there is increased competition. Maybe it sparked a few people and got them thinking that maybe they need to step it up a bit.”
Point guard Tory Mauseth ’05, who came off the bench and contributed seven points, four assists and four steals, said that the need for a good beginning to the game takes precedence over selfish interests.
“We need to start off strong, and the new lineup helped jump-start us,” Mauseth said. “What we had been doing hadn’t been working.”
But in this surreal season, nothing can be counted upon to assuredly “work” for the Elis. With the plethora of injuries that has plagued the team this year, certain reserves have been asked to step up and play key minutes. Forward Noel Beagle ’04 was one of the bench players who filled the void with performances such as her 13-minute, 10-rebound, 7-point showing against Penn. But that ended this week when Beagle went down with a torn MCL during practice and became merely the latest member of the team to fall prey to injury.
“Noel was a great boost off the bench, she hustled and got rebounds,” said an exasperated Backus. “It’s been unbelievable. I’ve never experienced a season with so many ridiculous, strange injuries.”
Nonetheless, the Bulldogs are still focused on the here-and-now, trying to go into the off-season with a stretch run upon which they can build. The future may be more appealing, but no one has thrown in the towel.
“We’re still focusing on the games we have to play,” Backus said. “It’s unrealistic to think that the staff isn’t looking down the road, and certainly we’ve talked about that. But in terms of on the court, we’re not sacrificing somebody’s playing time to play a younger player.”
This season, Backus hasn’t really had the luxury of mixing and matching players as injuries have dictated her lineups for the most part. On the bright side, starting point guard Brynn Gingras ’04 may return for the final weekend of the season. However, with the injury to Beagle, Backus’ rotation will again be missing a key contributor and a player who helped them avoid the early-game lapses they desperately must avoid to be victorious this weekend.