The Yale women’s basketball team has done a good job of containing its opponents’ star players this season. But this weekend, the Elis failed to stick to their game plan, a dereliction that cost the Elis one of their two games at the John J. Lee Amphitheater this weekend.
The Bulldogs (5-18, 2-8 Ivy) ended the weekend with a 76-56 loss to Pennsylvania (14-8, 8-1) Saturday, as Quakers forward Jewel Clark took over from the beginning. The Elis were unable to keep up with the Quakers’ pace after a draining 59-56 overtime victory against Princeton (6-8, 3-6) in which Tigers center Rebecca Brown scored 22 second-half points.
After losing so many close games this season, Yale players and coaches could still appreciate the strong finish against Princeton.
“[Against Princeton], being able to win an overtime game was huge for us,” Yale head coach Amy Backus said. “I thought our kids really battled tonight. Penn played almost a flawless game.”
Earlier this season, the Bulldogs lost by only two points 59-57 when they played the Ivy League’s top team at the Palestra. But in the rematch Saturday night, the Quakers quickly closed out the game in the second half.
Coming off a 29-point, 17-rebound performance against Brown Friday, Clark tallied another 23 points and 10 rebounds against the Elis. On Jan. 30, Yale’s defense had held Clark, the league’s second leading scorer, to just six points.
“[Clark] was light on her feet last night,” guard Julie Cohen ’04 said. “When [Penn is] running fastbreaks all the time, it makes it hard to guard Jewel Clark when she’s got the ball in the open court.”
The Bulldogs tried to slow down the game and not give in to Penn’s uptempo pace. On offense, they patiently swung the ball around the perimeter and looked for center Erica Davis ’07 inside. Davis finished with team-highs of 18 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes of play.
But the Elis totaled just 24 points in the second half and never came within nine points.
Unlike the Penn game, the victory over Princeton Friday night was neck-and-neck all the way through the last 10 minutes of regulation.
In the second half, the Bulldogs slowly let a 30-18 halftime lead slip away, as the Tigers went on an 11-0 run to bring the score to 36-35 with 11:38 to go.
The game went back and forth from there but seemed to finally side with Yale when forward Bonnie Smith ’04 hit two free throws to put the Bulldogs up 52-50 with 24 seconds to go.
Princeton wasted no time as Tigers forward Lauren Nestor drove hard at the cautious Elis defense and hit a short jumper in the paint to tie it back up.
On Yale’s final possession after calling timeout, Yale guard Morgan Richards ’05 missed a short pull-up, and Smith’s last-chance put-back missed off the rim. There appeared to be contact on both shots. Backus briefly argued with the official to no avail.
“In situations like that, we can’t expect the refs to make that call,” Cohen said.
With the score tied at 56-56 in overtime, the Bulldogs got the ball back and called timeout with 32 seconds to go.
Although it appeared that the Bulldogs would hold for the final shot, guard Brynn Gingras ’04 had a good look from 18 feet and knocked it down with 12 seconds left for a 58-56 advantage.
“We were just moving the ball,” Gingras said. “Julie [Cohen] did a great job driving to the basket and drawing my defender — I was already squared up to shoot and there was no reason not to take it.”
Princeton turned the ball over on the next play and fouled Gingras with under three seconds. Gingras, who finished with a team-high 15 points, made the first of two free throws. The Tigers got the rebound but had no timeouts and missed a half-court shot at the buzzer.
Cohen shot three-of-five from downtown, and combined with Gingras to outscore Princeton’s backcourt 27-5.
Although Brown finished with 28 points, Yale center Aubrey Smith ’04 came off the bench and held Princeton’s go-to-player to zero points in overtime.
“In all honesty, I never doubted we were going to win that game,” Cohen said. “We had a lot of close overtime games last year and didn’t come up with a win, and we’ve had a lot of close games this year, so it was a great win for us.”