Women’s basketball takes on Ivy League’s top two

Playing the best teams in the league on back-to-back nights is not an easy task, but it will be especially hard for the women’s basketball team this weekend.

The Elis (5-18, 2-8 Ivy) host Harvard (15-7, 7-2) and Dartmouth (13-8, 9-0) this Friday and Saturday at the John J. Lee Amphitheater just days after learning that head coach Amy Backus will retire after this season. The six-year coach announced her retirement Wednesday and has accepted a position as a varsity sports administrator with Yale Athletics.

While still supportive of their coach’s decision, the Bulldogs know that the rest of the season will not be the same knowing Backus is stepping down.

“It came as a surprise to us, but she is really excited about getting this new position, so we’re all excited for her,” center Erica Davis ’07 said. “The fact that she’s leaving gives us more of an incentive to finish stronger than we ever have.”

After pulling off a thrilling 74-64 overtime win over the University of Pennsylvania last Saturday, the Elis hope to build on the excitement in their final two home games of the season.

Davis scored 23 points and 12 rebounds against the Quakers, raising her season average to 12.3 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game. Captain Morgan Richards ’05 added another 17 points against Penn and is still leading her squad in the conference season, averaging 11.6 points per Ivy game.

Point guard Tory Mauseth ’05 is still playing strong and has been pushing her Yale career three-pointer record, now at 161, higher and higher with each game.

The Bulldogs will put their strength to the test on Friday against the Crimson, the team ranked second in the Ivies.

In their last encounter the Cantabs proved to be too much for the Elis to handle and ran away with a decisive 90-55 victory. Davis led the Bulldogs that night with 16 points, while forward Sara McCollum ’08 set a new career high with 13 points.

Harvard leading scorers Jessica Holsey and Reka Cserny caused some serious damage against the Elis, scoring 21 and 16 points, respectively. A lack of communication and 31 Yale turnovers made the game extremely one-sided for the Crimson, but the Bulldogs are anticipating the chance to redeem themselves this Friday night.

“The last time we played Harvard we did not play to our full potential,” Mauseth said. “This time we all want to go out there and give it our best and make it more of a game.”

The following night, the Elis will host the Big Green, the Ivy League’s current leader.

The Bulldogs have been concentrating more on the Crimson, but are still keeping in mind what kind of trouble the Big Green can cause.

In their most recent meeting, Dartmouth pulled away in the second half for the 59-39 win over the Elis. Big Green forward Ashley Taylor scored 19 points in the win while Yale’s leading scorer that night was Richards with eight points.

The Bulldogs are still confident they can come away with a win Saturday night.

“Dartmouth is definitely a beatable team,” Yale guard Chinenye Okafor ’07 said. “The last time we played them we stayed with them in the first half; we just need that same determination for both halves the next time we play them.”

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