Bulldogs get their first victory, but lose five

The women’s basketball team finally got its first win of the season. Unfortunately, it came with something much more familiar: more losses.

The Elis (1-11) won their first game of the season over winter break, a 66-61 win over Lehigh (6-8), marking the team’s first win during new head coach Chris Gobrecht’s tenure. But the Bulldogs also dropped five more games over the holidays, putting them in double-digit losses already on the 2005-06 campaign. Despite a 1-5 record over the break, players said that they felt the team made some solid improvements and continued moving in the right direction.

The Elis began the break with four games on the road. The team traveled to Dover for their first contest, a 58-48 loss to Delaware State (6-4). Captain Chinenye Okafor ’07 had a strong all-around performance, tallying 13 points and seven rebounds in 31 minutes of play. The Bulldogs were within striking distance for much of the game, but the Hornets held them off in the final minutes to deny them the win.

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the break would get tougher before it got easier. The Elis traveled to the nation’s capital to take on George Washington (9-4) and were outplayed from the beginning. The Colonials opened the game by hitting 11 of their first 12 shots on their way to a 20-4 lead. Yale scored only four field goals in the first half and George Washington was able to capitalize on the Bulldogs’ mistakes.

Yale’s inability to take care of the ball resulted in George Washington scoring 34 points off turnovers and 18 fast break points. The Colonials went on to win 88-37, improving their record to 6-3, while handing the Bulldogs their 8th straight loss.

Gobrecht said limiting turnovers is an area that Yale must continue to improve upon.

“We don’t have enough possessions to work with and we can’t afford to waste the ones that we do have,” Gobrecht said. “We’re becoming a good half-court defensive team, but turning the ball over allows teams to score a lot of easy points on us.”

After the loss to George Washington, Yale traveled to Charlottesville to participate in the Marriot Cavalier Classic. The Elis played host Virginia (12-2) in the first round, and continued to experience turnover woes. The Cavaliers’ tenacious defense forced 35 Bulldog turnovers leading to 48 points. Virginia dominated the inside, scoring 62 points in the paint, and cruised to a 91-42 victory.

Yale moved on to face Boston University (8-4) in the consolation game of the tournament. A dismal first-half shooting performance, in which the Bulldogs shot less than 10% from the field, left them down 30-10 at the end of the first stanza. But the Elis came back with a vengeance in the second half, opening with a 9-1 run and getting to within 12 points. Unfortunately the rally came up short, and the Elis came up on the wrong side of a 53-41 decision. Although the team could not pull out the win, the second half built considerable momentum that the Bulldogs carried into their next game.

Guard Kaitlyn Lillemoe ’09, who ended the game with eight points, said despite the loss, the way the team played in the second half against Boston University fueled their win against Lehigh.

“We played really well and showed a lot of fight in the second half,” Lillemoe said. “It gave us something to build on for our next game.”

The Bulldogs finally returned home for their first home game in over two weeks to face the Lehigh Mountain Hawks. A balanced scoring attack, which included four Elis in double-digits, allowed Yale to capture its first win of the season. Jamie Van Horne ’09 led the Bulldogs with 17 points on 5-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Yale led comfortably for most of the second half, but Lehigh cut the lead to six before a Van Horne three put the Bulldogs out of reach for the rest of the game. Yale went on the win, 66-61.

Center Sarah Zoubek ’08 said the key to the Bulldogs’ victory was getting off to a good start.

“A lot of times we come out sluggish at the start and it takes us a while to get into the game,” Zoubek said. “Against Lehigh we came out strong right from the start and didn’t have to battle our way back like we usually do.”

The Bulldogs returned to the road once again for their final game of the break against Quinnipiac. Yale was not able to carry the momentum of its previous win into this game, allowing the Bobcats to strike early and build a 15-point first half lead. The Elis fought hard to stay in the game, but could not overcome the deficit and lost, 62-47, falling to 1-11 on the year.

The Bulldogs have one more game before the start of the Ivy League season, against Fordham at home on Tuesday.

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