Elis continue to struggle, this time with mental lapses

It hasn’t been an easy season for the Yale women’s basketball team, and last night’s game against Fordham was no exception.

In the past, turnovers and a low field-goal percentage have plagued the team. But this time, a lack of mental strength and inconsistency were added to the mix. Despite a close run at victory during the second half, the Bulldogs could not maintain the momentum to steal the game away. Team members said they blamed their inability to focus and play consistently for all forty minutes of the game as the cause for their newest letdown.

“We had a lapse and went into a daze,” forward Emily St. Jean ’09 said of the second-half breakdown. “We can’t afford to lose our focus for even just one play on the floor.”

The first half ended with the Rams ahead by only one point, 23-22. But it was Fordham who came out of the locker room strong and set the tone for the beginning of the second half. During a nearly five-minute scoring drought for the Bulldogs, the Rams extended their lead to six points.

But enough was enough for the Elis. After a foul to center Erica Davis ’07 was converted to their first point of the half, the Elis finally decided to take control of the game.

Captain and forward Chinenye Okafor ’07 said the team wanted to change the momentum of the game, and realized they had to approach their opponent with a new strategy.

“Whatever wasn’t working wasn’t working, so you have to change it up,” she said. “We just came out more determined to make a stop, to make a change.

With revived energy, the Bulldogs countered the Rams with a 7-0 run, capped by a three pointer from guard Jamie Van Horne ’09. With 7:44 left, the Bulldogs finally tied the game at 39 and hope for victory had seemingly electrified the women in blue.

But the run did not last long enough. When a quick foul by the Bulldogs was converted into a Fordham lead, the team’s resilience was crushed. The Rams capitalized on the faltering Bulldogs, at one point leading by 10 points.

“We let ourselves get too far behind and lost our momentum,” Davis said. “When we let up, we let up in every statistic.”

Okafor said a lapse in mental stamina led to breakdowns in the team’s physical stamina as well.

“We would have just scored,” she said. “And then we took two seconds off to breathe and they would score again. Our skill is there, but we have to use enough mental toughness and use it for 40 minutes.”

She also said that if the Bulldogs had come out fiercely from the beginning, the outcome would have been much different.

“If you take them down hard once, they’ll think twice again when they go up for the second time,” she said. “They took four open lay-ups.”

Unfortunately, it looks like it will be a long road ahead for the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs will need to work on their mental determination if they want the rest of their game to fall into place.

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