A return to Payne Whitney Gymnasium over the weekend delivered just what the doctor ordered for the women’s basketball team, as the squad picked up wins against Stony Brook and Hofstra.
Led by a career-tying 27 points by forward Melissa Colborne ’10, the Bulldogs (2-5) beat Stony Brook (3-5), 81-64, for their first victory of the season. Colborne was named Ivy League Player of the Week for her efforts in leading the Elis. Guard Jamie Van Horne ’09 added 14 points for the Bulldogs, while guard Stephanie Marciano ’08 keyed the offense from the point with 10 assists.
The Elis last night followed up their performance against the Seawolves with a hard-fought 73-67 win over Hofstra (2-6) that was not decided until the final minute.
The Bulldogs were previously 0-5 on the season, with three losses to teams ranked in the Top 30 of women’s college basketball. While the losses mounted, the Elis continued to make offensive and defensive improvements that led to their breakout blowout win Friday.
Stony Brook came into the game at 3-4, with a win in its last game versus Hofstra, which played the Bulldogs yesterday. The Seawolves had an impressive frontcourt lineup featuring forward Dana Ferraro and center Morgan Patrick.
“We knew that Ferraro was important to their team, so we made sure she had to work for everything that she got,” guard Ashley Easley ’09 said. “Patrick was a big body inside, and we wanted to keep someone in front of her. We didn’t want them to feel comfortable.”
The Elis had previously struggled getting an early lead in games. Against Stony Brook, however, it was the Bulldogs who pulled off a 19-5 run to put themselves ahead.
“We’ve put a big focus on starting strong and staying strong throughout the game,” guard Katelynn Clement ’11 said. “Maintaining the intensity has been a big focus.”
Stony Brook closed the gap after the Elis’ run, setting the halftime score at 39-33 in favor of the home team. The Bulldogs, however, came firing out of the gates for the second half, separating themselves with a 26-9 run that pushed the Eli lead to 22 points.
“The difference was definitely Stony Brook just losing their ability to keep up with our fast-pace game,” forward Mady Gobrecht ’11 said. “We wore them out, and eventually we just pulled ahead.”
The Elis ended up outscoring Stony Brook by 11 in the second half, finishing the game with a 17-point margin of victory. A solid passing performance by the Bulldogs helped the offensive explosion, as the Elis recorded their second highest point total of the season on a season-high 21 assists.
“We had solid penetration of the key the whole game, so that really opened up a lot more opportunities for assists,” Clement said. “Steph [Marciano] did a great job of driving it in there hard and finding the open girls all game.”
Several players said the victory was a relief for everyone on the team after the Bulldogs opened the season with five straight losses, four of them on the road.
“It is great to get the first win, and we will definitely use this game as a confidence builder,” Easley said. “We have to stay focused and continue to improve so we can do it again game after game.”
Being at home appeared to be an advantage for the team as well, although players would appreciate more fan support, Gobrecht said.
“Finally playing at home after a bunch of away games was definitely nice,” Clement said.
While Stony Brook had previously beaten Hofstra, the Bulldogs found themselves competing against a resilient Pride team that would not give up easily. The Elis again struggled in the opening moments of the game, finding themselves behind by 12 points just 5:22 into the game.
But the Bulldogs came back with a 20-4 run over the next 11 minutes, highlighted by two three-pointers by Van Horne that allowed the Elis to take a 37-29 lead going into halftime.
The Bulldogs’ intense pressure defense helped fuel the comeback. The Elis were able to consistently get deflections and create turnovers against Hofstra both in the front and back courts. The pressure defense also helped create a frantic pace that played right into the Bulldogs’ plan and helped them build their lead.
But it was a tale of two halves for the Elis, as Hofstra made the necessary adjustments after the Bulldogs jumped to a 14-point advantage with 15:16 left in the second half to make the game close in the final minutes. In the second half, the Eli defense had problems stopping Pride center Lin Quamme and guard Candice Bellocchio, who had 17 and 16 points, respectively, in the game, while the Bulldog offense struggled for easy looks against the 2-3 zone the Pride mixed in.
A three-pointer by Pride guard Niki Williams put Hofstra within two with 1:28 left to play. The teams traded free throws on the next two possessions, with Colborne nailing a pair for the Elis.
Marciano missed a three-pointer on the Bulldogs’ next possession, but Gobrecht tied up the ball in the ensuing scramble with the possession arrow pointing to Yale. Two Van Horne free throws put the Elis up by four, and Van Horne subsequently blocked a three by Quamme to seal the game.
The Bulldogs are now off for 11 days before playing against crosstown rivals Quinnipiac on Saturday, Dec. 22, in Hamden, Conn.