Down big, women dig deep and pull out win

Two years, 10 months and 15 days. All streaks must come to an end, and the women’s basketball team ended its own on Saturday by winning its first Ivy League road victory in almost three years.

In what proved to be a tough game at the Pizzitola Sports Center in Providence, R.I., Yale (3-10, 1-0 Ivy) came back from a double-digit deficit in the second half to defeat Brown (1-14, 0-1 Ivy), 52-45. The Elis struggled with shooting throughout the game, almost opening the door for a Bears upset. The Bulldogs then turned to free-throw shooting in the second half, scoring 19 of their 33 second half points at the line, paving the way for a victory.

Brown came into the game as the nation’s worst shooting team, but it was the Elis who had trouble finding the net in the first half. The Bears’ field-goal percentage for the first half was 46.4 percent compared to the Bulldogs’ 21.9 percent, which included two for 17 on three-pointers.

The Elis hung in the game despite their shooting woes until a late-half 12-4 Bears run broke open a 27-19 Brown lead going into the locker room.

“Brown missed a lot of shots early, and I think we stopped working as hard on defense because we thought the game was going to be easier than it was,” guard Jamie Van Horne ’09 said. “They picked it up and it took us too long to match their intensity in the first half.”

The Bears’ momentum continued in the second half as they pushed their lead to 12 points with 15:03 left in the game. Captain and starting point guard Stephanie Marciano ’08 was out for the game after a rib injury in the first half, and the Bulldogs had their backs against the wall.

“Everyone realized how important this game was,” forward Lindsey Williams ’11 said. “Our captain, [Marciano], told us at halftime that if we don’t dig deep, you are going to regret this loss for the rest of your time at Yale.”

From that point on, the Elis outscored the Bears 30 to 11. The key to their huge run came from easy points at the free-throw line, Williams related. Several players explained that the team started focusing on being more aggressive and concentrating on drives to the basket. Forward Melissa Colborne ’10 led this effort, finishing the game seven for 11 at the free-throw line with a team-leading 17 points.

The Bulldogs also outscored the Bears at the free-throw line in the second half with 19 points off free throws compared to the Bears’ total of 18. This surge in free throws stemmed from the Elis being in the bonus for most of the second half. Overall, the Bulldogs shot 22 for 28 for the game at a solid percentage of 78.6 percent.

Guard Yoyo Greenfield ’11 stepped up in Marciano’s place, playing point guard in the second half while earning herself the Ivy League Rookie of the Week position. Greenfield finished the game with 11 points, six rebounds and a three assists.

“I was trying to focus on being a good leader [like Marciano] and not turning the ball over,” Greenfield said.

While several Bulldogs expressed frustration at their putrid shooting performance of 24.1 percent for the game, players said they also saw positives from the victory.

“I think it tells a lot about our team that we were able to overcome a bad shooting night and still come up with a win,” Van Horne said.

Another positive was the Elis’ breakthrough on the road, which ended the Ivy League losing streak. Only seniors Marciano and Sara McCollum ’08 were on the team that won 81-57 at Cornell on March 4, 2005. Since then, it has only been struggles for the Bulldogs, several of whom said they were excited to end the streak.

“Even all the freshmen knew how important this victory was for the team,” Greenfield said. “It is vital that we win on the road if we are going to win the Ivy League.”

The Elis finish their non-conference schedule today playing at Massachusetts (8-8) at 7 p.m in Amherst, Mass. The Bulldogs will hope to bounce back from their poor shooting performance and spring the victory against the Minutewomen.

“UMass is a good team, but it will be a good game for us to test ourselves against a strong opponent and stay focused for our rematch with Brown next Saturday,” Van Horne said.

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