The crowd was on its feet, sneakers squeaked all over the hardwood floor and the John J. Lee Amphitheater was rocking out to a 14-0 run that gave the Bulldogs their first lead since early in the first half. But 15 seconds later, a stunned silence cascaded through the bleachers. With 5.4 seconds left on the clock, No. 12 Amanda Brown of Bucknell made a game-winning three-pointer to hand the Elis a heartbreaking 73-70 loss in their home-opener.
“At the end of the day, [Bucknell] had No. 12 and we didn’t,” head coach Chris Gobrecht said. “And that’s pretty much all there was to it.”
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Brown, who finished the game with two key three-pointers in the last minute, was clearly the Bisons’ go-to player as Bucknell (2-0) repeatedly ran a high pick-and-roll with her that seemed impossible for Yale (1-1, 0-0 Ivy) to stop at times.
“Pick-and-rolls are really hard to guard, especially when they have a really good player that could score on her own,” captain and guard Jamie Van Horne ’09 said. “Every time we play the pick-and-roll the way we were supposed to play, we did fine. We just had a couple of breakdowns.”
Those breakdowns started happening late in the first half, when Bucknell made a run to capture an eight-point advantage heading into halftime. But the bread-and-butter pick-and-roll really put the Elis in a hole when the Bison pushed the lead up to 15 with only eight minutes left in the game.
But that was when Yale made its run. Guard Brianna Segerson ’12, who had seven points, stole the ball and scored on a breakaway lay-up to ignite the run. After the lay-up, everybody got in on the action as guard-forward Melissa Colborne ’10 — who finished with a team-leading 16 points — and forward Haywood Wright ’10 added baskets to get the Elis a lead in the final minute.
“We just kept pushing the ball the same way we’d been doing all game and they just didn’t get back on defense,” Gobrecht said. “What happened to Bucknell is going to happen to every team that we play against — they’re just not gonna have anything in the tank in the last 10 minutes. That’s what we do, that’s what our game plan is, and that’s what happened.”
The Bulldogs clamped down on defense and came up with steals, loose balls and rebounds in traffic in order to ignite transition opportunities, many of which ended in open lay-ups and three-point plays. Yale dominated again on the glass with a 46-37 rebounding advantage. But the more significant statistic was their 23 offensive rebounds, which led to 30 second-chance points. Forward Mady Gobrecht
’11, who finished just shy of a double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds, including five offensive boards, was a big part of that.
“It’s just a matter of going after the ball harder than the person who’s trying to box you out,” she said. “I just tried to get around them and be more determined than they were.”
With plenty of positives to build on in the last-second loss, the team knows what it needs to do now in order to come out on top in future match-ups.
“They pretty much did exactly what you have to do in order to stop us,” Chris Gobrecht said. “It’s good to have experience playing against things that we’ll have difficulty dealing with.”
With games at the Subway Classic in Minnesota this weekend, Yale will have chances to put what they’ve learned into practice.
“We proved that we can come back from 18 points down, but we never should’ve been down by that much,” Van Horne said. “The biggest thing we can take away from this is that no matter how badly we play, the game can still be close in the end. We just need to be ready to come out next time and win the game.”