The shot clock was running down and captain and guard Jamie Van Horne ’09 caught an emergency pass out of the post. Without hesitation, Van Horne spotted up and calmly drained a three-pointer from 25 feet to give Yale a 3-2 lead against Bryant on Tuesday night.
It was the last non-conference game for the home team and the Elis (7-7, 0-0 Ivy) eventually triumphed, 77-71, in a tough game against a formerly Division III Bryant (5-11) team that played an Ivy League type of game.
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“That team is pretty much like all the teams we’re going to play in the Ivies,” said forward Mady Gobrecht ’11, who almost had a double-double with 11 rebounds and eight assists. “I didn’t necessarily have a great offensive game, but I just focused on rebounding. No matter how much bigger and stronger they were than us, crashing the boards is my job and it’s what I have to do.”
Head coach Chris Gobrecht also had high praise for the visitors.
“This team had a lot of Ivy League characteristics because they played really smart, really hard and really together,” she said. “The Ivy League is just tough and this was a great game to sharpen up our toughness.”
And tough it was. The game was a physical affair and several key starters sat out significant stretches of the game with foul trouble. Part of the problem was Yale’s visible height disadvantage against Bryant’s squad. With seven players who measure above 6 feet, the visitors outrebounded Yale, 47-33, and through those extra possessions, were able to slow the frenetic pace of play that the Elis wanted to establish.
“We’ve got to quit fouling,” Chris Gobrecht said when asked about the slower tempo of the game. “That team was sucking wind on the road and we kept fouling them and allowing them to catch their breath.”
Bryant was able to hang with Yale and with eight minutes left in the game, took the lead for the first time since the opening minutes. But Yale’s two stars of the night, forward Melissa Colborne ’10 and guard Yoyo Greenfield ’11, lifted the team up on their shoulders and carried the Elis to victory. Despite battling foul trouble all night, Colborne finished the game with a season-high 25 points off of a scorching 10-14 performance from the field.
But when she fouled out late in the game, the team rallied around each other and found confidence in unlikely places with a rousing performance from guard Ashley Carter ’10.
“As dominant as Mel is, we’re always focusing on how team-oriented we are,” Mady Gobrecht said. “Carter stepped up big time tonight and when we were kind of in a slump earlier in the game, she came off the bench and just took it straight to the hole.”
Despite Yale’s scrappy play, the game was still very much up for grabs with less than two minutes to go. But that’s when Greenfield came to the rescue and matched her career high of 19 points with a cold-blooded performance from the free-throw line to put the game out of reach for the visitors.
“I like to be there,” she said, when asked about the high-pressure situation of late-game free throws. “I like to be responsible for my team and make sure that I don’t let my team down. It happened to me a lot in high school and my dad used to make me shoot free throws with him dancing around on the baseline.”
With another victory decided in the final minutes, Yale’s focus on late-game execution and pressure defense is really starting to pay off. Experience on the winning side of these games bodes well for the Ivy League season, where every game will be down to the wire.
“We’ve definitely been harped on constantly this past week on defense and it was definitely big for us to get our hands in the passing lanes and really work on our defense,” Mady Gobrecht said. “Having this game under our belts definitely gives us confidence going into the Ivy season.”