A couple more weekends like this and a doctor might have enough evidence to diagnose the Bulldogs with multiple personality disorder.
After playing a smart and efficient game down the stretch to pull off a 63-61 win over Columbia (9-9, 2-2 Ivy) on Friday, the Elis (9-9, 2-2) didn’t even show up against Cornell (7-9, 3-1) 24 hours later, losing 57-42.
“I don’t think we were ready to play tonight,” captain and guard Jamie Van Horne ’09 said of their performance against the Big Red. “They embarrassed us. They were tougher than us and they just wanted it more.”
While the scoreboard said the Bulldogs only lost by 15, the game was already out of reach early in the first half, when Yale managed only one field goal over the first 8:55 of play.
“This team hasn’t been a good starting team all year and it’s largely because this is a very quiet team,” head coach Chris Gobrecht said. “It’s not an emotional, pump-you-up sort of team and we’re often slow starters because of that.”
The lack of passion and energy manifested itself in a massive rebound deficit as Cornell completely out-hustled the Bulldogs 46-30 on the boards. Certainly, the fact that Cornell shot twice Yale’s percentage from the field — 40 percent shooting versus just 20 percent for the Elis — was a chief contributor to the rebounding advantage. When the other team isn’t missing very often, it’s difficult to collect rebounds. Conversely, when shot after shot clangs off the rim, it doesn’t take a whole lot for them to pick up rebounds.
Only two of Yale’s players finished with double-digit scoring. Guard Yoyo Greenfield ’11 scrapped for 11 points while forward Haywood Wright ’10, the lone bright spot on the offense for the Elis, finished with 13 points and six rebounds. Most tellingly, forward Melissa Colborne ’10, who leads the team with an average of 17.1 points a game, finished with only four points.
“Nobody has ever stopped Mel effectively when she really wants it and [Cornell] wasn’t doing anything special against Mel,” Gobrecht said, when asked about Colborne’s struggles in the game. “When Mel wants the ball, Mel gets the ball. And when Mel’s checked out … well, you saw what happened tonight.”
On the other hand, Yale’s game the night before against Columbia was a completely different affair. The Lions played a very even game with the Bulldogs and there were 13 ties and five lead changes in the contest. Every time one team made a run, turnovers and opportunistic shots changed the momentum the other way. Even when forward Mady Gobrecht ’11 made two free-throws for a 4-point lead with just 13 seconds remaining in the game, the Lions were able to draw a four on a 3-point attempt.
With 1.6 seconds left and trailing by two at 63-61, Columbia had one last chance to tie or win the game. But the Bulldogs played smart, tough defense and did not allow the Lions to get off a shot. Their final play showed the kind of gritty execution that the Elis are capable off in a tight game.
“It was two pretty good teams playing a very hotly contested game,” Chris Gobrecht said of the contest against Columbia. “As soon as one tries to catch their breath, the other would make a run. It was just a very balanced matchup.”
The Elis were also boosted by a great effort from forward Michelle Cashen ’12, who was forced to play crunch-time minutes for Wright because of the starter’s foul troubles. Cashen had the difficult task of trying to defend Columbia’s best player, Judie Lomax, who showed why she is one of the leading rebounders in the nation by finishing with 18 rebounds. Cashen took advantage of her increased responsibilities and finished with 10 points, the second double-digit scoring night of her career.
“When I had to go and fill in Haywood’s shoes because she was in foul trouble, I wasn’t really thinking about the pressure,” Cashen said. “You can’t hold anything back when you get your opportunity. At that point, I just focused on playing my game and stopping Lomax.”
Although the Elis were victorious against Columbia, the win seemed more lucky than deserved when put in perspective against their performance — or lack thereof — against Cornell.
It’s been a tale of two Bulldogs so far this season. At times, Yale has looked poised and unfazed. At other times, the Elis have been uninterested and over-matched. With a televised game on the YES Network against Harvard this Friday, which Bulldog team will show up?
“After tonight, you can see that clearly see that we’re not ready to win the Ivy League,” Chris Gobrecht said after Saturday’s loss to Cornell. “Until we get past playing however we feel like playing instead of playing for whatever the situation demands, we’re not going to have great success. I’ve know this about us for a long time now, so it’s not really surprising, but I just have to keep pounding away.”
As John J. Lee Amphitheater’s staff swept the floors and prepared to shut the gym down for the night on Saturday, a few members of the women’s basketball team huddled under the bleachers in heated discussion. Maybe they were talking about making changes in their attitude. Maybe they were talking about making changes in their effort. One thing is for sure: If they want to have any kind of success in the Ivy League, change is in order.