After an injury-plagued year, the women’s basketball team will wrap up a final road trip to conclude its season this weekend.
Although the Bulldogs have been mathematically eliminated from the Ivy Title, facing the current league leaders — Dartmouth and Harvard — might offer the joys of being a spoiler and inject some drama into this final weekend of play in the Ancient Eight.
Yale (11-15, 4-8 Ivy) currently sits at seventh place in the Ivy League, but this team is by no means a walkover.
“Our up-tempo style of play requires great depth, and injuries this year have really hurt us,” head coach Chris Gobrecht said. “Even so, they’ve been awesome all year, and I think we really took a big step this year in terms of competing at a high level. That’s how we surprised some people earlier in the non-conference season.”
Indeed, the team’s fast-paced, up-and-down style beat ACC powerhouse North Carolina State on Nov. 22 and was only one possession away from knocking out Kentucky later that month .
And when a team is that good, it can hang with anybody. That is why this weekend could prove to be one filled with theatrics.
The Elis will first take on league leader Dartmouth (15-10, 10-1) tonight before journeying to Massachusetts for a season finale against the second-place Crimson (17-8, 9-2) on Saturday. Both teams have separated themselves from the pack within the Ivies, and most offensive and defensive statistics back that up. Dartmouth leads the league in scoring defense, holding its opponents to just 55.9 points a game. Meanwhile, Harvard leads the league in scoring, netting an average of 68.2 points per contest. The Crimson also have the greatest scoring margin in its wins, outscoring its opponents by 4.9 points a game.
The contrasting styles of the two opponents could prove to be a difficult challenge for the Elis, but if Yale can play the role of David to Dartmouth’s Goliath, the Bulldogs could decide the ultimate winner of the Ancient Eight.
After last week’s loss against Cornell, the Big Green holds only a one-game advantage over Harvard. A win against Dartmouth on Friday night, coupled with a win by the Crimson against Brown, means that Yale’s two weekend opponents would be tied atop the Ivy League rankings. This scenario is certainly within the realm of possibility, since Harvard should have no problem taking care of the lowly Brown Bears, who only have one win in the Ivy League. If the Bulldogs can push the ball to avoid facing Dartmouth’s stifling half-court defense, then an Eli victory could be within reach.
Should that scenario arise, Yale will then play the role of spoiler to the Cantabs’ chances a day after giving them hope. By first defeating Dartmouth, then putting away Harvard, the Elis could momentarily allow Harvard a sliver of hope for a shared Ivy title, only to take it away. In a season filled with bad luck, a 2-0 finish this weekend could cap the season with a satisfying torture of Yale’s oldest rival.
Tip-off for this week’s action will be against the Big Green at 7 p.m. in Hanover, N.H.