The women’s basketball team had a steep learning curve this weekend at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. The Bulldogs (11–13, 6–4 Ivy) lost to first-place Princeton (21–2, 9–0) 65–44 on Friday night and then learned from Princeton’s example to throttle Penn (1–22, 0–9) 70–38 on Saturday night.
The Elis, who have already eclipsed their Ivy League win total from last season, now have as many overall wins this season as all of last year. The Bulldogs remain tied for third place in the Ivy League.
The Tigers, who defeated the Elis 69–48 on Jan. 30, once again proved to be a difficult matchup for the Bulldogs, starting strong to take a 14–4 lead. Princeton played scrappy basketball, doing all the little things and never giving up on a single play, best demonstrated when Princeton guard Krystal Hill, the shortest player on the court, muscled through the Eli defense to get an offensive rebound and put it back for a layup. The teams entered the locker rooms at halftime with the Tigers leading 37–26.
“I give Princeton a lot of credit for how hard they work,” head coach Chris Gobrecht said. “They do all the dirty work. They’re a tremendous model for the rest of the Ivy League.”
The second half proved just as difficult for the Bulldogs as the visitors held the home team to just 16.7 percent shooting after halftime. The Tigers slowly built their lead with their aggressive defense, leaving New Haven with a 21 point victory.
“We just didn’t execute,” forward Haywood Wright ’10 said. “We didn’t play as well as we needed to.”
Overall, the Princeton defense held Yale to 44 points on 24.2 percent shooting, forced 24 Yale turnovers and converted 24 points off of those turnovers. They also had eight blocks and 11 steals. Even though Princeton could probably outscore its opponents by posting 80 to 90 points a game, the team still plays defense on every play, Gobrecht said.
Wright led Yale with eight points and 10 rebounds while forward Mady Gobrecht ’11 added eight points and seven rebounds.
The Bulldogs and coach Gobrecht talked a lot about Princeton in the locker room after the game, and the team pledged to emulate Princeton’s style of playing consistently and together, guard Yoyo Greenfield ’11 said.
The Elis rebounded the next day by defeating last-place Penn 70–38. On Saturday, Yale Athletics kicked off the all day WBCA Pink Zone celebration to collect donations for breast cancer research, and the result was hundreds of fans dressed in pink, including the Yale Precision Marching Band, cheering on the team during the game.
“It was really nice having an actual fan base,” forward Melissa Colborne ’10 said.
The Bulldogs played off the fans’ energy, starting the game on a 22–2 run from which they would never look back. The Eli defense was fierce, holding the Quakers to 7-for-29 shooting in the first half to enter halftime with a 35–20 lead.
And the Elis did not let up. They opened the second half with a 13–2 run to take a 48–22 lead with 15:44 remaining. The Bulldog defense was even stronger in the second 20 minutes, holding Penn to only 18 points on 5-for-25 shooting.
The Elis looked like a different team, playing hard even as they lead by as many as 30 points. Captain and guard Ashley Carter ’10 was relentless on defense in the last minutes of the game. And Wright, who with three minutes to go and Yale up 24, missed a jumper but got her own rebound, and made a layup. The next play on the other side of the court, Wright blocked a shot.
“You just need to do whatever you can to help your team,” Wright said.
The Bulldogs’ commitment to play together as a team and not as individuals was evident in their 20 assists on 25 field goals, coach Gobrecht said.
The Elis had a season-low 11 turnovers while earning 25 points on 21 Penn turnovers.
Guard Megan Vasquez ’13 led Yale with 12 points while Greenfield and Colborne scored 10 points apiece.
Next weekend, the Bulldogs willl play at home once again when they face Dartmouth (10–13, 5–4) and Harvard (16–7, 7–2) in what will be their final two home games of the season.
“We haven’t swept Harvard and Dartmouth at home since my freshman year,” Colborne said. “I’d like to finish my Ivy career at home with two wins.”