It just was not meant to be: Though the women’s basketball team hoped for its first sweep of Dartmouth and Harvard in three years, the Elis fell just short of their goal this past weekend at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.
After defeating the Big Green (11–14, 6–5) 58–42 on Friday, the Bulldogs (12–14, 7–5 Ivy) narrowly lost to the Crimson (18–7, 9–2) 68–60 on Saturday’s Senior Night despite a spirited Yale surge in the closing minutes. But the event was marred by an altercation between the two teams following the game, when Crimson stopped the Bulldogs from doing their traditional post-game chant. After splitting games, the Elis remain in third place in the conference.
The Elis started the weekend against Dartmouth, the defending Ivy League Champions. In the two teams’ previous meeting on Feb. 13, the Bulldogs defeated the Big Green in double overtime.
A three-pointer from guard Yoyo Greenfield ’11 on Yale’s opening possession set the tone for the Elis, as the Bulldogs held the Big Green to one field goal over the first 9:54 of the contest to take a 16–4 lead. After Dartmouth finally hit a layup to break its drought, Yale sprang together another seven-minute 14–2 run to take a commanding 30–8 lead with three minutes left in the half. After the first 20 minutes, the Bulldogs entered the locker room with a 32–15 lead.
“We came ready to play today,” guard and captain Ashley Carter ’10 said. “We haven’t done that the last few Fridays.”
The 15 first-half points surrendered by the Yale defense tied its season-best for points allowed in any half.
After the break, play became more even as the teams traded baskets, allowing the Bulldogs to maintain their double-digit lead. While the Big Green narrowed the deficit to as little as 13 with 5:41 to go, the Elis responded with a big layup from forward Melissa Colborne ’10. The Bulldogs would remain in control the rest of the way.
Overall, Yale held Dartmouth to 27.7 percent shooting and scored 26 points off 21 Dartmouth turnovers.
“We’re a good defensive team,” head coach Chris Gobrecht said. “When we work hard, teams can’t score against us.”
But the Bulldog defense could not be sustained the next day. As the game opened, the Bulldogs seemed unsettled by the emotions of Senior Night, allowing Harvard to go on an early 15–0 run. The Crimson fired and hit a barrage of uncontested three-pointers, quickly building a 22–8 lead after 10 minutes of play. Harvard’s offense continued to put points on the board for the rest of the half, and the teams entered the intermission with the Cantabs leading 45–26.
The Yale defense surrendered 30 more points in the first half than in the game the night before.
“I think we got caught up in our emotions at the start,” Gobrecht said. “Harvard hit some shots and got confident.”
The second half began with an 8–1 Crimson run as Harvard extended its lead to 53–27. But the Bulldogs would not go quietly in their last home game. Forward Alicia Seelaus ’13 hit a series of interior field goals to get the Bulldogs back into the game. Nevertheless, Harvard continued scoring, and with 10 minutes to go, the Crimson led 59–34.
But the Bulldogs continued to fight, and a Greenfield three-pointer sparked a 9–0 Yale spurt that cut the Cantab lead to 16. After the Crimson pushed the lead back to 20 with a jumper and a layup, the Bulldogs strung together another 9–0 run, spearheaded by very aggressive defense from Carter, who stole the ball twice during the run.
With one minute to go, and Yale trailing 66–54, a jumper from Colborne cut the lead to 10. On the ensuing in-bounds, Carter stole the ball yet again and put in a layup to cut the lead to eight with 44 seconds left, sending the raucous Yale crowd and the Yale Precision Marching Band into a frenzy.
The Cantabs responded immediately with a layup, silencing the crowd and all but ensuring the victory. The Bulldog comeback proved too little too late, as the Crimson escaped with an eight-point victory.
The game was marred after play ended when the Yale team, attempting to do its traditional chant at midcourt, were physically prevented from doing so by the Harvard team, resulting in a tense altercation escalating to the point that the two teams exchanged words and appeared on the verge of physical violence.
“They were classless,” Gobrecht said of the Crimson players. “What’s worse is that their coaching staff was encouraging them.”
Yale ended up outscoring Harvard 34–23 in the second half, just short of the points necessary for victory. Colborne led the Bulldogs with 14 points, while guard Megan Vasquez ’13 added 11 points and six rebounds. Carter had a season-best eight points.
The contest marked the final home game in the careers of Colborne, Carter and forward Haywood Wright ’10, whose four years at Yale began with a team coming off a 3–24 season and now end with a team finally competitive in the Ivy League.
“The future is good,” Wright said. “We’ve just tried to carry our team.”
The Bulldogs now have the chance to post their best Ivy record in 21 years if they win their last two games on the road against Ivy foes Columbia and Cornell.
“This will fire us up,” Gobrecht said. “We want to send our seniors out the right way.”
The Bulldogs travel to Columbia on Friday before facing Cornell on Saturday.