The women’s basketball team (1–0) took a nine-point lead into the half, but had to stave off a second-half surge by Holy Cross (0–1) before the Bulldogs emerged with the 74–71 win at the Hart Center on Friday night. It was the third consecutive year that the Bulldogs started off their season with a close win over the Crusaders. Last year Yale won 66–60 at home.
Head coach Chris Gobrecht said she was pleased that the team was able to pull out the win, especially since the team had lost two of its starters — forward Michelle Cashen ’12 and forward Janna Graf ’14 — to injuries. Gobrecht said that Cashen was out with a sprained ankle and that Graf has a case of mononucleosis.
“I thought we did a good job of holding them off down the stretch after they made a run at us,” Chris Gobrecht said. “Considering everything, it was solid. Everyone contributed, everyone helped us win that game, and that’s what we needed.”
Guard Megan Vasquez ’13 led the way for the Elis, finishing the night with a team-high 17 points, seven assists and one steal. Guard Verena Lehner ’12 tallied 15 points for the Bulldogs, while forward Mady Gobrecht ’11 and guard Allie Messimer ’13 both added 10 points. Mady Gobrecht was also strong on the boards and totaled eight rebounds for Yale.
Amy Lepley had a double-double for Holy Cross, notching a game-high 18 points and 11 rebounds in the contest. The Crusaders also had three other players who finished the night with double-digit point totals.
Though Holy Cross had the first four points of the matchup, Yale came back and scored 11 unanswered points to put the Bulldogs up 11–4 at 13:24. Forward Aarica West ’13 scored seven of those points off the bench, after missing most of last season due to injury. Freshman guard Amanda Tyson ’14 also contributed four points in her collegiate debut.
“They really gave us a lift,” Chris Gobrecht said of the Yale bench. “I thought everybody went in and did a great job. They were the ones who really built that lead for us in the first half.”
The Elis pushed their lead to as much as 11 points following a Vasquez 3-pointer that put Yale up 22–11. Vasquez went three for three from downtown in the game.
“I was trying to be really patient,” Vasquez said. “I was just waiting for the open look, and I took advantage of it.”
Despite being out-rebounded 23 to 11 in the first half by Holy Cross, the Bulldogs took advantage of 16 first half turnovers by the Crusaders to go into halftime with a 40–31 edge.
Holy Cross came out stronger in the second half, however, and began to chip away at Yale’s lead. The Crusaders outscored the Bulldogs 13-3 in the early minutes of the second half to come back and tie the contest at 43–43 with 14:01 left on the clock.
But Mady Gobrecht scored six straight points to put Yale up 62–55 with 6:21 left to play. All of her 10 points came in the second half.
The Crusaders briefly retook the lead following a big basket from Kelly Hamner that put Holy Cross up 63–62 with 4:45 left in regulation. It was first time the Elis had trailed since the opening minutes.
The two teams traded one-point leads over the next couple of minutes. A basket by Lepley knotted the contest at 69–69 with only 2:08 left to play, but the Bulldogs were able to regain the lead after captain and guard Yoyo Greenfield ’11 knocked down two big free throws to give Yale a 71–69 edge with 1:02 left on the clock. They were Greenfield’s first and only points of the night.
“I was happy to be there,” Greenfield said. “I like being in those situations. We’ve been shooting a lot of free throws on our own in practice, so it was just two more.”
Vasquez went on to seal the win for Yale after she converted a 3-point play to put the Bulldogs up 74–69. Though Holy Cross got one last basket from Alex Smith, it was not enough to overcome the Elis, giving Yale its first victory of the 2010-’11 season.
“We definitely still have a lot to work on, but it’s definitely always nice to start the season off with a win,” Mady Gobrecht said.
The Bulldogs travel to Boston on Wednesday for another non-conference matchup against Boston University. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.