Friday night was a battle of underclassmen, as guard Janna Graf ’14 and Brown sophomore guard Sheila Dixon traded basket after basket.
Graf and the Bulldogs ultimately came out on top, as the women’s basketball opened Ivy League play with a 66–54 win over the Bears at John J. Lee Amphitheater.
Despite struggling to knock down shots in the first half, the Bulldogs (5–10, 1–0 Ivy) rallied and used a second-half offensive surge to dismantle the Bears (4-11, 0-1).
Graf carried most of the offensive load for the Bulldogs and scored a career-high 26 points to lead all scorers. The six-foot freshman hit 10 of 17 shots from the field in the contest, including six of 12 shots from beyond the arc, enough to win both Ivy League Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week honors.
“I think it was just a good shooting night,” Graf said. “I really have to compliment my teammates because they did a great job of finding me and setting screens and getting me open. It wouldn’t have happened without them.”
Forward Mady Gobrecht ’11 also had a good night, scoring 11 points and grabbing a career-high 14 rebounds en route to her second double-double of the season. Guard Aarica West ’13 added eight points, seven boards and six assists.
Dixon led Brown with 21 points and four rebounds. Forward Aileen Daniels also pulled down seven boards and netted 10 points for the Bears.
Though Brown opened the game by taking an early 6–2 lead over the first three minutes, Yale stayed within striking distance for the entire first half. A three-pointer by guard Allie Messimer ’13 knotted the contest at 8–8 with 13:37 left in the half.
A basket from Graf at 8:59 gave the Elis a slim 13–12 lead, but the Bears responded by going on a 7–0 run to take a 19–13 edge.
Graf brought the Bulldogs within a point with a minute left in the first half, but Dixon pushed Brown’s lead to 25–22 by scoring one last layup before halftime. But the lead was short-lived, as Yale came out of the locker room and immediately erased the deficit with a three-pointer from West to tie the game at 25–25.
“I think we were struggling with our shots in the first half, but we still stayed solid on defense, and in the second half when our shots started going in more we kind of rattled them, so were able to pick up our play a little more,” Graf said.
Though Brown led 31–27 with 15:39 left on the clock, the Bulldogs battled back to take a 33–31 lead after guard Megan Vasquez ’13 and Messimer hit back-to-back three-pointers. The Bulldogs sank 7 of 15 second-half shots from downtown, four of which belonged to Graf.
“Janna is a really good player,” head coach Chris Gobrecht said. “They were giving her looks. Janna just never stops moving. She’s tough to ever get a read on because you can never find her. That’s the beauty of her game.”
The Elis used three shots from beyond the arc to fuel an 18–3 run that gave them a 54–42 lead with 6:50 left in regulation. After that, the Bears were unable to overcome the deficit, and the Bulldogs were able to pull away with their first Ancient Eight victory of the season.
“This is a huge win for us,” Graf said. “We were starting at 0–0, and now we’re 1–0, and I think this is really going to start our momentum for the Ivy League.”
Yale will face Brown again Friday night as part of their home-and-home series. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Pizzitola Sports Center in Providence.