In a weekend of defensive battles, the women’s basketball team split its two games, defeating Penn but falling to Princeton at John J. Amphitheater in the first weekend of back-to-back league action.
The Bulldogs (7–11, 3–1 Ivy) first hosted Penn (6–10, 0–2) on Friday night, when they were able to overcome a tough Quaker defense and pull out a 53–44 victory. The Elis sank eight three-pointers to give them an offensive lift and also had a strong defensive performance of their own to put themselves in the win column.
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“[Penn] never [stopped] coming at [us]; it doesn’t matter what was going on,” head coach Chris Gobrecht said. “I have a lot of respect for the work ethic of that team. They’re going to beat some people. I’m glad we survived.”
The win gave the Bulldogs their first 3–0 start to league play since the 2007-’08 season and kept them atop the Ivy League standings.
Guard Megan Vasquez ’13 scored 16 points in the contest on 6-of-15 shooting, including 4 of 7 shots from beyond the arc. Forward Mady Gobrecht ’11 added 11 points and eight rebounds, while forward Michelle Cashen ’12 grabbed a game-high 12 boards. Guard Aarica West ’13 also chipped in with nine points, five assists and four steals. The Elis won the battle of the boards, out-rebounding the Quakers 44-37 in the contest.
Freshman guard Alyssa Baron tallied 16 points for Penn, 12 of which came in the second half. Baron also added five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Cashen opened the game by scoring the game’s first four points to give the Bulldogs an early lead, but Penn responded by going on an 11–3 run to take an 11–7 edge at the 14:33 mark.
The Elis countered by going on an 11–2 run that was fueled by three consecutive three-pointers from Vasquez and West to take a six-point lead with 6:15 left in the half.
“Everyone worked really hard, and we really played really great defense as a team,” Vasquez said. “There were a lot of possessions where we had to play defense for maybe a minute, a minute and half, and nobody let down. We just kept going.”
Still, the Quakers used Megan McCullough’s jumper and layup to reduce Yale’s lead to 25-24 at halftime.
Penn quickly took a 26–25 edge to open the second half, but it was a lead that was short-lived. Vasquez and West erased the Quakers’ advantage by hitting back-to-back shots from downtown to give the Bulldogs a 31-26 advantage with 18:25 left on the clock.
“I thought the push really wore them out, and even though we weren’t getting a ton on the push, we got enough,” coach Gobrecht said. “I thought we got a couple of patient looks where they got a little tired, and we were able to capitalize.”
A three-point play from forward Alicia Seelaus ’13 pushed the Elis’ lead to 40–32, but a free throw and a three-pointer from Baron left the Quakers trailing by only four points at the 7:27 mark. But the Bulldogs defused Penn’s rally by outscoring the Quakers 12–6 over the next four minutes. Penn could not recover after that, and the Elis were able to pull away with their third straight league win.
The following night, the Bulldogs hosted defending Ivy League champion Princeton on Youth Day at John J. Lee Amphitheater.
Despite holding Princeton (14-3, 3-0) to only 20 points in the first half, the Elis could not contain the Tigers’ offense for a full 40 minutes, as the Tigers used a second half offensive surge to hand the Bulldogs a 52-37 defeat. It was Yale’s first league loss of the season.
“I think Princeton needs to give an assist to Penn because I think Penn really took it out of us last night,” coach Gobrecht said. “We just didn’t play well. Too many people didn’t show up to play well. You can’t beat Princeton by not showing up.”
The loss dropped the Bulldogs out of the top spot in the Ancient Eight to third place, behind Princeton and Harvard, who are both 3-0 in league play.
Gobrecht led the Bulldogs with 13 points, six boards and three assists, while guards Janna Graf ’14 and Allie Messimer ’13 added seven points apiece.
It was Tiger guards Addie Micir and Lauren Edwards who stole the show, tallying 18 and 17 points, respectively. Princeton out-rebounded the Elis 33-25 in the contest.
The game started off as a back-and-forth contest as both teams struggled to find a steady offensive rhythm. Gobrecht got off to a fast start, scoring the Bulldogs’ first nine points to give Yale a 9–7 edge at the 14:34 mark.
A three-pointer from Messimer four minutes later gave the Elis a four-point lead, their largest in the first half.
Princeton briefly took a 20–19 lead following a layup from Kate Miller with 2:11 left, but a layup from Gobrecht gave the Bulldogs a 22–20 edge at halftime.
A shot from beyond the arc from guard Janna Graf ’14 extended the Elis’ lead to 25-20 to start the second half. But after that, the Tigers found their offensive stride and began to outpace the Bulldogs.
Though the game stayed tight for the next four minutes, Princeton used a 14–1 run to permanently seize control of the game and take a 46–31 edge with 3:50 left to play.
“They play very, very tough defense,” coach Gobrecht said. “That’s what people don’t realize is that it’s their defense that sucks the will out of you, because when you can’t score, then they know you’ll loosen up defensively, and that’s what we did. If we hadn’t loosened up, I think they would have continued to struggle.”
A three-point play from Messimer stopped the bleeding, but the Tigers’ run put the game out of reach for Yale.
“We had a pretty rough second half,” Messimer said. “We didn’t do the things we needed to do, like not turn the ball over and beat them on the boards. They killed us on the boards in the second half. We just didn’t compete like we should’ve been.”
The Bulldogs continue back-to-back league action this weekend when they travel to Ithaca, N.Y. to face Cornell on Friday and New York, N.Y. to face Columbia on Saturday. Both games are slated to tip-off at 7 p.m.