When Megan Vasquez ’13 went to the bench with her second foul less than four minutes into the game, Yale needed help. The Bulldogs had made only two of their eight shots and after Fairleigh Dickinson’s Danielle Pankey made both of her free throws they found themselves already in a 10-4 hole.
Aarica West ’13 delivered, and the Bulldogs went on to crush Fairleigh Dickinson 80-51.
30 seconds after Vasquez went to the bench, head coach Chris Gobrecht called a timeout to settle her team down and sent in West off the bench. West was sidelined with a foot injury for the season opener against Holy Cross and did not even practice on Sunday.
“I felt good, but I was really tired from not having worked out all week,” she said of her first game back. “I was a little nervous, but I tried to come out with that attitude that I had nothing to lose. My foot was going to hurt either way, but hopefully it just keeps getting better.”
She certainly showed no signs of rust. West quickly made Yale’s next two baskets, sparking a 14-2 run over the next three minutes that gave the Elis a lead they never relinquished. She was all over the court during that span and returned to the bench with six points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals.
West’s return in Monday night’s lopsided victory provided an appropriate sequel to the Bulldog freshmen’s collegiate debut last Friday. West, Hayden Latham ’15 and Sarah Halejian ’15 were three of the six Elis to finish the game with nine points or more, and West and Halejian helped Yale to a 34-7 edge in bench points.
“One of the great things about our team is that we all play so well together,” Latham said. “This lets us put a lot of different units together out on the floor and still be successful.”
The Bulldogs’ depth and speed wore the Knights down all game. Each of Fairleigh Dickinson’s starters played 24 minutes or more while only one Yale player, forward Janna Graf ’13, logged over 25 minutes. his translated into large margins for the Bulldogs in transition baskets and second chance points.
Gobrecht also appreciated the team’s depth and the advantages it gave her.
“A big part of how these guys get it done is they wear out other teams,” she said. “That was certainly part of the game plan, to just go at them and try to wear them out. We have the depth to do it.”
Even more impressive than this depth was the Bulldogs’ suffocating defense on Monday. They have now held opponents to less than 30 points in three out of the four halves that they have played. Turnovers continue to plague Eli opponents, and this time the Bulldogs were able to convert 30 Knights turnovers into 43 points.
West saw this part of the team’s game as the key to its success so far.
“It all starts with defense,” she said. “We play a full-court pressure defense and coach is always instilling in us the importance of staying up on your girl and everyone giving full effort all the time.”
The Bulldogs look to continue their strong start on Friday at Marist. Friday’s game is their second in a six-game stretch away from home that lasts until they face Boston University on Dec. 7.