The Bulldogs return home this weekend looking to rebound from last Saturday’s defeat at Princeton and regain control of their conference season.
Yale (12-8, 4-2 Ivy) is currently sitting in third place in the Ivy League after last week’s loss to the first-place Tigers and is half a game behind second-place Harvard. The Elis take on Cornell tonight at the John J. Lee Amphitheater and will face off against Columbia tomorrow.
Cornell (9-10, 3-2 Ivy) trails the Bulldogs by a half-game in the Ivy League standings. While the Big Red should not pose too great a challenge, Cornell is one of the more accurate shooting teams in the league.
The Big Red leads the conference in assists with 13.8 per game, slightly ahead of the Bulldogs’ 13.7 assists per game. The Elis have also exhibited a tendency to start slowly in the past few games, which guard Aarica West ’13 attributed to unfocused, anxious play in an interview this week. Against Harvard, Dartmouth and Penn the Bulldogs were able to recover and go on big scoring runs in the second half, but the team cannot keep relying on late sparks of energy to save itself.
Nonetheless, Cornell has yet to collect a win against an Ivy League team with a winning record and will have to prove that it belongs in the top half of the standings with Princeton, Harvard and Yale. The Big Red lost badly to Princeton in its first conference game and lost to the Crimson by ten last week.
Columbia’s hopes for this season took a huge hit before the team even took the floor when sophomore Brianna Orlich, the team’s leading scorer last season, announced that she was ending her college basketball career early because of a knee injury. The Lions (2-17, 0-5 Ivy) have yet to come within ten points of winning an Ivy League game and were outscored 94-35 by the Tigers earlier this season. Saturday’s game should come as a welcome relief for the Bulldogs after what could be a close game Friday night.
This weekend, the Elis will play on back-to-back days for the second week in a row, and they will have to deal with the rigors of two games in two days for the remainder of the Ivy League season. The Bulldogs may have fared better against Princeton last weekend had they not played in Philadelphia the night before, but West said that the team will be making no excuses this weekend.
“We just have to get in the mode that this is the Ivy League, and we have to put ourselves in a position where we won’t let [the schedule] be the deciding factor,” the junior guard said.
The game against Columbia on Saturday is also the centerpiece of Yale’s fifth annual Pink Zones Weekend, a series of athletic events designed to raise awareness and funds for research into breast cancer treatment. The weekend includes a bench-pressing competition between the New Haven Police and Fire Departments, and the Bulldog Invitational hosted by the Yale gymnastics team on Saturday. On Sunday, the men’s and women’s squash teams will host Harvard. Last year’s Pink Zones weekend raised over $10,000 for the Smillow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven Hospital.