Friday night was a historic one for the women’s basketball team.
Guard Megan Vasquez ’13 became the 17th player in Yale’s women’s basketball history to score 1,000 points in her career, and coach Chris Gobrecht picked up her 500th career victory in the team’s 86-73 win over Cornell at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.
“It was a special thing that they happened on the same night,” Gobrecht said of her and Vasquez’s accomplishments. “Megan has had a lot to do with many of the wins that have come in recent years, and she has been one of the players that has brought Yale to a different level of competition, so I’m glad that [these achievements] happened together.”
Vasquez matched her career-high of 25 points in the Bulldogs’ (14-8, 6-2 Ivy) win, and Gobrecht added that she was glad that Vasquez’s contribution was so important on the night she reached this milestone. Vasquez and the team finished up the weekend in top form the next night, as the junior led the Elis to a 73-59 victory over visiting Columbia. Not content with her 25 points from the night before against Cornell, Vasquez set a new career-high with 28 points on Saturday.
The Bulldogs’ offense was firing on all cylinders Friday night, and the team jumped out to an early lead against the Big Red (9-12, 3-4 Ivy). Yale led by 12 seven minutes into the game and went on a 9-2 run in the last two minutes of the first half to go into the break up 41-25. This quick start was important for a team that had trailed at halftime in every Ivy League game up until that point. In three of the previous four contests the Elis had come out of halftime and gone on big runs to retake the lead, but against first-place Princeton last weekend the team could not get going in the second half and lost 72-47.
“We’ve played really well in the second half up to this point,” captain Michelle Cashen ’12 said. “But there’s no guarantee we’ll always be able to do that as the Princeton game showed. [Starting quickly] is something we’ve been focusing on recently and it was good to see in the game on Friday.”
The Bulldogs assisted 24 of their 30 made baskets on Friday and shot 48.4 percent from the floor, well above their season average. Ten of those assists came courtesy of guard Aarica West ’13, a career-high for the junior. Cornell actually outshot Yale, amassing a 53.1 percent mark from the field, but the Elis made up the difference with 12 offensive rebounds that they converted into a 19-9 edge in second-chance points. The team also capitalized well on Cornell’s mistakes and turned 17 Big Red turnovers into 21 points for Yale.
Coming into this weekend, the Columbia game on Saturday had all the makings of a one-sided rout, but the 73-59 final score belies a close game of which Yale was fortunate to come out on top. The Lions (2-19, 0-7 Ivy) still have yet to win a conference game but had forced a good Brown team to overtime the night before and were in no mood to lie over for the Bulldogs. Gobrecht said that she watched film of the Columbia-Brown game and knew that the Elis would not be facing the same team that was blown-out, 94-35, against Princeton earlier this year.
The Bulldogs started off well for the second night in a row and made four consecutive shots during a two-minute stretch in the opening minutes of the game. Around the 15-minute mark, however, the team went cold and allowed Columbia to go on a 12-2 run to take a 19-13 lead. The team spent the rest of the first half climbing back and, despite a 12-3 run to close out the period, went into halftime down 32-29. The Lions actually extended their lead once the game got underway, scoring five of the first seven points of the second half. From that point on though, the Bulldogs’ superior talent prevailed, and the Elis systematically disposed of their opponents. Yale outscored Columbia 44-27 in the second half as the Bulldogs forced 11 Columbia turnovers and shot a blistering 53.1 percent from the field.
Yale returned home this weekend after playing the previous two weekends on the road, and guard Sarah Halejian ’15 said that the familiar environs made a big difference.
“It was much nicer to be home this weekend,” the freshman said. “We were able to relax and not having to travel made a big difference. We definitely seemed more tired on Saturday last weekend after traveling the whole time.” Cashen added that the less rigid schedule and even being able to sleep in their own beds had an impact on the team.
The Bulldogs remain at home next weekend to face Dartmouth on Friday night and a rematch against Harvard at 6 p.m. on Saturday.