As the race for the Ivy League title heats up, the Bulldogs are preparing to face Harvard for the second time this season.
The Elis will first face off against Dartmouth tonight at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. Then, on Saturday night against Harvard, they will try to channel the same energy that led them to a 68–63 victory over the Crimson earlier this season.
The Bulldogs (14–8, 6–2 Ivy) completed the road sweep of Harvard and Dartmouth three weeks ago, and now will try to match that feat at home. The team is currently in second place in the Ivy League to Princeton, and will try to hold onto that star this weekend against the third-place Crimson.
The Bulldogs will look for leadership from the brightest spot on their team right now, guard Megan Vasquez ’13. Last week the junior, who leads the team in scoring with 15.7 points per game, entered the Yale record books as she became the 17th player in Yale women’s basketball history to score 1,000 points for her career in Yale’s 86–73 victory over Cornell. And Vasquez did not simply back into her milestone; she stormed into the accomplishment with 25 points as she led the Elis to victory. The next night, against a visiting Columbia team, Vasquez set a new career high with 28 points as the Bulldogs roared back from a 12-point first-half deficit to beat the Lions, 73–59.
“She looks really comfortable and knows exactly what she wants out there on the floor,” head coach Chris Gobrecht said of her leading scorer. “She’s just hitting her stride right now, and it’s a good time for it.”
While a Harvard victory would be the real prize this weekend, the Bulldogs will have to get past the Big Green on Friday first. Dartmouth (3–18, 1–6 Ivy) has struggled to find success on the court this season, and the team’s only win in the last 17 games came against bottom-dwelling Columbia. The Big Green rank last in the Ivy League in both scoring offense and scoring defense, but they did push Penn into overtime last weekend and came within four points of victory at Cornell the week prior. The Bulldogs cannot take Dartmouth too lightly, but if they jump out to an early lead and put the game away quickly, they will get a valuable chance to rest their starters in preparation for tomorrow’s contest against Harvard.
The Crimson (12–9, 5–2 Ivy) do not share the Bulldogs’ good fortune, as they must contend with a tough Brown team before having to make the two-hour drive from Providence to New Haven for tomorrow night’s game. The Bears threw a wrench in Yale’s season earlier this year when they handed the Elis their first loss in only their second conference game, and the Crimson will have to work hard to avoid the same fate.
What Harvard does have going for it, however, is revenge. While Harvard leads the all-time series 41–30, the Bulldogs have won the two teams’ last three meetings, including the first contest of this year.
But guard Sarah Halejian ’15 said there is little reason to worry about the Elis getting overconfident.
“We’re not concerned with [the result of the previous game],” Halejian said. “We’re just focusing on Saturday going forward. We’re obviously pumped up because it’s Harvard, and we’ll be ready.”
Friday’s game is set to start at 7:00 p.m. and will be televised live on the YES Network. Tipoff Saturday is set for 6:00 p.m. at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.