The Yale women’s basketball team thrilled the home crowd with second-half surges against Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend, but was unable to complete the comebacks and came up short in both games.
On Saturday night, the Elis (6–12, 1–3 Ivy) fell to Dartmouth 63–48 at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. The Bulldogs got off to a slow start, ending the half at a 30–15 disadvantage. The Big Green (5–13, 3–1 Ivy) controlled the pace in the half, challenging the Bulldogs’ defense making 48.3 percent of their field goals compared to only 23.1 percent for the Elis.
After coming out to a slow start, the Bulldogs turned things around in the second half. In the first seven minutes, guards Sarah Halejian ’15 and captain Allie Messimer ’13 combined for 16 points to close the gap.
“It is in our nature to come out relaxed and not exactly ready to play,” Halejian said. “We have to find a way to play the full 40 minutes with a high level of intensity.”
The Bulldog defense came out energized to start the second half and applied much more on-ball pressure on the Big Green. They were able to hold Dartmouth to only two points in the first six minutes, cutting the deficit to 32–29 at the 14:51 mark.
The Elis were never able to inch any closer, and Dartmouth pulled away behind a 19-point performance from senior guard Faziah Steen.
Halejian led the scoring for the Elis with 15 points, with all of her points coming in the second half. Messimer added 14 of her own and pulled down four rebounds for the Bulldogs.
In Friday night’s game against Harvard (12–6, 3–1 Ivy), the Bulldogs’ second-half rally fell short despite an impressive team 3-point shooting performance. The Bulldogs were 6–12 from 3 in the second half and shot 34.6 percent from behind the arc over the course of the game.
“I think we rely way too heavily on the 3,” Halejian said. “When it’s not dropping, we need to attack the basket more on the drive and find people inside as opposed to continuing to force outside shots. We can’t live and die by the 3.”
The shooting was spread between the Elis, with four different Bulldogs netting at least two 3-pointers. Guard Megan Vasquez ’13 led the scoring with 13 points, followed by guard Halejian and forward Janna Graf ’14, who each added 10. Graf led the team in rebounding with nine boards, leaving her just short of a double-double.
The Bulldogs came out firing on all cylinders, and a 3-point shot and jumper from Halejian gave them the 5–4 lead early. The Crimson regained their footing and were able to shut down the Elis, charging ahead to a 14-point lead behind the offensive efforts of 6-foot-2-inch sophomore forward Temi Fagbenle. Fagbenle had a career-high 20 points in the game, 10 of which came in the first half.
Trailing 21–7 at the 10:15 mark in the first, the Bulldogs called a time out to regroup and came back prepared to close the gap. Six consecutive points from Vasquez jumpstarted the Elis’ 13–7 run to pull within eight. Two free throws and a layup gave the Crimson a 32-20 advantage heading into halftime.
“As to our slow starts, the only thing I can figure is that my halftime talks must be better than my pregame talks,” head coach Chris Gobrecht said.
The Bulldogs carried their momentum into the second half. Graf drained two 3s in the first two minutes of play, and the Elis continued to challenge the Crimson from outside. A 3-pointer from Messimer brought the score the 47–44 in favor of Harvard, but the Bulldogs were unable pull any closer. Fagbenle scored eight points in the final eight minutes to secure a 67–54 win for the Crimson.
Despite the Elis’ strong performance from beyond the arc, particularly in the second half, they shot only 27.8 percent (20 for 72) from the field. The Bulldogs were only able to score 12 points in the paint compared to 40 for Harvard.
“Looking forward, we need to just make sure we do all the little things right like rebound the ball, hit open shots and play great defense,” Messimer said. “We are a good team. We just need to play our game and work hard all 40 minutes.”
The Bulldogs are back in action next weekend when they host Ivy League rivals Penn and Princeton at home.