WOMEN’S BASKETBALL | Cornell visits for Elis’ Senior Night

The women’s basketball team currently sits in fourth place in the Ivy League, four-and-a-half games behind the leading Princeton Tigers.
The women’s basketball team currently sits in fourth place in the Ivy League, four-and-a-half games behind the leading Princeton Tigers. Photo by Maria Zepeda.

The women’s basketball team will bid farewell to its seniors this weekend, as the Bulldogs face Columbia and Cornell in their final home games of the season at John J. Lee Amphitheater.

Yale (10–14, 5–5 Ivy) is currently fourth in the Ivy League standings and is looking to repeat its Feb. 15 and 16 victories over Cornell (11–12, 3–6 Ivy) and Columbia (3–20, 1–8 Ivy), respectively. The Elis will also celebrate Senior Night as they take on the Big Red on Saturday.

“Our seniors have given a lot to this team, and we need to make sure we play the best we possibly can for each other and for them,” guard Nyasha Sarju ’16 said. “We have to focus on the things we have been working on, such as rebounding, communicating and playing together.”

Although the Bulldogs emerged victorious in a 67–58 matchup over Cornell in the teams’ last meeting two weeks ago, Big Red guard Allyson DiMagno tested Yale’s interior defense and finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds. DiMagno is the Ivy League’s top rebounder, averaging 11.3 boards per game.

“Beating Columbia and Cornell just comes down to playing our game and playing to our strengths,” captain Allie Messimer ’13 said. “We can beat both of these teams, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t be work.”

The Elis will be heavily reliant on their outside shooting with guards Messimer and Sarah Halejian ’15 averaging over 39 percent from beyond the arc this season. Both rank in the top five amongst Ivy League 3-point shooters.

Like Cornell, Columbia suffered a loss against the Bulldogs earlier in conference play, the first in a string of three straight losses amidst a disappointing season. The Lions have only won one of their past 13 games and sit in last place in the Ivy League. In the last matchup between the teams, the Bulldogs held Columbia to 29 percent from the field and only 14 percent from the 3-point line.

The Bulldogs have the upper hand going into both games this weekend, boasting a 37.2 percent field-goal average and a 73.2 percent free-throw average. According to Megan Vasquez ’13, the team plans to come out of this weekend with two wins.

“I think it’s important that we finish the season off strong,” Vasquez said. “I am looking forward to feeling the love, support and excitement from the Yale fans on Senior Night.”

The fourth-place Elis are currently two-and-a-half games behind second-place Penn and four-and-a-half games behind first-place Princeton in the conference. The Tigers are expected to take their third straight conference title, while the Quakers will battle with third-place Harvard for second place and an automatic Women’s National Invitational Tournament bid. The Elis still have a mathematical chance to finish in second place in the league, but they will likely need to defeat both Princeton and Penn on the road in the final week of the season to have any hope of playing in the postseason.

“It is never too late to improve,” Messimer said. “I want this team to remember this season by our last few games.”

The Bulldogs will host Columbia tonight at 7 p.m., followed by a matchup with Cornell on Saturday at 6 p

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