WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Bulldogs prepare for Sacred Heart

On Saturday, the women’s basketball team will look to continue its season-opening winning streak and avenge last season’s loss to Sacred Heart.

Despite a dominant home opener against UMass-Lowell (0–2. 0–0 America East) on Tuesday, several Bulldog players said that they hope to improve on that performance in preparation for the game against the Pioneers (0–1, 0–0 NEC). Sacred Heart was picked to finish second in the Northeast Conference Preseason Poll this year following last season’s appearance in the WNIT. Last year, the Pioneers finished 21–9 overall with a 13–5 conference record.

Yale’s Tuesday game against the River Hawks featured sharp shooting from the Elis (2–0, 0–0 Ivy) in the second half, but it also included 21 Bulldog turnovers and poor defense from Yale.

“We have to stop turning the ball over,” head coach Chris Gobrecht said. “We have to be more disciplined about both our defense and our passing. And those are two things that we talk about a lot.”

The team has a few days of practice to work out the kinks before stepping on the court again for another competition. Captain and guard Janna Graf ’17 added that she expects the team to play with more poise and and place an increased focus on pivoting, ball faking and playing as a team. Furthermore, Graf said, the team will emphasize defense to limit the other team to fewer points.

Although there were moments of sloppy play, Yale produced a few bright spots in its victory. The Bulldogs received a standout performance from guard Sarah Halejian ’15, who led the Elis with 20 points in 28 minutes. Forward Meredith Boardman ’16 recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

The Bulldogs remain a young team, a fact emphasized by the number of underclassmen that contributed significant minutes from the bench on Tuesday. Three of the five players who scored in double digits are sophomores or freshmen.

“I think we need to realize that each game is an opportunity to get better,” forward Alezandra Osborn-Jones ’14 said. “And [yesterday] we lucked out because we were the better team. We have to remember each game is about getting better.”

The Elis have a tough task ahead of them in Sacred Heart, who lost to St. John’s 77–72 in overtime in last Friday’s season opener. Gabrielle Washington, who drained 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the Pioneers’ loss, may be an especially tough mark for Yale. Washington was named to the Northeast Conference Preseason Team after finishing third in the league in scoring following the 2012–2013 season.

The depth of the two teams’ rosters may prove to be a key factor this weekend. Sacred Heart used a nine-player rotation in its first game, while Yale used 12 players against Monmouth and 13 against UMass-Lowell.

The Elis lost at Sacred Heart last season, 67–62. This weekend, the Bulldogs will try to end the Pioneers’ streak of 10 straight wins, a run that dates back to 1979.

“We’re all really fired up to play Sacred Heart again because we lost to them last year by five points and it was a really back and forth game,” center Emmy Allen ’16 said.

Yale tips off against Sacred Heart at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday.

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