WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Bulldogs Set For Conference Play

The women’s basketball team finished its nonconference schedule this past week, concluding a six-game stretch between Dec. 7 and Jan. 7 during which it posted a 2–4 mark.

“I think we all wish there were a few more games,” head coach Chris Gobrecht said in an email. “But it is time to jump into Ivy play and ready or not, here we come.”

Prior to exams, the Elis (6–8, 0–0 Ivy) hosted Army, losing 68–56, and Georgetown, falling 66–65.

Against the Black Knights (11–4, 3–1 Patriot), Yale started off strong, leading 12–11 with just under 12 minutes to play in the first half. Army, however, closed the half on a 23–7 run that put Yale in a 34–19 hole at the break. The Elis outscored the Black Knights 16–4 over the last 3:42, but the lead proved too daunting for the Bulldogs to overcome, bringing the final score to 68–56.

Facing the Hoyas (7–9, 1–3 Big East), guard Sarah Halejian ’15 had a big night, finishing with a season-high 27 points. She and guard Nyasha Sarju ’16 carried the Elis, scoring 25 of Yale’s 26 points in the first half as the Bulldogs trailed 32–26.

Georgetown extended the lead to 52–40 with 10 minutes remaining in the contest. But the Elis rallied to come to within three with 55 seconds left after a three pointer made by captain and guard Janna Graf ’14. Halejian was fouled on a three-point attempt with two seconds left in the game, but was only able to convert two of the three free throws, resulting in the final score 66–65.

On Dec. 19, the Bulldogs closed their home stand with a dominating win against Saint Peter’s (2–12, 1–4 MAAC), defeating the Peacocks 66–35. Ten different players scored for the Elis, who used a balanced attack to overwhelm Saint Peter’s, forcing the team into 26 turnovers, off of which Yale scored 35 points.

Following a brief holiday break, the Bulldogs returned to action against Kansas (8–8, 1–2 Big 12) to begin a four-game road swing. Graf, returning to her home state, scored her 1,000th career point for the Elis, the 18th player to do so in Yale women’s basketball history.

The Bulldogs shot a season high 57.1 percent from three-point range, but that figure was still short of the 57.7 percent shooting performance from the Jayhawks. Kansas led the Elis from the start and were relentless, jumping out to a 45–26 lead at halftime. The Bulldogs came to within 11 points with 5:07 remaining in the game, trailing 67–56 following a Graf three pointer, but Kansas pulled away again to hold on for a 79–63 win.

“The Georgetown and Kansas games showed that we are capable of playing with anyone,” Halejian said in an email.

The Elis returned to the court to face Maine (8–8, 2–1 America East) on Jan. 5, defeating the Black Bears 86–85 on a buzzer-beater by Sarju. Yale led at the half, 47–41, and the Bulldogs continued to lead throughout the second half until the waning minutes. The Black Bears tied the game at 81 with 2:41 remaining and took the lead on a layup with 14 seconds left in the game. But despite relinquishing the lead, the Elis’ late deficit served only to set up Sarju’s game-winning layup as time expired.

The Elis finished their nonconference schedule against New Hampshire (7–7, 1–0 America East) on Tuesday. The Bulldogs fell to the Wildcats 58–53 following a slow start, trailing 33–18 at the half. Yale was never able to crawl all the way back, despite narrowing the gap to 55–53 with 11 seconds remaining.

“Our tough nonconference schedule has set us up well for the competitive Ivy League games we will have,” Halejian said. “Each game was a learning experience that will increase our chances of being successful in the next 14 games.”

The Elis finished the first half of their season at 6–8 and will now move on to Ivy League play. Yale will face Brown to open its conference schedule this Friday in Providence, R.I.

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