The Yale women’s basketball team will be facing two difficult road matchups this weekend as they head south to face Penn and Princeton.
Yale (10–10, 4–2 Ivy) sits in fourth place in the Ivy League conference, just below both Penn (14–5, 4–1) and Princeton (13–6, 4–1), which are tied for second in the Ancient Eight below first-place Harvard.
“For next weekend, the goal is definitely to come out of the road trip with a sweep,” said guard Sarah Halejian ’15. “It is definitely possible if we play those games with the mentality that we can compete with two of the top teams in the League.”
The Bulldogs swept last season’s series against Penn, but the Quakers have a strong lineup and have defeated a number of opponents the Elis have lost to, including Miami, Army, Cornell and Harvard.
Penn has played well against conference opponents so far this season, with the Quakers’ only loss coming against Princeton in their conference opener. Penn is scoring an average of 65.5 points per game on 40.4 percent shooting from the field. The Bulldogs rank ahead of the Quakers, scoring 67.2 points per game, but the Elis are making just 38.7 percent of their shots. Yale holds the advantage when it comes to shooting from behind the arc, where the Bulldogs convert 34.9 percent of their threes compared to 30.3 percent for the Quakers.
The two teams will have to compete for rebounds all game, as both teams are averaging about 40 per game. Penn also has the top defense in the Ivy League, allowing just 57.9 per game to its opponents.
The Elis will need to look out for guard Alyssa Baron, center Sydney Stipanovich, and forward Karen Bonenberger, who are all averaging double figures. Stipanovich also leads the team with 7.8 rebounds per game.
So far this season, Penn has gone 13–0 when scoring 60 points or more in a game, while posting a record of 1–5 when scoring under that figure. The Bulldogs will look to their defense to stop Penn’s current six game winning streak in Philadelphia on Valentine’s Day.
During the second half of its road trip, Yale will look to defeat Princeton, the only team to have defeated Penn so far this year. Princeton’s only Ivy League loss came against Harvard two weeks ago. The Tigers are also on a three-game winning streak, which the Bulldogs will attempt to halt during Princeton’s Play Pink game.
The Elis have lost the last nine meetings to Princeton, which currently leads the conference in a number of categories, including scoring offense with 73.8 points per game, and field goal percentage, as the Tigers shoot a scorching 47.2 percent from the floor.
The Bulldogs will also need to look out for three Tigers in particular: guard Blake Dietrick, guard Michelle Miller and forward Kristen Helmstetter, who are all averaging at least 10 points per game. Helmstetter also leads the Tigers with 6.2 rebounds per game.
“February is usually when we play our best, so we are excited for [this] weekend ,which is likely to be the toughest weekend to date,” head coach Chris Gobrecht said. “We will battle and the details will improve.”
The Bulldogs travel to Penn on Friday and Princeton on Saturday, tipping off at 7:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., respectively.