WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Bulldogs honor seniors

Though the Elis had a chance to disrupt the Ivy League leaderboard this weekend, the women’s basketball team fell to conference leaders Princeton and Penn in its final home games of the year.

The Bulldogs (12–14, 6–6 Ivy) were unable to keep up with the high-powered Princeton (18–7, 9–2) offense on Friday night, falling to the Tigers 85–63. The Elis then lost to Penn (19–6, 9–2) the next evening 62–48.

On Friday, Yale — shooting only 30.3 percent from the field — could not match the shooting prowess of Princeton, which shot 61.1 percent that evening. The Tigers had five players score in double figures, including forwards Alex Wheatley and Kristen Helmstetter and guards Blake Dietrick, Michelle Miller and Amanda Berntsen.

Princeton led the Elis from the beginning, starting off on a 4–0 run. Minutes later with 17:43 remaining in the half, the Bulldogs would close the gap to 7-–6, but that would be the closest Yale would get for the rest of the game. The Tigers offense exploded with a 9–0 run that pushed the lead to double figures in the span of about two and a half minutes. But the offensive spurt did not end there, and the Bulldogs could not find an answer as Princeton continued to extend its lead to 20 points, 31–11 with 9:31 left in the half.

The Elis would never fully recover, heading into the locker room at halftime trailing 48–26. Guard Sarah Halejian ’15 tried her best early in the second half to bring Yale back into the game, scoring the first seven points for the Elis. However, Princeton built on its momentum and had its largest lead of the game with 9:30 remaining, 72–37. The Bulldogs held the Tigers to only one field goal in the final five minutes, but it was too late. Although Yale matched Princeton in the second half with each team scoring 37 points, the Tigers’ first-half surge proved to be too much for the Elis to overcome, leading to an 85–63 defeat.

Halejian had a game-high 18 points, becoming just the 19th player in Yale history to surpass 1,000 career points on the same night when Yale honored captain and guard Janna Graf ’14 for becoming the 18th player in program history to reach 1,000 career points. Graf accomplished the milestone against the University of Kansas on Dec. 29, 2013. Although she had just 53 career points to name before tipoff, guard Whitney Wyckoff ’16 played like a salty veteran, netting a career-high 12 points for the Bulldogs.

The next night, the team celebrated the contributions of its four seniors, Zenab Keita ’14, Alexandra Osborn-Jones ’14, Amanda Tyson ’14 and Graf.

“I’d say it was a pretty surreal night,” Osborn-Jones said in an email. “The whole night, I was constantly thinking ‘This is the last time I’ll be able to do this here, in [Payne Whitney Gymnasium], in front of my friends and family,’ and it just makes you go harder each and every play. It made me realize just how much every game matters, and how you really have no reason but to play your heart out.”

Unfortunately, the Elis were unable to deliver one last home win for the class of 2014 against the Quakers. Both teams shot well from behind the arc, with the Bulldogs scoring at a 50 percent clip (8–16) from downtown and the Quakers posting a 63.2 percent mark (12–19) from long range. In addition to making four more 3-pointers, Penn also got separation on defense.

Penn’s nationally ranked defense did its job on Saturday night, holding Yale to 29.7 percent shooting from the field. The Quakers, on the other hand, shot 42.6 percent from the floor and outrebounded Yale 44–34.

The two teams traded leads in the opening minutes of the game. But once Penn went ahead 9–8 with 15:23 remaining in the first half, it did not relinquish its advantage. The Quakers extended their lead to double digits with 3:43 remaining in the opening half, 31–19, and Yale trailed 36–24 heading into the break.

The distance between the two teams would only continue grow as Penn opened a 22-point lead with 7:10 remaining in the game. The Bulldogs made a valiant effort to close the gap, outscoring the Quakers 13–7 over the last 6:26 of the game, but Yale still came up short and lost by 14.

“We’re just not playing well right now,” head coach Chris Gobrecht said. “I don’t think we’re necessarily better than Penn or Princeton, but I think we’re better than what we’re playing. That’s the discouraging part.”

The Elis will look to end their season on a high note. The Bulldogs can reach the 0.500-mark for the season and finish conference play with a winning record with a road sweep next weekend against Harvard and Dartmouth on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Both games will begin at 7 p.m.

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