When Harvard forward Hanna Peljto sent Saturday’s contest into overtime on a three-pointer with nine seconds left in the game, the outlook seemed dim for the women’s basketball team. Yale was 0-2 in overtime games this season and was facing third-place Harvard in Cambridge.
But the Bulldogs responded by jumping all over the Crimson, outscoring their opponent 19-8 in the extra session for a 72-61 victory.
For the second time in consecutive road weekends, Yale (7-16, 2-8 Ivy) dropped its Friday contest, an 82-63 loss to Dartmouth (10-14, 5-4), only to rebound with an impressive win Saturday. Yale notched its second Ivy league victory of the season over the hot Crimson (9-13, 6-3), which had won seven of its last nine games.
“When that last shot went in to send it into overtime, it was another case where we had led the whole way only to see the game tied up at the end,” head coach Amy Backus said. “But our team exploded in overtime. We played with determination and really outplayed Harvard.”
The Crimson jumped out to an early lead on Saturday and was up 8-2 before Yale took notice. But the Bulldogs soon closed the gap and then put themselves in the lead for the remainder of the half.
“Last time we played, they held us to 54 points — we couldn’t do a thing offensively,” Backus said. “But a month later we’re a much different team. The team worked well together to get open shots and that was a key to the victory.”
Leading 29-27 at the break, Yale opened the second half with an 8-2 run. The Bulldogs ran the lead to 41-33 before Harvard began to climb back in the game. The Crimson pulled to within three points at the 6:30 mark, and then the two teams traded baskets before Peljto tied the game at 53 with nine seconds left on the clock.
In overtime, Harvard scored the first basket, but Yale then went on a 5-0 run and took the lead for good. The Bulldogs were 4-4 from the floor and hit 10 free throws in the extra period to outscore the Cantabs by 11.
Throughout the game, Yale limited Harvard to 32 percent shooting, while hitting 47 percent of its own shots.
“The team really made an effort to play great defense all night long,” Backus said. “And when we kept up that effort in overtime, I think it really frustrated Harvard.”
Offensively and defensively, Yale was led by Helene Schutrumpf ’03, who scored 20 points, grabbed five rebounds and recorded two assists, and captain Alyson Miller ’01, who scored 15 points and hauled in six boards.
“We knew we could beat Harvard,” forward Caitlin Bair ’02 said. “We just had to prove it to ourselves that we could win close games.”
The previous night, things did not go so well for the Bulldogs. They were simply unable to stop the Dartmouth offense, which caught fire in the second half. Though Yale trailed by only 10 points at halftime, the Big Green broke the game open in the second half, shooting 55 percent from the floor and an incredible 73 percent from behind the three-point arc.
“I thought we played well in the first half,” Backus said. “But in the second half they did whatever they wanted offensively. It was pretty disheartening.”
On the offensive side of the ball, the Bulldogs were led by Brynn Gingras ’04, who scored 13 points, and Miller, who added 12.
With Saturday’s win, Yale moved up one spot in the Ivy League standings, ahead of eighth-place Princeton. The team hopes to build on this impressive victory as it moves into the last weeks of the season.
“This was a huge win for us,” senior center Lily Glick said. “We finally played the way we should have been playing all season, and hopefully, we’ll continue to do so.”