Coming off an impressive upset victory over second place Harvard, the women’s basketball team will look to repeat its performance this weekend.
On Friday, the Elis take on Columbia (7-15, 5-5 Ivy) and face off against Cornell (12-11, 5-5) the next night at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.
The Bulldogs (7-16, 2-8) will be facing the Lions and the Big Red for the second time this season. Two weeks ago, Yale defeated Columbia 62-50 on the road and lost to Cornell 82-57 in Ithaca, N.Y.
“We’re going into this weekend optimistically,” said forward Helene Schutrumpf ’03, who scored a team-high 20 points in the overtime win over Harvard. “We split in our away Columbia-Cornell weekend earlier in the season, so our goal is to get both victories since we now have the home court advantage.”
Last Saturday against Harvard, Yale notched its second Ivy League victory of the season in dramatic fashion. The Bulldogs had led for the entire game before a Cantab three-pointer with nine seconds left sent the game into overtime. Rather than allowing the momentum to swing Harvard’s way, Yale responded by outscoring the Cantabs 17-8 in the extra period.
“When the game went into overtime after we had led the whole way, it was like a punch in the stomach,” head coach Amy Backus said. “For our team to stay focused and win the game, [the] confidence [from that game] should carry us through tight situations from now on.”
The Harvard win was Yale’s best offensive and defensive showing of the season. If the Bulldogs maintain that level of effort on both ends of the court, they have a great chance to pick up two wins this weekend.
Though Yale handled Columbia quite easily two weeks ago, the Lions are looking to avenge their defeat.
“Columbia didn’t play particularly well against us,” Backus said. “I think they came out a little flat after beating Brown the day before.”
Yale will again focus on Columbia’s star forward Shawnee Pickney, who scored 21 points against the Bulldogs in their last matchup. The Elis will attempt to stay in man-to-man coverage for the entire game, in contrast to the zone which they had been previously forced to use.
The last time the two teams met, Yale limited Columbia to 29 percent shooting and forced 25 Lion turnovers. A key for the Bulldogs this weekend will be to continue their strong defensive performances.
“If we can play as well both defensively and offensively as we did against Harvard, then we have a great chance,” said forward Meg Simpson ’02, who scored eight points and pulled down 10 rebounds against the Cantabs. “In the Harvard game, we really played like we were having fun out there, and hopefully that will continue.”
When the Elis take on Cornell, they will look to stay focused on the game for all 40 minutes — in contrast to their last contest where the Big Red outscored them by 24 in the second half.
Additionally, Yale will need to control Cornell forward Deborah Stevens, who came off the bench to score 30 points against the Bulldogs. But since the Cornell loss, Yale has focused more on the defensive side of the ball, and as a result, won two of its last three games.
“We proved that we can beat a team the second time around that we’ve lost to previously [by defeating Harvard],” Schutrumpf said. “Our defensive pressure is what made the difference in the game against Harvard, so if we can sustain that we will be fine.”