It wasn’t the weekend the women’s basketball team was hoping for.
The Bulldogs managed to defeat Columbia by score of 76-63 Friday at the John J. Lee Amphitheater, but fell 67-66 to Cornell after what appeared to be a blatant no-call the following night.
Yale (8-17, 3-9 Ivy) continued its streak of impressive play that began two weekends ago with an overtime upset of Harvard by jumping all over Columbia from the game’s outset.
“We executed our game plan really well [against Columbia],” head coach Amy Backus said. “Especially in the first 10 minutes, we got the ball inside early and were able score.”
Playing their offense to perfection, the Bulldogs raced out to a 23-6 lead over Lions midway through the first half. Keeping with its man-to-man defense, Yale scored 20 points off 11 Columbia turnovers in the first half, blowing away the Lions’ five points off Yale turnovers. The Bulldogs also dominated the boards, scoring twice as many points in the paint as their opponent.
“We got off to a really good start by playing good team defense and that just set the tone for the rest of the game,” said forward Maria Smear ’03, who scored 15 points in the victory. “Our post players played well, and we were able to get good shots by making the extra pass.”
Columbia managed to fight its way back into the game towards the end of the first half, pulling within four points with two minutes to go before halftime. But the Bulldogs used 65 percent shooting in the second half to open up a lead that reached 20 points midway through the second half. Columbia did manage to make things interesting, but never brought the lead below nine.
Helene Schutrumpf ’03 led the Elis’ three double-figure shooters with 21 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Friday’s game was her second consecutive 20-point game.
“I was feeling very comfortable with my ability to score within our offense,” Schutrumpf said. “They started to close in on our lead in the second half — but our offensive composure in handling the ball and making our free throws made the difference and allowed us to sustain the lead in the end.”
The following night, however, the difference came from a different source.
Against Cornell, Yale’s offense was clicking for the third game in a row. The Bulldogs shot 48 percent from the floor, but were matched shot for shot by the Big Red, and the first half ended with the score notched at 32.
Yale’s offense was led by Smear’s 26 points, which included many clutch three-pointers.
“After struggling with my shot the last few games I put in a lot of extra practice this week,” Smear said. “I really wanted to win our last two home games for the seniors because they have done so much for this team and deserve to go out as winners.”
The second half continued the same way as the first, as the lead changed hands six times. Neither team was able to establish a solid edge over the other, as both offenses continued to execute well.
“It was a scrappy game,” Cornell head coach Marnie Dacko said. “But we knew it was senior night for [Yale], and we expected them to fight hard.”
As time wound down, Cornell held a two-point lead. But with 55 seconds remaining Smear hit her seventh three-pointer of the game to put Yale up by one. Cornell scored on its next trip down the floor to take a one-point lead with 23 seconds remaining.
After a Cornell time out, Sara Perkins ’01 brought the ball down the court, and after several passes got the ball to team captain Alyson Miller ’01 in the paint with several seconds remaining. Miller appeared to be fouled quite blatantly when she went up for her shot, but no foul was called, and the shot missed mark as time expired.
“You never want to leave the game to the officials,” Backus said. “We missed some critical box-outs and rebounds at end that should have taken care of the game.”
Despite the disappointing outcome on Saturday, the team will travel to Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania next weekend with some momentum. The team has won three of its last five games.
“We’ve learned a lot from these close games — how critical the small plays are,” Backus said. “Whether it’s this year or next, hopefully we’ll remember how important every rebound or box-out is.”
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