As the Ivy League season approaches its final weekend, the women’s basketball team is playing its best basketball of the year.
The Bulldogs (8-17, 3-9 Ivy) will travel to Princeton (1-23, 1-10) tonight and Pennsylvania (19-5, 11-0) tomorrow in hopes of finishing the season on a high note.
“It should be an interesting weekend,” head coach Amy Backus said. “We’ve had so many close games this year, we just want to prove we’re capable of playing at the level of a team like Penn.”
Yale, which has won three of its last five games, will be taking on the last-place Tigers and league-leading Quakers for the second time this season. The first time around, the Bulldogs took both squads to overtime before falling 61-60 to Princeton and 92-80 to Penn.
Yale has improved dramatically since those two losses, though, and will bring a much different team to these two match-ups. And while Penn has clinched the Ivy League crown, the Bulldogs will still enter the games with motivation — avenging their earlier loss to Princeton and defeating Penn, who currently sports the longest winning streak in Division I women’s basketball at 18.
“I think that everyone realizes the season is basically over, but this weekend we should have two goals for the two teams,” point guard Sara Perkins ’01 said. “The first should be simply to beat Princeton, and the second is to beat Penn and end their win streak.”
The Bulldogs remain the only team Princeton has defeated this season, so Yale will be looking to atone for the one-point loss it suffered several weeks ago.
“We have to redeem ourselves against Princeton,” said Helene Schutrumpf ’02, who has led the Bulldogs’ resurgence by scoring 20 points in two of the past three games. “The game we lost to them earlier in the season was a poor showing of our team’s capabilities. We need to go out there and prove that we are the better team.”
Yale will need to do a better job defending Princeton’s center, Maureen Lane, who victimized the Bulldogs to the tune of 27 points, including seven three-pointers, in their last meeting. But Yale has recently been a much better defensive squad, and the Bulldogs current man-to-man defense should help in cutting down on the Tigers’ three point shooting.
In facing Penn, the Bulldogs will face a very tough task. The Quakers have not lost since Dec. 12 and have been very tough in close ballgames. Additionally, Penn has the all-time Ivy League leading scorer in forward Diana Caramanico, who scored 21 points against Yale earlier this season.
“We played a close game against them last time, only losing in overtime,” Schutrumpf said. “But we are a better team now and will give them good competition.”
Yale certainly is a better squad at this point in the season, but it will need a very strong performance to defeat Penn. Last season, the Bulldogs defeated the Quakers in the final game of the year, and will look to repeat that performance on Saturday.
“[In order to win] we’ll need continued hard work and attention to detail,” Backus said. “And that this is the last weekend of the season should be the impetus for the team to leave it all on the floor.”