The women’s basketball team spent Thanksgiving break on the road as it opened its 2001-2002 season.

Yale went 1-2 in its first three games of the season, falling to Quinnipiac (1-1), 81-67, on Nov. 18 and then placing third in the Coors Classic in Denver with a 61-59 loss to the University of Houston (2-1) and a 81-69 victory over Bowling Green State University (1-3) last weekend.

Against the Bowling Green Falcons, Yale had difficulty scoring in the opening minutes. But after logging their first field goal 4:56 into the game, the Bulldogs were off and running. By halftime, the Elis were up by 9 points.

Although Yale let Bowling Green take a 1-point lead with 14:41 left to play, the team then went on a 12-0 run to break the game open.

“We did a nice job with our defensive pressure,” head coach Amy Backus said. “We were able to control the boards the entire night, [and] we got some great spurts from kids coming off the bench.”

Helene Schutrumpf ’03, coming off a sub-par performance against Houston, led the Bulldogs with 20 points and Bonnie Smith ’04 and Morgan Richards ’05 added 14 and 10 points, respectively.

“We were certainly happy to see [Schutrumpf] return to form, especially since it’s her home crowd,” Backus said. “Helene can score 15-20 points in a game.”

The Elis wound up in the consolation game against Bowling Green after falling to the University of Houston Cougars Friday night by 2 points. Houston later lost to No. 14 University of Colorado in the title game of the Classic.

After two free throws from Schutrumpf pulled Yale within 2 with 4:27 left to play, the Cougars and the Bulldogs traded baskets one more time before the Cougars finally took a 61-59 lead for good.

“It’s just one of those things where we couldn’t get the ball to drop in the last two opportunities,” Backus said. “It was obviously a great confidence booster, because we really played very well as a team against them, and it showed the next night.”

One key reason why the Bulldogs stayed close with the Cougars was their outstanding rebounding. Captain Meg Simpson ’02 led the way, setting a new Coors Classic record for rebounds. Simpson grabbed 17 boards against Bowling Green and helped Yale out-rebound Houston by 10.

“[The Cougars] were much bigger and much more athletic,” Backus said. “We just packed it in with a 2-3 zone, and we did a great job keeping them off the boards.”

Before heading out to Colorado, the Bulldogs opened their season at Quinnipiac with a mediocre performance. The game remained close until the Braves went on a 9-0 run in the second half. With 6:48 to go in the game, the Elis found themselves in a 13-point hole.

“We just got out-hustled that game,” Backus said. “Quinnipiac always does a great job of getting after the basketball and we were a little in shell shock mode. [The game] was a major disappointment after playing so well in the foreign exhibition [against Galatasaray SK of Turkey].”

Schutrumpf again led the way against the Braves with 17 points while freshmen sharpshooter Tory Mauseth ’05 added 15 points in her first game in Yale Blue.

Mauseth stepped into the off-guard position vacated by last season’s scoring leader, Maria Smear ’03. Smear was diagnosed with a stress fracture and will be out of action indefinitely.

“[Smear’s injury] certainly was an impact against Quinnipiac because we found out two days before we were going to play that game,” Backus said. “We had been working on a core group, and that throws you a little bit.”

The Bulldogs now return home to face two in-state rivals. Wednesday Yale tips off with Central Connecticut State University (0-2), and Saturday the team goes up against 1-4 University of Hartford (4:15 p.m., WYBC-AM 1340).