It may still be early in the season, but the women’s basketball team is already playing with a lot of confidence.
Yale (2-2) goes for its third straight victory Saturday against the University of Hartford (1-4) at the John J. Lee Amphitheater (4:15 p.m., WYBC-AM 1340).
In their last two wins against Bowling Green and Central Connecticut State universities, the Bulldogs have looked both deep and cohesive. Head coach Amy Backus has used virtually every player from her bench, including a talented group of newcomers that has made an immediate impact.
One such player is forward Lindsay Page ’05. The 6-1 freshman has scored in double digits twice this season, including a team-leading 14 points in a 67-38 victory over Central Connecticut Wednesday. Page is currently second on the team in scoring at 8.8 points per game and rebounding with 6.8 boards per game.
Yale’s depth has allowed Backus to juggle her lineups frequently and rely on some of her younger players. At one point against Central Connecticut, three freshmen and two sophomores took the floor for the Bulldogs.
In contrast to the Elis’ youth, the Hartford Hawks are a veteran squad that returns all but one player from last season. The Hawks’ 1-4 record is deceptive. They lost to Dartmouth, picked to finish third in the Ivy League media poll, by only 6 points. Three days earlier, Hartford came close to upsetting No. 20 George Washington University before falling to the Colonials by nine points.
The Hawks boast a powerful senior frontcourt duo in Janeka Lopp and Kenitra Johnson. Johnson, Hartford’s most valuable player last season, leads the team in scoring and rebounding with 13.4 points per game and 8.6 rebounds per game. Lopp was a member of the 2000-01 All-America East Second Team and had a season-high 19 points in the loss to George Washington.
The Bulldogs will have to counter Hartford’s strong forward line with a defensive performance similar to their play against Central Connecticut. In that game, Yale outrebounded the Blue Devils 42-35, grabbing 30 defensive rebounds to Central Connecticut’s 19. Captain Meg Simpson ’02 led the Elis with 11 rebounds. Simpson has grabbed more then 10 rebounds in three out of four games this season.
Yale has also forced its opponents into making 18.1 turnovers per game. The Elis will have to keep up the pressure against the Hawks, who average 21.6 turnovers.