For the first time since the 1999-2000 season, the women’s basketball team has a three-game winning streak.
Yale (3-2) won in dramatic fashion Saturday against the University of Hartford (1-5). Behind 10-point efforts from freshmen Lindsay Page and Morgan Richards, the Bulldogs came back from an 8-point deficit midway through the second period to beat the Hawks 48-47.
“It wasn’t a very pretty win, but it was a win,” head coach Amy Backus said.
The Elis have not lost to the Hawks during Backus’ three-year tenure.
“It’s a challenge every time we play Yale,” said Hartford head coach Jennifer Rizzotti, a former national player of the year and two-time All-American for the University of Connecticut. “We never underestimate [Yale’s] effort.”
With 1:12 left to play in the game and the score tied at 46, Hartford senior Kenitra Johnson went to the line and made just one of two crucial free throws. Richards then scored a layup to reclaim the lead for the Bulldogs.
On the following possession, a scramble for the ball ran the clock down to just 0.6 seconds. Although Rizzotti disputed the amount of time remaining, the Hawks inbounded the ball with under a second left and were unable to get a shot off.
“I honestly didn’t see it,” Backus said. “Whatever the refs decided was the right thing.”
Yale jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, but the Hawks countered with an 8-0 run. By halftime, Yale found itself down 25-22.
“They played very aggressive defense,” Backus said. “We had trouble getting into the flow of our offense.”
To spark her team’s offense, Backus frequently changed the lineup on the court. She moved point guard Brynn Gingras ’04 to the off-guard position and placed Richards at the helm of the offense. The move was highly successful as Richards finished the game with a team-high eight rebounds and three assists.
Richards is just one of a string of freshmen to shine in these early-season games. Page’s 10 points marks the second time she has led the team in scoring this season.
“Morgan played with such poise,” Backus said. “She just took [the game] over. Lindsay played her consistent and solid game for us. — Some games you just go with who’s getting it done.”
Richards and Page have made a smooth transition from high school into Eli blue.
“The team is really receptive to the things that I say,” Richards said. “It makes it really easy. It’s not like one person’s directing [the offense]. It’s the whole team moving as a unit.”
Page concurred, noting that the freshmen have been easily integrated into the team.
“The whole team has been so encouraging and so supportive, it’s just been fun,” Page said.
Along with her fellow forwards, Page had the difficult task of shutting down Johnson, who led Hartford in scoring with 22 points.
“Our inside players had a tough assignment with Johnson,” Backus said. “[Hartford] does a good job of isolating her.”
Rizzotti, however, wished her team had showed more balanced scoring. Only one other Hartford player, Dorcas Miller, was in double-digits. Miller finished the game with 12 points.
“We need to be able to win and lose as a team,” Rizzotti said. “We lost tonight trying to rely on one individual too much. [Johnson] was just phenomenal. She tried to take over the game. At the same time, she just tried to do a little too much.”
Yale will go for its fourth victory in a row when it takes on Boston University (5-1) Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. The Bulldogs will try to build on the confidence gained from Saturday’s come-from-behind victory.
“It’s important for this team to win close games,” Backus said, “because in the Ivy League, every game is going to be close.”