The women’s basketball team has a strong group of upperclassmen leaders, a deep bench filled with talented freshmen, and it leads the Ivy League in both rebounding and scoring margin.

Now all Yale needs is to play 40 minutes of consistent basketball.

The Bulldogs (3-3) travel to Pennsylvania Saturday to take on the Lafayette Leopards (1-5) and try to erase Wednesday’s nine-point loss to Boston University. The Leopards are coming off a 72-69 loss to the Princeton.

Last year, Yale defeated Lafayette by 15, shooting 49 percent from the field. But the Elis are likely to see a different Leopard team this year. Lafayette is under the tutelage of first-year coach Tammy Smith.

“Their system is a little different then what we’ve seen in the past,” Yale assistant coach Terri Schrishuhn said. “They play as hard as they can and get what they can get from that.”

The Leopards are led by sophomore forward Colleen Fitzpatrick. Averaging 15 points and seven rebounds per game, she lit up Princeton for a game-high 21 points.

“If she doesn’t get the points off the moves she makes, she’ll get them off the glass,” Schrishuhn said. “She will outwork every kid on the floor.”

The Bulldogs need to maintain a consistent offense throughout the entire game. Against BU, Yale shot just 27.3 percent from the field in the first half and dug itself into an 18-point hole. In the second half, the Elis improved their shooting percentage to 43.3 percent, but the damage had already been done.

“There was no flow in the offense,” said Christina Phillips ’04, who scored a team-high 11 points against BU. “It was hard for us to find a rhythm. In the second half we were able to make a run, but we should never have been down by that much to begin with.”

A strong first half will be particularly important for the Elis. The team struggles when trailing at halftime — the Bulldogs are just 1-3 when their opponents lead at the break.

Head coach Amy Backus will likely call upon her Washington state trio of Tory Mauseth ’05, Lindsay Page ’05 and Morgan Richards ’05 to provide an offensive spark from the bench. All three players were on the court when Yale stormed back against BU. Mauseth hit a three-pointer 5:39 left to play that tied the game at 54.

Yale will also need a strong offensive performance from starting guard Helene Schutrumpf ’03. In the teams last two games, Schutrumpf has scored just nine points total. Usually a potent offensive threat, Schutrumpf had been averaging 13.5 points in the first four games of the season.

On defense, Yale is second in the Ivy League in steals, blocked shots, and defensive rebounding. The team’s full-court press has been particularly effective in helping cause an average of 20.2 turnovers per game.

But the team also needs to stay out of foul trouble. Against BU, Yale players combined for 27 personal fouls and the Terriers capitalized on those fouls, shooting 87.1 percent from the charity stripe.

After facing Lafayette this weekend, the Elis will return home to take on Albany (1-4) in their last game before winter vacation.

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