For the first time under head coach Amy Backus, the women’s basketball team won its Ivy League season opener. The 66-53 victory over Columbia Friday night was the highlight of an otherwise rocky break.

Yale (7-7, 1-1 Ivy) split its first two Ivy contests with a heartbreaking 64-62 loss at Cornell (8-7, 2-0) on Saturday and the 13-point win over the Lions (7-8, 1-1). The Bulldogs went 2-4 over vacation, placing second at the Gatorade Holiday Festival in Miami.

Helene Schutrumpf ’03 led the Bulldogs against the Big Red, scoring a game-high 18 points. Yale battled back from a 41-24 halftime deficit only to fall short of the victory on Cornell senior Breean Walas’ game-winning layup at the buzzer. Cornell is the only team that went 2-0 in the Ivy League opening weekend.

Friday at Levien Gym in New York, the Bulldogs began their Ivy campaign with a solid performance. Although the Elis were out-rebounded 62 to 36, sharp 3-point shooting from Christina Phillips ’04 and a 17-point performance by Lindsay Page ’05 allowed Yale to come away with the 13-point victory.

“They’re a tough team and very deep,” Columbia head coach Jay Butler said. “They don’t have any superstars, but their players know their roles.”

At the end of the first half, Phillips drained two key 3-pointers to put the Bulldogs up by 10 points. The Elis’ lead never dropped below 9 points throughout the second half.

“That’s what makes [Phillips] so dangerous,” Backus said. “She can come in on that trail spot and hit that three.”

Columbia relied heavily on outside shooting, attempting 31 shots from behind the arc. Unfortunately for the Lions, only six of those threes fell, and the team shot just 25.7 percent from the field in the game.

“We did a good job defensively on the perimeter,” Backus said. “We’re not used to playing a team that takes so many outside shots.”

The win against Columbia was also the Elis’ first win after dropping three straight contests over the winter recess.

The Bulldogs began their vacation games with their second win this season over the Bowling Green Falcons (4-11) at the Gatorade Holiday Festival in Miami. Page’s second career double-double in the 51-47 victory earned her a spot on the all-tournament team.

But in the championship game, Yale was outmatched by the more athletic Miami Hurricanes (9-6). Only Schutrumpf and Bonnie Smith ’04 reached double-digits, with 10 points each, as the Elis fell to the Hurricanes 75-46.

“It was nice to have a win [against Bowling Green] after five days off,” captain Meg Simpson ’02 said. “[Miami’s] just a good team; it’s a different caliber athlete.”

Yale’s most disappointing showings came against the Sacred Heart Pioneers (6-7) and the Army Black Knights (6-9). At Sacred Heart on Jan. 2, the Elis fell 53-50 to a Pioneer team that has won its last three meetings with the Bulldogs.

At home on Jan. 5, Yale lost in a nail-biter to the Black Knights 71-69.

Despite career highs for Simpson, who had 21 points, and Phillips, who finished with 17 points, the Bulldogs could not complete the comeback from a 14-point deficit in the first half.

“They were two beatable teams and winnable games,” Backus said. “We just didn’t get the job done. We had a couple of kids in shooting slumps, and it showed.”

The Elis did not rely on any one player during their holiday games. Yale had four different leading scorers over the course of the six games. And the team only added to its depth when Morgan Richards ’05 and Maria Smear ’03 returned from injury against Columbia.

Yale has one more non-conference game at Iona (4-9) Tuesday before heading into the heart of Ivy League play. Next weekend, the Bulldogs host Brown (2-13, 0-2 Ivy) in their Ancient Eight home opener.