With an above .500 record in non-conference games this season, the women’s basketball team should head into its Ivy League home opener with confidence.
In its last non-Ivy contest of the year, Yale (8-7, 1-1 Ivy) defeated Iona (4-10) 65-62. Helene Schutrumpf ’03 and Christina Phillips ’04 led the way for the Bulldogs with 15 points each. The team now heads into the heart of its Ivy League schedule, hosting the Brown Bears (3-12, 0-2 Ivy) Saturday.
Against Iona, Yale battled back from a 7-2 deficit to take a 3-point lead into halftime. The Bulldogs then staved off a late second half run by Iona that pulled the Gaels within one with 20 seconds to play. Brynn Gingras ’04 and Schutrumpf then hit two free throws each to seal the victory.
“It was an important game for us to know that we can get the job done in a close game,” head coach Amy Backus said. “I’m pleased with the over-.500 record in the non-conference games.”
Behind Phillips, Schutrumpf and Lindsay Page ’05, who added 13 points of her own, the Bulldogs had an impressive night on offense. Yale shot 41.4 percent from the field compared to the Gael’s 31.7 percent.
Phillips put in another strong performance for the Elis, making five of seven shots from the field, including two 3-pointers. Schutrumpf has been the leading scorer in Yale’s last two games, with last night’s performance coming on the heels of an 18-point outing against Cornell last Saturday.
“Helene really brought a lot of energy and a lot of defensive intensity to the game,” Backus said. “What we need from Helene is consistency. If she can continue to give us double-digit points, we’re just going to be better off.”
Iona’s Megan Cobb was the game’s high scorer with 21 points. But 16 of those points came in the first half, as Yale shut down the all-conference selection in the final 20 minutes.
“I kind of laid down the law at halftime, and [Cobb] only scored one field goal in the second half,” Backus said.
The Bulldogs now get set to square off with the Brown Bears in their Ivy League home opener this weekend. The game is part of a Yale basketball doubleheader at Payne Whitney Gymnasium.
“It’s really important [to win at home],” Caitlin Bair ’02 said. “It’s going to be really exciting because it’s the fourth time this year it will be a doubleheader with the boys, and [Yale is] 6-0 in those games.”
Although the Bears come into Saturday’s contest a dismal 3-12, they have owned the Elis in recent memory and cannot be discounted. Brown won both meetings with Yale last season, taking the game at Yale, 67-55, and the match in Providence, 54-51.
“Brown has been a little bit of a thorn in our side the last couple years,” Backus said. “I always caution our freshmen that any team can beat any other team on a given night in the Ivy League.”
Senior Rada Pavichevich leads the Brown Bears in scoring with 11.9 points per game. Her 17-point performance against Yale last year earned her Ivy League player of the week honors. But Pavichevich is just one of two seniors on the team, and the Bears have struggled with their youth this season.
“They did lose a couple players from last year’s squad that really made a difference,” Backus said. “They’re probably struggling to find their identity.”
Yale will look to utilize their depth and speed against the Bears. But the Elis will be without Morgan Richards ’05, who will miss the weekend action with a fractured foot. Richards has been a key player off the bench this season, averaging 4.5 points per game in 16 minutes of playing time.
On defense, the Elis will try to keep the Bears from breaking out of their recent scoring slump. Brown’s 57.3 points per game is the lowest in the Ancient Eight.
“We want to come out strong and make sure we play all 40 minutes,” Bair said. “If we do that, we’re confident we’ll come away with another win.”