Some might say this is just another weekend on the women’s basketball team’s Ivy League schedule. But when the team from Cambridge rolls into town, it is always a little more significant.
Yale (9-8, 2-2 Ivy) faces its most challenging home-stand yet as Dartmouth (5-11, 1-2) and Harvard (11-5, 2-1) come to New Haven this weekend. The Bulldogs, who are coming off of a disappointing 73-57 loss to Brown last Saturday, will match up with Dartmouth tonight and Harvard Saturday night.
“We’re preparing to be more intense than we were at the Brown game because both Harvard and Dartmouth are really intense teams and really physical,” point guard Brynn Gingras ’04 said. “It’s a great challenge for us this weekend.”
Friday’s game at the John J. Lee Amphitheater marks the first time the Big Green will see Ivy action since its 65-58 win at Princeton on Jan. 12. Since then, the team has gone 0-3, falling to New Hampshire, Northeastern and Vermont.
But despite Dartmouth’s recently rocky play, the team cannot be taken lightly. The Big Green was the 1999-2000 Ivy champions and finished second in the league last year even though the squad began Ancient Eight play with an 0-2 record.
Junior Katharine Hanks leads the Big Green on both ends of the court. After missing the games against New Hampshire and Northeastern with a dislocated right knee, the forward returned against Vermont to contribute 19 points and eight rebounds. She ranks second in the Ivy League in scoring with 20.4 points per game and fourth in rebounding with 8.5 boards per game.
In Yale head coach Amy Backus’ three years at the helm, the Elis have never beaten the Big Green, adding extra incentive for the Bulldogs to come out strong this weekend.
“Dartmouth is basically a really aggressive team and really well-disciplined,” Gingras. “They’re quick and athletic.”
Harvard is coming off of an 80-67 victory at Colgate Jan. 28. Picked to finish first by members of the Ivy League media, the Crimson will first travel to Providence to take on Brown Friday before arriving in New Haven Saturday.
Sophomore Hana Peljto and freshman Reka Cserny dominate the Harvard scoring, averaging 21.2 and 15.5 points per game, respectively. They lead a potent Crimson offense that is first in the Ancient Eight in scoring and free-throw and field-goal percentage.
“[Harvard has] a lot of height, and the people that play the three, four and five positions can shoot the three and basically do a lot of things that the guards can do,” Gingras said. “They’re really well-rounded.”
Yale will have to capitalize on every mistake the Crimson players make because there are not likely to be many of them. Harvard leads the league in assist-to-turnover ratio at 0.93. Yale, on the other hand, ranks seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio and turnovers per game, with 21.0 giveaways per contest.
“Hopefully, we’ll be quicker than them [so] our transition will be a big factor in the game,” Gingras said. “I think we’re evenly matched; if we play a really good game, I don’t think there’s any [Harvard weakness] we need to exploit.”
The Bulldogs will look to rebound from last weekend’s loss in Providence. In that game, the Elis came out flat in the first half, digging themselves a 20-point deficit by halftime.
“Obviously, we weren’t happy [with the loss], and it just kind of let us down because we knew we could play better than we did,” Gingras said. “At the same time, it encouraged us to win; we can’t lose another game. As far as Harvard and Dartmouth are concerned, we’re not thinking about our loss to Brown; we’re just trying to learn from it.”