This weekend provided a lesson in gravity for the women’s basketball team — sometimes the shots fall, and sometimes they don’t.
Yale (11-10, 4-4 Ivy) split its two-game roadtrip, losing to Penn (8-12, 4-3 Ivy), 68-65, and then defeating Princeton (8-12, 2-5 Ivy) in overtime, 85-80.
The Bulldogs, who were hoping to win both contests, still believe they are in the thick of the Ivy League title race despite losing to the Quakers.
“We were expecting to get a sweep over the weekend, so it was a little disappointing,” Bonnie Smith ’04 said. “[However], we came away from the weekend happy to have been resilient and to have bounced back from the Penn game.”
Saturday night against Princeton, Smith had a team and career-high 16 points. Smith, who came into the game averaging 5 points in 12.9 minutes of play, went 6 for 8 from the field, including 2 for 3 from the 3-point line.
“We had intended on giving Bonnie some more consistent minutes because she has been one of our most efficient scorers,” head coach Amy Backus said. “And she needs a little more consistency in the minutes to continue that productivity.”
Smith scored 5 of her points in a key stretch toward the end of the second half, putting Yale up 63-60 with under three minutes to play. But with 15 seconds left and the Elis up 67-64, Princeton junior Allison Cahill drained a 3-pointer that sent the game into overtime.
Despite 7 points from Cahill in the extra period, the Bulldogs out-shot the Tigers behind a strong effort by captain Meg Simpson ’02. The Elis scored 18 points in the extra five minutes, shooting 71.4 percent from the field. Simpson finished the game with 9 points and 6 rebounds.
“Meg was ticked off that the game went into overtime,” Backus said. “I challenged her to use that anger in a productive way and she did.”
The Elis also got double-digit scoring from Helene Schutrumpf ’03 and Christina Phillips ’04, with 15 and 13 points, respectively. Kate Merker ’02 added a season-high 9 points.
While the Bulldogs were able to stave off the Tigers in the final minutes, the same was not true the previous night at Penn. Yale got off to a rocky start, committing 14 turnovers in the first 15 minutes of the game, leading to a 24-10 deficit midway through the first half.
But the Elis came storming back in the second half, opening up a 10-point lead with under 11 minutes to go. The Quakers, however, would not be denied victory as freshman Katie Kilker scored 9 of her 15 points in the final four minutes of play. Finally, her classmate, Karen Habrukowich, drained a three with 1:17 to play that gave Penn the lead for good.
“That was an excruciatingly painful game, especially because our last six games with Penn have been 3-point games or overtime games,” Backus said. “It was especially painful because we built a 10-point lead, but we weren’t playing for the win.”
Penn’s Jewel Clark led all scorers with 18 points, while Schutrumpf led the Bulldogs with 15 points of her own. Schutrumpf has been the Elis’ top scorer in five out of the team’s last eight games.
“I feel like I create a lot for myself by playing good defense,” Schutrumpf said. “Going to the basket is how I score all my points. I try to take what the defense gives me. When we need a basket, I feel confident with the ball in my hands.”
The Bulldogs were plagued all weekend by poor free throw shooting and turnovers. Yale was 13 of 21 from the charity stripe against Penn and 16 of 33 against Princeton. The squad also logged 20 turnovers in each contest.
“We’re all good free throw shooters,” Smith said. “In practice, we all make our free throws. It’s just a mental thing, its something we need to get over.”
Backus was equally confused about her team’s propensity for turnovers.
“If I had an answer for it, we’d be fixing it.” Backus said. “It’s a combination of things, of people not being mentally focused or trying to go a little bit too fast. Our turnovers are coming from all sorts of stuff.”
The Bulldogs have now faced every team in the Ivy League and head into their second set of match-ups against the Ancient Eight teams.
“I’d say [so far] we’re not doing as well as we would like,” Schutrumpf said. “We have had a couple of bad stretches, games that we either start out and let the other team get a big lead on us and then fight our way back or [games in which] in the middle of the game we have a lapse and let them get ahead.”
Nevertheless, Yale is optimistic about the second half of the Ivy season.
“We’re not mathematically out of the hunt,” Backus said. “Yes, we made it more difficult for us, but we’re not out of it yet.”
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