It’s been a bumpy road for the women’s basketball team this season, leaving the team with the hope that the ride will smooth out in the upcoming weeks.
While Yale, at 11-10 overall and 4-4 in the Ivy League, has already exceeded its win total from last year, the Bulldogs have been plagued by inconsistent play throughout the season. Since the start of conference play, the squad has not been able to string together back-to-back wins.
“The kids are now at least familiar with the competition — they know what to expect,” head coach Amy Backus said. “We need to improve in practice and rely on what we’re doing in practice as training and apply it in games.”
Heading into the second half of Ivy League play, Yale will continue to rely on its strong defense and try to work out the kinks in its offense. Behind nine rebounds per game from captain Meg Simpson ’02, the Bulldogs have amassed the best rebounding margin in the league. The team is also third in the Ancient Eight in points allowed per game.
“Our strength has been our defense,” Simpson said. “We have goals to keep our opponents under a certain amount of points and keep their percentage down, and overall we’ve been reaching those goals.”
On offense, the Elis have used their depth, getting production from a number of different players. Helene Schutrumpf ’03 leads the team in scoring with 10.5 points per game, and Simpson and Christina Phillips ’04 have made strong contributions from the paint all season.
A fiery freshman class has also significantly added to the team’s scoring ability. Lindsay Page ’05, Tory Mauseth ’05 and Morgan Richards ’05 have all created roles for themselves in the Bulldog lineup. The high point for the freshman class came on Dec. 11 against Albany when Page set a new school record with 35 points in the game.
But the Bulldogs are averaging 19.4 turnovers per game, many of which come from mental errors. At Brown on Jan. 26, Yale committed 31 turnovers, 20 of which came in the second half. Yale often seems perplexed as to why it has so much trouble keeping possession of the basketball.
“We just don’t make the right decisions,” Bonnie Smith ’04 said. “If we have any pressure on us, we don’t handle it the right way.”
The Elis have also recently struggled from the free-throw line. The team’s 65.1 free-throw percentage is the second lowest in the Ancient Eight. Key misses from the charity stripe cost the Bulldogs greatly in their last two games.
“It’s something that we need to fix very quickly,” Backus said. “You’re not going to win many close games if you don’t make your free throws.”
With six Ivy games left to play, it is crucial for Yale to come out strong in every contest because it will need a near-perfect record down the stretch for a shot at the title.