Tuesday night against Quinnipiac, an early lead evaporated into a four-point loss for the women’s basketball team — but a loss nowhere near as embarrassing as last year’s Quinnipiac fiasco.

With the loss, the Bulldogs fell to 1-4 on the young season. The 77-73 finish at John J. Lee Amphitheater underscored the determination by many Bulldog upperclassmen to avenge last year’s game.

“It was a very embarrassing game last year, and we didn’t want that to happen again,” captain Maria Smear ’03 said. “They beat us handily.”

Smear led the Elis Tuesday with 14 points, while Tory Mauseth ’05 added 11 of her own, despite being in foul trouble for much of the latter part of the game.

Midway through the second half, the Elis had squandered their three-point halftime lead and were locked in a 63-63 tie with the Bobcats.

The second half had been a seesaw struggle with neither team ever having led by more than three points, there was no indication that one team would be able to pull away.

But over the next six minutes, Quinnipiac opened up a 74-63 lead, apparently ending the Bulldogs’ chances.

Still, coming out of a timeout with three minutes remaining, the Elis mounted a charge of their own. Mauseth was fouled shooting a 3-pointer from the left wing, and still managed to bank home her off-balance shot. The subsequent free throw completed the rare 4-point play, and the Bulldogs trailed 74-67.

After a defensive stop, Smear rebounded an air ball on the baseline, dribbled to the left corner and drained another three, and suddenly the Bulldogs had cut the deficit to four. A jumper in the lane by Mauseth closed the gap to two with a little under a minute remaining.

The teams then traded free throws, with Quinnipiac’s Megan Rooney and Yale’s Brynn Gingras ’04 each hitting one shot. The Bulldogs then needed a stop to give themselves a chance for a tie or the win, but Rooney banked home a jump shot from just inside the foul line to give Quinnipiac the final four-point cushion.

Quinnipiac’s 23 offensive rebounds were the key stat of the game, as the Bobcats often had two or more shots per possession. Bobcat freshman Megan Smith had nine rebounds, all on the offensive glass, and nine of Ashlee Kelly’s game-high 16 rebounds were on the offensive end. The Bobcats posted a 42-34 overall rebounding edge.

Smear said the rebounding deficit was one major reason for the loss.

“They crashed really hard; they were really aggressive,” Smear said.

She added that in preparation for the next game, rebounding would be a main focus during practice.

“We’ll definitely have to be aggressive, both in defensive and offensive rebounds,” Smear said.

As if the severe rebounding deficit wasn’t enough, foul trouble also plagued the Elis in the second half. With 12 minutes remaining, Yale was already over the limit, and the Bobcats made the Bulldogs pay, hitting 20 of their 27 free throw attempts.

Friday, Yale travels to Northwestern for the first round of the Mildred and Roger L. White Invitational against the host Wildcats.

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