With the way the women’s basketball team opened its season against nonconference foes, the start of the Ivy League season could not come soon enough.

In their final tuneup before Brown visits Saturday, the Bulldogs (3-10) dropped a 70-54 decision to Sacred Heart (7-4) last night in the John J. Lee Amphitheater.

But the slate wipes clean with the opening of league play, and the Bulldogs can redeem what has thus far been a disheartening start to a promising season.

“We want to start anew,” said Katherine Mardy ’05. “It’s nice to start over and get a new chance to prove what we have. Now there’s another season to compete for and hope for.”

The Pioneers took a 28-18 lead into the break. But to start the second half, the Elis came out strong, closing the gap to 41-38.

Then, a 10-1 Pioneer run opened the game back up, and Yale could not cut the deficit under six the rest of the game. Bonnie Smith ’04 led the Elis with 18 points.

“They just sort of outhustled us,” Mardy said. “It took us until the last five or six minutes to get on the floor, crash the boards and do what we needed to do. They earned the hustle points.”

The Bulldogs welcomed back team captain Maria Smear ’03 from a five-game absence. Smear saw limited action in the first half and remained on the bench in the second. Her backcourt partner, Brynn Gingras ’04, missed her second consecutive game with a sprained ankle.

Tory Mauseth ’05 and Morgan Richards ’05 filled in admirably for Gingras at the point, but Mardy said the team looks forward to their return at their normal off-guard positions when Gingras returns, which could be Saturday.

For the first 13 games of the season, the Bulldogs have not been able to pinpoint a primary weakness.

Often, the offense and defense do not show up together. And all too often, it has been the intangibles that tilt the balance of a given game.

“We don’t have one thing we need to really focus on,” Mardy said. “It’s just working on the little things you don’t think are a big deal at the time, but they add up and win games for you: hustle stuff, playing with more emotion, coming out strong at the start of each game.”

Conference competition begins this weekend. Although the Bulldogs are glad to conclude their warmup portion of their schedule, they understand all Ivy League teams feel the same.

“We had a bit of a rough preseason,” Aubrey Smith ’04 said. “We do get to start fresh. We’re at home, so we hope to have a home court advantage starting the Ivy League season. A clean slate is a positive, but everybody has one. Everybody is 0-0.”