Although the women’s basketball team did not sweep its New York swing this weekend, it collected its second Ivy League win of the season.
After dropping a 61-53 decision in Ithaca, N.Y., to Cornell (9-14, 3-7 Ivy) Friday night, the Bulldogs (5-18, 2-8) responded with a 71-60 win over Columbia (10-13, 3-7) Saturday to complete the season sweep of the Lions.
A defensive adjustment Saturday night earned Yale its first road win of the Ivy League season.
Friday night, the Bulldogs fell into the pattern that has plagued them all season: they found themselves behind by 15 at halftime.
“The trend has been that we’ve come out flat against Cornell,” Aubrey Smith ’04 said. “With Columbia, it’s a confidence issue. We know we’ve beaten them, we know we’ve got their number, and we know they can’t compete with us.”
In order to prevent another sluggish start, coach Amy Backus altered the starting lineup, keeping only Julie Cohen ’04 in the starting five. The defensive-minded starters prevented the Lions from jumping to a lead as Cornell did the previous evening.
“We decided our strategy would be to keep the game under control,” said Smith, who entered the starting lineup with captain Maria Smear ’03, Noel Beagle ’04 and Cassandra Harris ’06. “It made our normal starters think about stepping it up more at the beginning of games. It was just one of those things where we’ll see what happens and then go from there.”
In the win over the Lions, which pushed Backus to the brink of the 200-win plateau, each team shot an identical 23-56 from the floor; the final outcome was determined by the Bulldogs’ superiority behind the 3-point line and foul line. Three players scored in double figures for the Bulldogs: Morgan Richards ’05 (16), Bonnie Smith ’04 (13) and Christina Phillips ’04 (11).
Even coming off the bench, Richards continued her torrid streak. Coming off a season-high 16-point performance against Princeton, she averaged 15.0 points to lead the team in scoring.
“My teammates have been finding me when I’m open, and they’re doing a great job of passing the ball,” Richards said. “I haven’t really been focusing on shooting more or taking it more myself because that’s not what the team needs.”
Unfortunately for the Elis, Cornell’s victory over Brown Saturday night makes Yale the sole occupant of the conference’s basement. Still, the Bulldogs look to build off the momentum from ending their six game losing streak.
“It should be a really positive week,” Richards said. “We practice hard every week, even when we lose, and this win will propel us to work even harder and work together positively.”
With only four games remaining, the Bulldogs are guaranteed a sub-.500 league mark, but they have a score to settle with Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania this upcoming weekend; both teams beat the Elis in overtime in the Lee Amphitheater last weekend. To prevent a similar outcome, Bulldogs must avoid another slow start.
“We’re going to focus on coming out stronger in the beginning,” Aubrey Smith said. “We’ve been a second half team, and we need to concentrate on bringing that same energy right at the outset.”