After going into the locker room with a double-digit deficit at halftime, the Yale women’s basketball team regrouped and put together an unlikely rally. But on Sacred Heart’s doorstep, the Bulldogs faltered, finally coming up short 79-68.
Down by 42-22 at the half on Wednesday night, the Elis (0-5) cut the Pioneer lead to only four after the Elis went on an 18-2 run at the start of the second half. But with more than ample time to complete the comeback, the Elis fell into another scoring drought and the opportunity for their first win of the season slipped away.
One of the contributing factors to the differences in the two halves was the Sacred Heart full-court press. The Pioneers forced numerous Bulldog turnovers with 94 feet of defensive pressure in the first half but backed off after the break.
“[Sacred Heart’s] pressure caused our players to become hesitant,” Yale head coach Amy Backus said. “We weren’t strong with the ball — and it turned into a layup fest for Sacred Heart.”
The Pioneers finished the game with 16 steals — 12 more than the Bulldogs.
Backus and guard Tory Mauseth ’05 said practices need to be more intense for the Elis to respond better to pressure defense in the future.
“We need to be taking it harder to each other in practice,” Mauseth said.
Lack of intensity and inconsistent scoring have led Backus to mix up the rotation from game to game.
“[The rotation changes have been] a response to inconsistency, to find someone willing to play hard,” Backus said.
In the Bulldogs’ first five games, individuals’ scoring and playing time have varied greatly. Mauseth led Yale in scoring in the first two games, while center Erica Davis ’07 followed close behind. But against Sacred Heart, both players scored only one point each in a combined total of 21 minutes.
Forward Christina Phillips ’04, last year’s team leading scorer, had a team-high in scoring for the first time this season at Sacred Heart. In 32 minutes, the inside-outside threat scored 22 points and went an impressive 12-of-13 from the free-throw line.
Center Aubrey Smith ’04, who came off the bench for a career-high 10 points, said she saw advantages and disadvantages to relying on multiple players to step up on offense.
“It’s a good thing because if one person is off, we have 13 other people who can step up and score,” Smith said. “The flip side is that in late-game situations we don’t have a go-to-player.”
Besides Smith, Eleanor Miller ’07 also came off the bench for a breakout performance. The freshman scored six points in 18 minutes and earned the praise of her teammates.
“[Eleanor Miller] definitely stepped up and provided the intensity we needed for that game,” captain Brynn Gingras ’04 said.
While Miller received a season-high in minutes played, veteran and returning starter Lindsay Page ’05 saw only nine minutes on the court. Page was third in scoring last year with 10.5 points per game and set a Yale record with 35 points against Albany on Dec. 11, 2001. Still, Page has averaged only 8.5 minutes off the bench in Yale’s last three games.
“We’re working hard to try to find [Page] minutes because she’s a very good scorer,” Backus said. “We had thought with improved size [from] our freshmen we could move Lindsay to the [small forward] but that may not be panning out.”
Part of the reason, Backus said, is that the coaching staff is still looking for Page to become a better rebounder.
As the Bulldogs prepare for their Saturday game at Syracuse University, Backus said the fluctuations in the rotation have been necessary but not ideal.
“[Changing the rotation] is not what we want to do, but if play is inconsistent, it’s difficult to get a proper rotation.”
Although it may not be the best time for the struggling Bulldogs to play a strong Div. I program on the road, a competitive game against the Orangemen could help Yale move on from its winless start.
“Everything we do right now, we try to do to get ready as a team for the Ivy League [season],” Backus said. “To get a win right now on the road against Syracuse would be a [boost] for our confidence.”
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