Coming off two strong victories in a row, the Yale women’s basketball team broke this streak at the John J. Lee Amphitheater Monday night against George Washington University in a big way, finding themselves outsized and outplayed.
After a competitive first half that ended with a score of 43-31, the Colonials went on a 21-0 run with 18:41 as the Elis struggled to get shots off, ending the game with a final score of 81-57.
Yale head coach Amy Backus attributes the loss to a drop-off in the team’s offensive execution.
“Because of [GW’s] physical play, our kids backed away from being disciplined on their offensive sets,” she said.
The Elis shot an impressive 6 of 13 from the field in the first half but could not keep up this impressive performance throughout the entire game.
Guard Julie Cohen ’05 said the biggest problem the Bulldogs had was that they forgot to keep moving and screening consistently throughout the game.
“We were turning the ball over a lot–[As a result,] they were getting easy transition baskets,” she said.
Because GW got a lot of easy shots, the Bulldogs could not run as much offensively and had to use more of a set offense than fast breaks. Forward Christina Phillips ’04 said this changed the whole direction of the game.
The team was unable to get the ball inside enough to center Erica Davis ’07, who faced intense defensive pressure throughout the game. Davis — who broke Yale’s single-game scoring record with a 36-point showing against Lafayette on Jan. 7 — was named Ivy League Player of the Week for this week.
Despite a wary Colonial defense, Davis still managed to score a team-high 15 points.
“Erica is definitely learning how to position herself better,” Backus said. “But we were throwing the ball too high, too hard — and had some unnecessary turnovers.”
The GW girls had a distinct size advantage, which Cohen said made it hard for the guards to get good looks down low.
“More ball movement and better penetration would have helped as well,” she said.
The Elis faced a series of defensive challenges from the GW squad. Colonial guard Cathy Joens, returning Atlantic-10 Conference Player of the Year, tallied 18 points on the night. Center Ugo Oha, who was being watched by a WNBA scout in attendance, scored 11 points in just 16 minutes of play. GW’s two big women Valerie Williams and Anna Montanana chipped in an additional 19 points each.
Cohen said that she had a tough time guarding the significantly bigger and quicker Joens.
“She’s got a really quick release — a player of that caliber is going to score,” she said.
The team’s primary defensive effort was geared toward Oha, who the Elis tried to contain by using a 2-3 zone and collapsing down off the point guard.
“We just did the best we could — [but] needed to box out better,” Cohen said.
Phillips said the team did a good job stopping Oha but needed to do a better job on both sides to stop William as well.
With the season well under way, the Bulldogs are finally settling into their positions and getting used to each other. Backus has established a rotation which has become, for the most part, stable in the last three games.
“We’ve gotten to a point where people are more comfortable in predicting when their minutes will come,” Phillips said.
The Bulldogs enter Ivy League play this weekend with a 2-10 non-conference record. They face Brown this Saturday at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.
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