The fans at the John J. Lee Amphitheater cheered for the Yale women’s basketball team Saturday night, even after it lost to Brown, 75-72. But despite a tremendous effort against one of the Ivy League’s top teams, the Bulldogs could not fully appreciate one of their best performances of the year — they’ve seen tight games slip away too many times.

“Close won’t cut it here,” Yale head coach Amy Backus said. “We know we can play with our backs against the wall — we did it all last year.”

The Elis (2-11, 0-1 Ivy) trailed the Bears (7-6, 1-0 Ivy) 37-27 at the half, but made a gradual comeback behind 19 second-half points from guard Morgan Richards ’05. Richards finished with a career-high 22 points, gave out four assists and grabbed five rebounds.

Guard Tory Mauseth ’05 was behind the two plays that gave Yale its first second-half lead. First, she threw a cross-court pass to Richards for an alley-oop, then drew a foul on a 3-pointer and made all three shots to put the Bulldogs ahead 60-58 with 6:28 remaining.

Then, Richards took over on the Elis’ next two possessions, feeling it from the floor with a runner and a deep baseline jumper to keep Yale on top 64-63.

“Morgan plays like that every day in practice and needs to play like that in every game because she has the ability to [do it],” Backus said.

The Bulldogs had their last lead at 66-64 before Brown went on an 8-0 run. “There were some key stops on defense we missed [down the stretch],” Richards said.

But the Bulldogs were not out of the game thanks to Mauseth’s hot hand from behind the perimeter. One of the nation’s top 15 in 3-point shooting percentage, Mauseth buried two contested triples in the final 30 seconds — first on a step-back from several feet behind the top of the key and then off a leaner with a Brown defender on her hip.

“[Mauseth] was shooting with confidence even with two or three defenders on her,” forward Lindsay Page ’05 said.

Mauseth’s two buckets kept the Bulldogs and their fans in the game — after each make, the Eli faithful jumped to their feet and even ran into the aisles in excitement.

But the Bears converted on most of their free throws and had a 75-72 lead when the Bulldogs got the ball with under 10 seconds left.

Despite being double-teamed on Yale’s final possession, Mauseth was able to get off another 3-pointer that would have tied the game. But the attempt brushed the front of the rim and Brown got the rebound as time expired.

Like Mauseth’s shot, the Bulldogs’ valiant effort came up short, and Backus and players said they were not content with the overall performance.

“We have to stop getting ourselves into a hole,” Backus said. “We have to learn to set the tempo and play the first half like the last 10 minutes of the game.”

Brown’s front court of Nyeema Mitchell and Holly Robertson took over in the first half. Mitchell finished with a game-high 22 points, while Robertson used her agile footwork to draw several early fouls on Erica Davis ’07, sending Yale’s starting center to the bench.

More minutes from Davis will be a big help to Yale when they get a second crack at Brown this Saturday.

“It’s one of the advantages of the Ivy League — we get to go up against Brown right the next weekend,” Page said. “We know we can beat Brown.”

But before the rematch with Brown, the Bulldogs will host another Bears team Thursday night as they take on Morgan State at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.

“[The Morgan State game] is another chance for us to get more game experience before we see Brown again,” Page said.

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