Still in search of its first win of the season, the Yale women’s basketball team will try to end its dry spell tonight against the University of New Hampshire in New Hampshire.
The Elis (0-5) will also be looking to end a much longer draught. The Bulldogs last faced off against the Wildcats (2-3) back in 1995, when New Hampshire won to improve to 7-0 all-time against Yale.
The Wildcats have run into a few potholes early in the season but have fared better than the Elis. New Hampshire lost a close match to Quinnipiac 68-65 but did win an even closer overtime game against Dartmouth, the projected Ivy League champion for 2004-05. The Wildcats also won their last game at the Commerce Bank Wildcat Classic Tournament against Tennessee State in a decisive 66-42 battle.
Despite the slow start, the Elis have a lot of potential waiting to break through.
“We’ve been playing great defense this season,” point guard Tory Mauseth ’05 said. “We have that talent to make some big plays on defense.”
The Yale defense has improved over the past few games. Just last week against Quinnipiac, the Bulldogs blocked 11 shots, including a Yale-record five from forward Julie Mantilla ’07.
Mantilla and center Erica Davis ’07 lead Yale in blocks with eight each for the season so far, while New Hampshire’s leading blocker, point guard Lindsay Adams, has only six.
Davis, who was the team high-scorer in four of her past five games, currently leads the Elis in scoring, with 15 points per game, rebounding, with 7.4 boards per game, and steals, with eight per game.
On offense, the Bulldogs are still looking for improvement. In three of its last five games, Yale has shot under 40 percent from the field and has only averaged 25.9 percent from behind the arc.
The Wildcats have struggled offensively as well. New Hampshire is averaging a mere 32.8 in field goal percentage and 25.4 in three-point percentage.
“[The Wildcats] don’t like to rush things,” Davis said. “They run their offense until they get the lay-up or jump shot they want.”
Some of the biggest threats coming from the Wildcats will be Adams, who is currently six-for-11 from the three-point arc, and freshman point guard Ashley Cerniglia, who hit three three-pointers against Tennessee State for a total of eight for the season.
One of the biggest deciding factors will be the turnover situation, which has been the Elis’ biggest flaw. So far Yale has turned the ball over 142 times this season while the Wildcats have committed only 86 turnovers.
“The turnovers have been a big problem we’ve been working on,” forward Chinenye Okafor ’07 said. “Almost every turnover we’ve made ended in a lay-up from the other team.”