On Yale’s Alumnae Weekend, the women’s basketball team hopes to give its past a glimpse of a promising future.
While the Elis (3-12, 0-2 Ivy) have struggled mightily this season, this weekend will hopefully be a turning point for the squad. The Bulldogs host their first full weekend of Ivy League games by playing the University of Pennsylvania (7-6, 0-0) and Princeton (8-5, 0-0) at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.
“I think this weekend is going to be really exciting,” Eli forward/center Julie Mantilla ’07 said. “It’s good to get a change of pace from playing Brown twice and our team has been working really hard in practice. I think we’re all ready for the weekend.”
The Bulldogs are led by Yale center Erica Davis ’07, who is tops on the team in points per game (12.4), rebounds per game (6.9), field goal percentage (.431) and steals (25).
Guard and captain Morgan Richards ’05 has been the go-to player for the team during the conference season. She is currently leading the Bulldogs in points per game (15.5) and rebounds per game (7.5) in Ivy play.
The Bulldogs’ first contest will take place tonight against the Quakers, the defending 2003-04 Ivy League champs.
In the Elis’ last encounter with the Quakers, Penn came away with a formidable 76-56 victory to cap its two-game sweep over the Bulldogs. The Quakers narrowly escaped with the win in their first game last season, edging the Elis, 59-57.
One key player that the Bulldogs will definitely keep their eye on tonight is Penn center Jennifer Fleischer.
“Fleischer is an extremely good post player,” Eli forward Lindsay Page ’05 said. “She’s very effective inside the paint and has a solid-structured offensive game.”
Fleischer is currently averaging 9.9 points per game and 9.1 boards per game. She is also leading her squad in blocks (19).
Going into the contest against the Elis, Penn has just grabbed its fourth-straight victory to conclude the non-conference portion of its schedule.
The Bulldogs look to end the Quakers’ small winning streak Friday night and start one of their own.
After playing Brown, the Tigers will enter Bulldog territory Saturday to cap their Ivy weekend as well. Although the Elis will have little rest before their second game of the weekend, they feel very confident in stepping up to the challenge.
“I think we will play pretty well on Saturday,” Eli guard Chinenye Okafor ’07 said. “After coming fresh out of gameplay the night before, we’ll be totally ready to take on Princeton. We’ll still have the momentum in us and we’ll just push it as hard as we can against them.”
Princeton has won its last six consecutive games — just one shy of tying its seven-game streak during the 1998-99 season.
For the past four years, the Elis and Tigers have played at least one overtime game per season. Last year it was the Bulldogs who finished victorious in a 59-56 OT win. In 2003, Princeton took the 94-92 win after the close of the third overtime.
Given the competitive nature of all these squads, each one is anticipating close games Friday and Saturday.