Good things have finally come to those who wait.
This weekend the Yale women’s basketball team, after dropping its fifth consecutive game of the season to Columbia 68-58 Friday, cruised past Cornell 68-49 Saturday to tally its first Ivy League win of the season.
While the Bulldogs (4-15, 1-5 Ivy) were hosting the Lions Friday evening at the John J. Lee Amphitheater, many of the Eli fans and players felt a sense of deja vu. Similar to their game against Princeton the previous weekend, the Bulldogs had a slow start coming into the game, and a strong finish at the end that just was not enough to catch back up and take the lead.
The Lions were able to hold the Elis to only 13 points in the first half, while they managed to score 29 points of their own. The fast start may have surprised some, considering Columbia was still recovering from head coach Traci Waites’ sudden resignation Thursday.
After the break, however, the Bulldogs regrouped and played the second half with the same intensity they did in the second half against Princeton, outscoring the Lions 45-39, including a 13-0 run in the final minutes of the game.
Yale forced 12 Columbia turnovers in the second half and Eli guard Kaitlin Emmerling ’07 scored all of her career-high 11 points during the second segment.
Yale captain Morgan Richards ’05 led her squad with 18 points, followed by Eli guard Chinenye Okafor ’07 with 13 and center Erica Davis ’07 with 11.
Columbia forward Adia Revell led the Lions with 18 points, followed by center Edytte Key and guard Nicole Lesko with 12 points each.
Despite the valiant effort the Bulldogs put in the second half, the deficit in the first half was just too much to overcome for a win.
But the Elis held on to the momentum they had and used it in the game against Cornell (2-17, 0-6 Ivy) the following evening in quite possibly their best game of the season.
“I think we all came out with really good energy,” Yale center Julie Mantilla ’07 said. “We usually come out slow and make up for it in the second half, but this time we approached the whole game as if it were our second half.”
Davis led the onslaught, scoring a game-high 24 points and tallying all four of Yale’s blocks, breaking her own school single-season block record.
“I think breaking this record really solidified [that] aspect of [my] game,” Davis said. “Playing defense is really hard, so whenever I play my defense as hard as I can, getting blocks is almost like a perk.”
Richards added another 16 points to the scoreboard and a game-high eight rebounds. Eli point guard Tory Mauseth ’05 sank two more three-pointers Saturday for a total of six points and is now a single three away from tying Autumn Braddock ’99’s school record of 157 career three-pointers.
Okafor set the tone for Yale on the opening possession of the game, as she drove the lane and dished the ball back out to Davis for the open jumper that triggered a 12-4 run. After leading by as many as 12 points, the Bulldogs closed the first half ahead 35-24, shooting 52 percent from the floor and holding the Big Red to 32 percent.
In the second half, Cornell tweaked up its defense a little more, stopping a few of the fast breaks Yale was getting earlier, but the Elis overcame the pressure quickly and slowly increased the lead, leading by as many as 23 points.
“We were under a lot of pressure in their full-court press,” Mauseth said. “We sometimes had trouble putting the ball in play, but we just pushed harder through their defense and regained control of the game.”
Cornell guard Lindsay Krasna led the Big Red with 15 points, followed by guard Katherine Stritzl, who scored 12.
The Elis will now set their sights on Dartmouth and Harvard as they hit the road next weekend.
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