The road ahead only gets tougher for the women’s basketball team.
Coming off a 68-49 win over Cornell last Saturday, the Bulldogs (4-15, 1-5 Ivy) will have to fight hard to keep up their momentum as they square off against Dartmouth Friday before facing Harvard Saturday. The Big Green (9-8, 5-0) are currently in first place in the Ivy League, while the Cantabs (12-6, 4-1) are in third.
This will be Yale’s first full Ivy weekend on the road. The Bulldogs lost at Brown, 72-56, Jan. 22.
“We all feel pretty good at this point,” guard Jessica Kimball ’08 said. “We’ve been working hard in practice making sure we keep up our momentum. I think we’re ready to take on our next four games on the road.”
The Elis have seen drastic improvement in their play of late, particularly after halftime. In its last three games, Yale has outscored its opponents in the second half, 108-85.
Against the Big Red last Saturday, the Bulldogs cruised behind a 24-point performance from center Erica Davis ’07. Davis, who is leading the Bulldogs with 12.4 ppg, rejected four Cornell shots to set a new Yale career (82) and season (42) record for blocks.
Captain Morgan Richards ’05 has proven to be an strong leader during the conference season, averaging 13.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per Ivy game, while Bulldog sharpshooter Tory Mauseth ’05 is now only a pair of three-pointers away from breaking Autumn Braddock’s ’99 Yale career record of 157.
The Elis’ first opponent this weekend, Dartmouth, will be heavily favored, but the Bulldogs have had recent success against the Big Green. Last season, the Elis went to Leede Arena and pulled off a 78-71 overtime upset against the Big Green, who eventually finished fourth in the league.
“I think we were performing much better at the end of our last season,” forward Lindsay Page ’05 said. “I also think that our last game against Cornell was the turning point of this season, and that we should be performing a lot better from here on in.”
The Bulldogs hope their momentum will result in a repeat of last year’s game, but there are some Dartmouth players who might get in the way.
Four of the five Big Green starters average over 11.5 points per game, including guard Jeannie Cullen, who averages 14.5 ppg, and center Elise Morrison, with 13.9.
“I know one factor that contributed to our win over Dartmouth last year was that we tried to put a lot of pressure on Morrison and Cullen,” Davis said. “This time we’re going to get them to force fouls, make it harder for them to get off shots, anything we can to hold them back.”
On the heels of a 73-71 win over Pennsylvania, Dartmouth has yet to lose an Ivy game this season and will try for its sixth Ivy win against Yale.
The Elis’ game against the Crimson will not be a walk in the park either. Harvard lost its only Ivy game to the Big Green.
Last season, the Elis and Cantabs split their meetings, with the Bulldogs winning the first, 62-59, and the Crimson taking the second, 80-64.
Harvard is the top scoring team in the league, averaging 70.4 ppg. The Crimson’s deadliest weapon lies in center Reka Cserny, who leads the league with 20.9 ppg and is third in the Ivies with 8.7 rpg.
Yale and Harvard have been — and always will be — competitive rivals. The women’s basketball installment of the rivalry has been fairly even, with the Cantabs holding a small 31-26 lead in the series.