In the final stretch of a long and exhausting season, the women’s basketball team still finds a motivation to make it to the finish line.

The Bulldogs (5-20, 2-10 Ivy) will wrap up the 2004-2005 season this weekend on the road as they travel to Cornell (3-22, 1-11) on Friday and then to Columbia (11-14, 4-8) the following night.

Saturday night will mark the final game for the seniors and for head coach Amy Backus, who announced her retirement two weeks ago and accepted a position as a varsity sports administrator with Yale Athletics.

Even though sweeping both the Big Red and Lions will only move Yale up to a tie for sixth place in the Ivy League, the Elis see a lot more riding on this final weekend.

“This weekend will be emotionally important to us,” Bulldog guard Tory Mauseth ’05 said. “This is our last weekend together and some of us won’t be coming back next year.”

Eli guards Morgan Richards ’05, Mauseth and forward Lindsay Page ’05 will wear their Yale uniforms for the last time in the season finale against Columbia this Saturday.

“I’m actually kind of grateful that my last two games will be [on] a road trip,” Page said on commenting about her final weekend with the Elis. “It gives me the chance to spend more time with the girls, whether it be on the bus, on the court, or even in the hotels.”

All three seniors have contributed greatly to the squad thus far. Richards has displayed undeniable leadership skills as team captain this season, leading the Bulldogs in scoring for most of the conference season and leading the team overall with 2.44 assists per game.

Mauseth raised the bar for three-point shooting after setting a new school record for career threes with a total of 164. Mauseth is also the third-highest scorer on the team with 8.7 points per game and leads the squad in free-throw shooting percentage (.818).

Page is currently leading the squad in field-goal percentage (.443).

After a big 68-49 win in their last encounter, the Elis are feeling very confident about pulling a repeat against Cornell this Friday.

“We just want to finish the season well,” Eli guard Chinenye Okafor ’07 said. “We beat [the Big Red] pretty good last time and we were close with Columbia, so I think we can pull it off this time around.”

The Big Red finally saw its first Ivy victory of the season last weekend in a 76-61 win at Princeton. Cornell’s Claire Perry scored a career-high 19 points that night while Lindsay Krasna currently leads the Big Red with 12.1 points per game. Eli center Erica Davis still holds a slight edge over Krasna, leading the Bulldogs with 12.2 points per game.

Yale’s final night against Columbia may be a more difficult game than the one against Cornell. In their last meeting, the Bulldogs’ strong second-half finish came short as the Lions held off the rally to take a 68-58 win.

“We just have to avoid what we’ve been doing a lot this season — starting out with a weak first half,” Page said. “If we can string along 40 minutes of consistent basketball, we can definitely pull off a win.”