This Friday, the Yale women’s basketball team has to sweat, struggle, steal and most importantly score in its second chance to emerge victorious against Brown.
After losing the Ivy season opener last Saturday against Brown (6-7, 1-0 Ivy), the Bulldogs (1-14, 0-1) look to win back their pride and move up the standings this weekend. The Bulldogs play the Bears again this Friday, this time rekindling their rivalry in Providence.
Brown was ranked No. 4 in the Ivy League women’s basketball preseason poll with 87 points while Yale was placed sixth with 51 points. But despite those rankings and the loss last week, Yale head coach Chris Gobrecht sounded optimistic about her team’s chances in this Friday’s game.
“We played this team to a four point ball game, so it was definitely close,” Gobrecht said. “Our team played hard, but not well.”
Last weekend, the Elis were short-handed because of the absence of Jamie Van Horne ’09, who left six minutes into the game with a concussion. Horne, who had been the leading scorer for the previous three games, is expected to play this weekend, but the final verdict on whether she will be cleared will be available only just before the game.
Also missing was perimeter player Kaitlin Emmerling ’07, one of the leading scorers from behind the arc with a .375 three-point field goal percentage. Emmerling was out recovering from sickness. She is deemed fit to play in tomorrow’s game. The absence of these two players in the last game meant more minutes, pressure and expectations for the others.
“We’re definitely looking forward to [Emmerling] playing,” center Erica Davis ’07 said. “It was great even having her on the bench on Saturday, she is the heart of the team.
Emily St. Jean ’09 said it would also help the team if Van Horne is able to play.
“It’ll be great to play with our whole team,” St. Jean said. “We will be a lot more competitive with our team at full strength.”
The Bears used their strengths well, exploiting Yale’s many defensive turnovers in the last game. The Bears converted 25 of the 32 turnovers to hold Yale off.
“Turnovers and rebounds were our biggest concerns,” Davis said. “In the last game, we rebounded incredibly. Turnovers are something that we need to have more control over, they are a vital part and will make a difference in the next game.”
Brown guard Colleen Kelly ’06 scored a game-high 18 points. Chinenye Okafor ’07 was Yale’s top scorer for the game, scoring a personal season-high 17 points. Gobrecht said Okafor will play an important role again Friday night.
“[Okafor] was the difference maker, and in the coming game Brown will definitely key in on her,” Gobrecht said. “The Bears will make it tough for her to get away. But ‘Nenye’s a tough player to guard, and she is prepared for it.”
The Elis will need to shoot much better than last time and compensate in other gray areas to make up for Brown’s home court advantage. The Bulldogs have five freshmen and no seniors. Nevertheless, the young blood on the team looks promising and Gobrecht expects the rookies to step up and perform. Kaitlin Lillemoe ’09 currently holds the season scoring record in a game, with her 19 points against New Hampshire Nov. 19, and has been performing well. Gobrecht said she expects Lillemoe to improve immensely.
“Lillemoe will be closer to [Okafor’s performance] in the next game,” she said.
If Yale is to win the rematch, the rest of the team needs to perform better overall. A glance into the Lanman Center shows the team practicing hard, working to raise the bar before Friday.
“Obviously, I, and the rest of the team feels like even though we kept the last game competitive, we need to play smarter and with more intensity to win the next one,” said Davis.