After a string of tough losses, the women’s basketball team will try to record its first Ivy League win this weekend as they take on Harvard and Dartmouth.
But victory may be difficult, as the Elis (1-14, 0-2 Ivy) are set to take on two of the better teams in the Ivy League. The team will travel to Cambridge, Mass., on Friday to play Harvard (4-10, 0-1) and will follow up with a Saturday trip to Hanover, N.H., to battle Dartmouth (10-4, 1-0). Playing back-to-back road games is something the Elis have become accustomed to this season, as fewer than a third of their games thus far have been held at Lee Amphitheater.
“It is definitely going to be hard to play two tough teams on the road in one weekend, but this is what the Ivy League is all about,” Ashley Easley ’09 said. “We have a couple more weekends like this one coming up, so we have to be tough physically and mentally.”
Unfortunately, the team does not enter this challenging weekend with any discernible momentum, coming off consecutive losses to Brown last week (8-7, 2-0 Ivy). But boosting the Bears’ record was not the only result of the Elis’ last two contests. Players said the games provided valuable experience in league play and helped prove they could compete with anyone.
“I think we played [Brown] really tough, especially at home,” Kaitlyn Lillemoe ’09 said. “We came out slow in the second game, but still showed that we can compete in the second half.”
But the Elis have also learned that the ability to compete does not necessarily result in victories. The team — with four consecutive losses — will enter Friday night’s contest against the Crimson as the only team in the Ivy League without a road win. Harvard, on the other hand, has beaten the Elis in 11 of their previous 13 meetings, including four straight at home. But the Crimson, who will be playing their first game since a 91-76 loss to Dartmouth more than 20 days ago, may be a little rusty this weekend.
Though graduating Ivy League Player of the Year Reka Cserny last year, Harvard still has some players very capable of causing damage. Freshman Katie Rollins was named Rookie of the Week on Jan. 9, after pouring in 14 points on 7-11 shooting in 14 minutes of play against Dartmouth. Freshman Emily Tay has also displayed her offensive prowess, racking up double-digit scoring efforts in five of the Crimson’s last six outings.
Dartmouth poses another formidable challenge for the Bulldogs. In pre-season polls, the Big Green were unanimously selected to repeat their 2004-05 championship. With a unique combination of outstanding shooting and hard-nosed defense, Dartmouth has posed considerable problems for its opponents all season.
“Dartmouth does an excellent job of playing together. They have the best team chemistry in the league,” Yale head coach Chris Gobrecht said. “Also, we’re going to have to make sure not to lose track of our assignments on defense because they have outstanding shooters.”
The defensive difficulties that come with playing a team of Dartmouth’s caliber may be somewhat mitigated by the recent play of captain Chinenye Okafor ’07, who gives the Elis some confidence of their own on the offensive end of the floor. Okafor has averaged more than 16 points a game in league play this season and has carried the team offensively for stretches at a time. With continued strong play from Okafor, the Bulldogs hope to make this weekend more successful than the last.