Fresh off its 20-point come-back victory against Penn, the women’s basketball team hopes to do some real damage in the Ivy League this weekend when it travels to New York to take on Columbia and Cornell.
Yale (2-17, 1-5 Ivy) has a valuable opportunity to improve its record during this road trip, battling two teams in the bottom half of the Ancient Eight. The team kicks off the weekend by traveling to New York City to tame the Lions (4-15, 0-6). Columbia is winless thus far in league play and has dropped nine straight overall. The team has yet to win a game in 2006 and has lost its Ivy League contests by an average of 15 points.
Cornell (6-13, 3-3) has fared slightly better than its in-state rival, but is coming off back-to-back losses to Dartmouth (14-4, 5-0) and Harvard (7-11, 3-2). The Big Red began the season as the third youngest team in the nation with seven freshmen and four sophomores. The squad’s talented group of freshmen has taken home Rookie of the Week honors in six of the first 11 weeks of the season. Specifically, freshman Jeomi Maduka leads all rookies, averaging 13.9 points per game. On Jan. 30, junior guard Claire Perry became Cornell’s first Player of the Week in over two years with a career-high 22 points and season-best eight rebounds.
Bulldogs said this weekend provides them with an excellent opportunity to build on last weekend’s success.
“I think the win definitely boosted our confidence in our ability to defend teams in the Ivy League,” guard Kaitlin Emmerling ’07 said. “We’re still going to have to play just as hard, but we’ve shown we can compete.”
Head coach Chris Gobrecht also said the win against Penn provides the team with much needed foundation to build on.
“I think that it just recharges your battery a little bit when you finally have your work give you a favorable outcome,” Gobrecht said. “We were thrilled with the comeback, but have to take responsibility for why we got behind the in the first place.”
Aside from momentum, the Bulldogs will also have history on their side going into this weekend. Yale holds a commanding series lead over the Lions, with an all-time record of 30-8. As for Cornell, the Elis are 37-16 overall against the Big Red, and have won three straight games against them by an average margin of 22 points.
Gobrecht said she thinks the Bulldogs are very capable of keeping that winning tradition alive this weekend.
“I think these are very winnable games for us,” Gobrecht said. “Our major concern is to be playing at the highest level possible.”
Team players stressed that they are concentrating more on improving the quality of their game than focusing on opponents.
“We just need to play our game,” guard Kaitlyn Lillemoe ’09 said. “If we play hard and smart, the wins will come.”
Following the long road trip, the Bulldogs return to John J. Lee Amphitheater on Feb. 17, kicking off a four-game home-stand with games against Dartmouth on Friday and Harvard on Saturday.