The women’s basketball team fought hard, improved on their weaknesses, capitalized on their strengths and came back from behind this weekend, but it was all too late to secure a victory.

Yale (2-21, 1-9 Ivy) dropped both its matches at John J. Lee Amphitheater this weekend, losing to Dartmouth (17-4, 8-0), 64-51, and Harvard (9-13, 5-4), 59-54, on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

The Bulldogs fell to the Crimson for the second time this season on Friday, but by a closer margin than they had last time. Harvard secured a 55-48 victory in the last encounter between the two rivals in Cambridge, Mass. Less than a month later, the Elis proved unable to overcome a second-half Crimson lead of 15 points.

“We struggled in the game against Harvard,” guard Stephanie Marciano ’08 said. “It was the mental lapses that hurt us. We could not execute well offensively and are not scoring as easily as we should be.”

Although Yale managed to tie the score three times, the Elis struggled in their shooting — the field goals percentage for the game was 31.6 percent, and the three-point field goals percentage was just 17.6 percent.

“We did not rebound as well against [Harvard], but we defended better,” guard Kaitlyn Lillemoe ’09 said. “It was a step forward with defense. We just struggled getting the ball in; our shooting percentage was low.”

Yale picked up the pace in the final minutes of the game to push the lead to within five, but the team could never fully recover the 15 points.

“We did well off but struggled in the first half — more than anything, I think that we had a low and went back to our old problems,” Erica Davis ’07 said. “We played all right to sustain a lead and be competitive, but not to win. We tried to pick it up too late. They [Harvard] were fighting too hard to keep their five points and we weren’t fighting the whole time.”

Captain Chinenye Okafor ’07 tied a career-high, scoring 19 points, and center Davis chipped in with 11 from the bench.

The Bulldogs showed signs of improvement since their last encounter with the Big Green in Hanover, N. H., losing by a slimmer margin on Friday.

“We played well against Dartmouth, better than last time,” Lillemoe said. “We probably got a lot closer than any other Ivy team has gotten to them. We got beat in the transition. They were much faster than us on the floor, and that made the difference.”

Yale head coach Chris Gobrecht and other players said transition defense had been one of the Elis’ problem areas prior to this game. Davis herself contributed seven points against the Big Green and said she thinks the team is improving.

“[Dartmouth] is a tough offensive team,” Davis said. “We were testing out what we had practiced and did a good job sustaining them. Our defense could have been better, but offense is their specialty.”

Marciano said the team played hard and it proved it could compete.

“The last time we played them, the scores weren’t as close,” Marciano said. “This time showed that we are improving. But it’s just frustrating we are not getting wins.”

The Bulldogs are in action at home again next weekend, facing Cornell and Columbia on successive nights starting Friday.

“We are excited to play at home,” Lillemoe said. “Last time we played these two teams, our team was sick and tired. We are optimistic about this week’s chances. It’s much easier to play at home than on the road.”

Marciano said the freshmen on the team are contributing a lot more. Lillemoe scored three points apiece against both teams and Jamie Van Horne ’09 scored 12 points against Dartmouth and seven against Harvard. She said that the team is improving steadily and that she hopes that they will notch a few more wins before the season closes.

“We’re looking forward to next weekend,” Marciano said. “We have a few things we can work on, and we are optimistic that we can work them out …. This is the end of the season, so everyone is more experienced. The chemistry between the team is good, and it’s all coming together.”