A trip to the Big Apple ended up pitting the women’s basketball team against a record-setting individual effort in a game that saw a drastic reversal of roles across the two halves.

Even though Yale scored 39 points during its impressive second-half comeback, the squad could not overcome a slow start in an eventual 72-63 loss to Fordham last night in the Bronx.

The Bulldogs came out flat in their second-to-last away game of 2006, guard Emily St. Jean ’09 said. The Rams jumped out to a 14-2 lead just six minutes into the half, but the Bulldogs closed the Fordham lead to only three points with six minutes to go before the break. But this short-lived comeback fizzled, as the visitors were unable to score after a layup by captain and forward Chinenye Okafor ’07 with two minutes left on the clock. At the half, Fordham had a commanding 46-24 lead, holding the Bulldogs to a 28.1 field goal percentage.

The Rams’ senior guard Lisa Carrol scored 29 points in the opening period en route to a 39-point night. Carrol is now tied for second in the Fordham record books. Despite a weak stretch midway through the period, the Rams were able to fall back on their accuracy at the free-throw line, making 20 of 26 shots from the charity stripe during the first 20 minutes.

St. Jean said the team’s inability to play consistently will cost them against conference opponents if they are unable to improve.

“We can’t afford to come out flat and expect to win,” she said. “We need to be ready to play every day, especially because there’s a quick turnaround for Ivy League games.”

The second half was a very different story for the Bulldogs. Setting the tone for the second half, Okafor stole the ball from Rams junior forward Beth Troutt 14 seconds after the intermission, leading to center Erica Davis’s ’07 assist on guard Stephanie Marciano’s ’08 three-pointer nine seconds later. The Eli defense also found its bearings after the break, holding the Rams to just 26 points. The Bulldogs pulled down 13 defensive boards and almost doubled their field goal percentage (52.2 percent).

Guard Melissa Colborne ’10, posted another double-digit point total (14), Okafor followed with 10 points and Davis led the squad with 10 rebounds. But the 22-point halftime deficit was too much for the Bulldogs to overcome, and the Elis were inevitably outdone by Carrol’s high-scoring performance and their weakness from behind the arc.

Forward Sara McCollum ’08 said that the Bulldogs were boosted by their defense, but that their performance in the first half proved detrimental.

“That’s the kind of defense we need to sustain and it needs to be consistent, it can’t come and go,” she said. “We can’t keep getting down and coming back.”

The Bulldogs’ bench played a big role in the game, scoring 23 points compared to Fordham’s one-point contribution from the reserves. But despite the high quality of Yale play in the second half, Fordham’s high free-throw percentage (82.2), eight steals and 31 total rebounds allowed the home team to neutralize the Bulldogs before the half and survive through the final unimpressive 20 minutes. Still, the Elis were able to pull their game together after the break for one of their most potent single-half effort of the young season (39 points).

Despite the strong finish, Yale head coach Chris Gobrecht said she did not regard the game as a move in the right direction.

“It was disappointing to take so many steps back after we made so much progress,” she said.