Though the women’s basketball team has boosted its long game and defensive effectiveness over the last few weeks, it has yet to put all its assets together, and a weekend spent visiting the Killer P’s only served to reinforce the need for improvement.
Yale (10-10, 3-3 Ivy) dropped an 83-73 decision to Princeton (10-9, 4-1) Friday night, at the start of a strong Tiger weekend that would see the team sitting in first place by Sunday. Yale lost its second consecutive game and 12th straight conference game on the road in Philadelphia the next night, 70-57, following the early loss of captain and forward Chinenye Okafor ’07 to a dislocated toe in the third minute of play.
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The Elis’ strong shooting and low number of turnovers on Friday night were a testament to their hard work in practice, yet Princeton’s efficiency at the free-throw line was enough to defeat the Bulldogs by 10.
Yale showed promise in the first 20 minutes, exchanging the lead with the Tigers and forcing six ties to complete the half just three points behind Princeton.
Center Erica Davis ’07 racked up 25 points in the game — matching Princeton’s Ivy points leader Meagan Cowher for the overall game high — and totaled 18 boards for a double-double. Guard Stephanie Marciano ’08, forward Sara McCollum ’08 and guard Melissa Colborne ’10 also had point totals in the double digits for the Elis.
Though the Bulldogs tried to fight back through the second half, the Tigers attained an eight point lead off a Cowher layup with three minutes to play. The deficit only grew from there; the Elis were outscored in the final moments of the game, 13-6, and wrapped up the loss with a turnover, their 18th of the game.
In the hallowed halls of the Palestra the following night, the Elis took an early hit when Okafor went down just minutes after the first whistle. Okafor’s substitute, forward Haywood Wright ’10, played a career-high 16 minutes, pulling down eight rebounds. Davis matched Wright’s game-high boards total with eight of her own and notched 21 points.
After taking an early lead with a quick layup by Davis and a three-pointer by Marciano, the Bulldogs slipped behind the Quakers with four minutes to go before the break. The Bulldogs’ stellar 77.8 percent free throw percentage in the opening 20 could not overcome their poor 33.3 percentage in field goals.
“We would have been fine,” Yale head coach Chris Gobrecht said. “The wind just got taken out of our sails when Nenye got hurt. It took away a little bit of our heart, and Nenye was playing really well, she had four rebounds in three minutes on the floor and was just everywhere. We were ready to take that game.”
Going into the second half, the Elis only converted two points off free throws in the first five minutes before a Davis basket cut the surging Penn lead to nine. But the Quakers never ceded control of the game, sinking 11 straight shots from the charity stripe in the last five minutes to seal the victory.
Contributions from Penn’s star seniors, forward Monica Nalter and guard Joey Rhoads — who were responsible for more than half the Quakers’ points — easily overcame the Bulldogs’ paltry field goal percentage to ensure a Quaker victory.
“We needed to play as a team, together, better,” Jamie Van Horne ’09 said. “We knew who the two players we needed to stop were and we didn’t do that very well. It was what we expected, and we just didn’t play very well as a team. And we’re not going to win very many games if we don’t do that.”
The Bulldogs were plagued by the same problems that have consistently hurt them this season: a high number of turnovers against Princeton and low scoring efficiency at Penn. The next two games will be in New Haven, giving the Bulldogs a shot to climb back up near the top of the Ancient Eight back in the confines of Lee Amphiteater.