The earliest game for the women’s basketball team will also likely be their toughest.

Stanford defeated Yale 100-44 in a Friday game that was seemingly decided in the few moments after the opening tip. While the Cardinal raced to an early lead, the Bulldogs were able to improve in the second half. The Elis were led by guard Jamie Van Horne ’09 with 15 points and forward Melissa Colborne ’10 with nine points.

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The game marked the first time in Yale women’s basketball history that a top 10 opponent played at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. The Cardinal are ranked eighth in the nation and are headlined by two preseason Wooden Award candidates, guard Candice Wiggins and center Jayne Appel. Wiggins is a two-time Pac-10 Player of the Year and three-time Kodak All-American selection, while Appel was Pac-10 Rookie of the Year last season.

“Wiggins’ skills and athleticism were very evident; she was very aggressive in using her body,” Van Horne said.

Wiggins, Appel and the rest of the Cardinal squad proved to be a challenge for the Bulldogs as the highest ranked team Yale will likely play all season. The Elis, however, did not make any special adjustments for Stanford, several players said.

“Going into the game, we wanted to work on our running game, which will be the focus of our season,” forward Ashley Carter ’10 said.

The Cardinal started the game looking to pressure the Eli guards into several early turnovers in the game that resulted in easy Stanford baskets. Head coach Chris Gobrecht tried to stop the Cardinal’s 7-0 start with a timeout 1:27 into the game, but the Bulldogs continued to buckle under the visitors’ defensive pressure for most of the first half.

“We expected to be overmatched.” Van Horne said. “We were kind of nervous to begin the game.”

In the half court, Cardinal guards Gold-Onwude and Wiggins penetrated the lane with ease against the Bulldog man-to-man defense leading to layups or trips to the free-throw line.

Solid post play from the Cardinal added to the Bulldog’s defensive troubles. Center Sara McCollum ’08 started the game fronting Appel, but the six-foot-four-inch Cardinal center sealed McCollum off, scoring 20 points in the game. Forward Haywood Wright ’10 also guarded Appel, but the Bulldog defense was too small in height and girth to prove effective, Wright said.

“We weren’t able to execute the post defense as well as we hoped,” she said. “[Appel] was just really tall, big and fast.”

Offensively, the Bulldogs struggled to find their way past the Cardinal 2-3 zone early in the first half. The Elis tried to swing the ball around the perimeter against the Stanford defence, but often ended up forcing contested shots. The Bulldogs’ first points of the game came four minutes into the game with two free throws by McCollum with Stanford already ahead by 16 points. The Elis were down 47 to seven with 7:03 left to play in the half, but Yale began to turn things around in the rest of the half, outscoring the Cardinal 11 to nine. Van Horne scored six points for the Bulldogs during this stretch with two three pointers on back-to-back possessions.

“It took me a while to realize that I needed to get my shot off still under their great defensive pressure,” Van Horne said.

The second half saw the return of the Cardinal starters to the court, who opened the half with a 13-4 run extending the lead to 71-22 with just over 15 minutes left to play. With the Cardinal starters on the bench, the Bulldogs scored 19 points in the last 12 minutes of the game. Van Horne continued her solid performance scoring three more three-pointers. Wright blocked a Stanford drive to the basket drawing the attention of the crowd with 6:45 on the clock, as she and McCollum limited scoring opportunities for Cardinal post players.

“We were more aggressive with our on-ball defense,” Carter said. “We picked up our aggressiveness. We tried to push the ball more.”

Looking ahead, the Bulldogs travel to Tempe, Ariz., to play the 12-ranked Arizona State. Carter said having played Stanford should help the Elis be prepared in the next game.

“We won’t come out scared this time,” she said. “We know what’s expected of us.”