In the span of 2.8 seconds, the Bulldogs went from the Comeback Kids to the Heartbreak Kids.
After being down by as many as 17 points in the second half, Yale (7-8, 0-1 Ivy) rallied all the way back to tie Brown, (3-12, 1-0) last Friday night, at 62 a piece. But with just 45 seconds remaining, the Bears, thanks to an offensive rebound, managed to get the ball to their backup forward. The Brown player, Amy Ehrhart, made a move toward the basket and was immediately rewarded with a pair of free throws with 2.8 seconds left in the game. She calmly made both foul shots and Brown, picked to finish last in the Ivy League this season, won 64-62.
For both the players and crestfallen fans, it was a heartbreaking and ultimately disappointing Ivy opener at home.
“We just weren’t ready to play,” captain and guard Jamie Van Horne ’09 said. “I think we underestimated this team and we weren’t ready for the intensity they brought.”
Lost in the defeat was a gem of a game from Van Horne, who added four more three-pointers to bring her Yale record to 192 and led all scorers with 16 points.
“Shooting well is my job and I expect myself to do that,” the captain said. “But if we don’t play team defense or move the ball better on offense, we’re not going to win.”
Indeed, defense had been a focus of practice all week. But several times on Friday night, the Bulldogs seemed to be just a step behind in their rotations and forfeited far too many open looks in the first half, leading to a 48.6 percent shooting performance for Brown in that time frame.
Echoing Van Horne’s sentiments, head coach Chris Gobrecht said she also thought Yale was not mentally ready for the game.
“By giving up 41 points in the first half and only 23 in the second half, it was obvious that we weren’t ready to play right off the bat,” she said. “We have not played well since coming back from California and tonight, it finally just caught up with us.”
Although the Elis played much better in the second half, Brown actually held a 17-point advantage, at 51-34, with 16:19 remaining in the game. But the strong play of the Yale bench eventually sparked a run to erase the deficit.
“Something that our second team really prides ourselves in is bringing up the intensity and trying to create energy and momentum,” said guard Kaitlyn Lillemoe ’09, who made a deep three and then finished a strong drive to spark a 15-4 run in that time frame. “Coach also had us go to a zone, which shut them down offensively, and that momentum kind of transferred over to the rest of our team.”
Yet that momentum was not enough when Ehrhart drew the controversial foul with seconds left on the clock. It had been a physical contest all night and in fact, Ehrhart was only in the game because Brown’s starting center, Natalie Bonds, had fouled out of the game. The officials had an active whistle the entire game and Chris Gobrecht even drew a technical foul when forward Mady Gobrecht ’11 was called for a questionable offensive foul.
Even so, the coach took some of the blame for how the game turned out.
“We tried so hard to work on help and rotations on defense all week and for whatever reason, the team is just not responding,” Chris Gobrecht said. “It’s just very disappointing because I can’t seem to get the team out of this rut. I obviously just have to go back to the drawing board and figure something out.”
With the second half of a home-and-home with the Bears in Providence next week, the Bulldogs will get a chance to redeem themselves. For now, the taste of that heartbreaking defeat will linger just a little bit longer.