The women’s basketball team got two career nights out of their players this weekend, but hot shooting from their opponents doused the Bulldogs’ flame. The Bulldogs (10-14, 3-7 Ivy ) fell to the Big Red 80-62 on Friday and the next day lost 77-61 to the Lions, which mathematically eliminated Yale from contention for the Ivy League title.
Despite the best efforts of forward Melissa Colborne ’10, who had a season-high 27 points against Cornell (9-13, 5-5 Ivy), and forward Michelle Cashen ’12, who had a career night with 22 points and a double-double against Columbia (13-11, 6-4), Yale simply couldn’t contain its opponents. Head coach Chris Gobrecht attributed much of the Elis’ woes to the loss of starting forward Haywood Wright ’10 to injury.
“In the Ivy League, you play with very little margin for error, so for us to lose any significant contributor on our team was going to be a real challenge to overcome,” Gobrecht said. “We battled, we played hard, but we just didn’t have enough horsepower.”
‘THEY JUST DIDN’T MISS’
It certainly doesn’t help things when the other team refuses to miss. Against Cornell on Friday night, the Bulldogs actually came out firing on all cylinders and jumped out to a quick 11-5 lead over the first four minutes. But that’s when the Big Red simply jumped into another world offensively, going on a 19-5 run en route to opening up a 50-30 lead at halftime.
“Our defense against Cornell in the first half wasn’t stellar, but it wasn’t that bad,” Gobrecht said. “But Cornell was just unconscious. They were throwing up stuff from all over the floor and it was all going in.”
Guard Yoyo Greenfield ’11 echoed that assessment.
“They just didn’t miss,” she said. “And if they did miss, they got the offensive board. It definitely hurt not having Haywood’s size inside and her rebounds.”
Indeed, the Big Red shot a blistering 77 percent in that first half and ended the game converting on 11 three-pointers on 61 percent shooting from behind the arc. When a team is putting on a shooting clinic like that, there is not much the Bulldogs can do. But they hung in the game and played a very competitive second half.
“You gotta give a lot of credit to our kids,” Gobrecht said. “We came back and outplayed [Cornell] in the second half.”
Part of that second-half effort came from Colborne, the team’s leading scorer. She netted a total of 44 points over the course of the weekend and moved up to 10th all-time on Yale’s career scoring list with 1,121 career points. Those points helped the Bulldogs gain a 32-30 scoring advantage in the second half, but the damage had already been done and the Elis fell by a final score of 80-62.
UP AGAINST BIG TIME PLAYERS
Against Columbia, it seemed like déjà vu. The game was a competitive back-and-forth shootout for much of the first half, but the Lions went on a late run for a 40-29 advantage at intermission.
Columbia then came out of the locker room with the safety off and firing from the hip. Cashen and her 22 points kept Yale within striking distance, but ultimately, the Bulldogs couldn’t cash in on her career night since Columbia’s Judie Lomax, the nation’s leading rebounder, proved to be too much to handle.
“Columbia’s got a couple of big time players and they were just tired of losing to us,” Gobrecht said. “But we were playing the leading rebounder in the nation, and even though Michelle really stepped up in that category last night, we were just undone by their big players.”
Indeed, Lomax finished with 20 points and 18 rebounds, which essentially offset a great 22-point, 12-rebound performance from Cashen.
“It was really hard to fill in for a player like Haywood, but I just tried my best,” Cashen said. “It was nice to reach those kinds of stats, but I’d much rather be scoring my regular average and winning the game.”
The freshman forward’s performance fully showcases a season that might have been. She was brought to provide depth in the front court but never expected to put in starter-type minutes on a regular basis. Key injuries to forward Lindsey Williams ’11 and now Wright have made the season a difficult one to conquer.
TITLE CHANCES GONE
Although the Bulldogs are no longer in the running for the Ivy League title, but they will still have a lot to play for.
“This team very much wants to leave a legacy, and for the most part, they have,” Gobrecht said. “The senior class has really done a good job of transferring the mentality of ‘we play to compete, we compete to win’ onto the next wave of players. That respect and love for our seniors will keep us going for the rest of the season.”
The Bulldogs will put everything they have out on the floor for Senior Night next weekend as they wrap up their home schedule with games against Penn and Princeton.