In the women’s basketball team’s season opener Friday, it was the newcomers who helped the Elis to start their season with a win.

Five freshmen combined for 28 points — most of them in the Elis’ second-half, 18-point comeback — to give the Bulldogs (1–0) a 66–60 victory over Holy Cross (0–1) on Friday night at John J. Lee Amphitheater.

The Elis started the game sluggishly on both ends of the court. And the Crusaders took advantage of the Bulldogs’ play by starting the game on a 16–0 run and surging to a 39–25 lead at halftime.

“Considering how poorly we played, it’s a miracle we were still in it,” head coach Chris Gobrecht said of her team’s 14-point deficit at halftime. “[Holy Cross] looked like a team of seniors.”

But the Crusaders’ experience did not stand up to the youth and energy of the Bulldogs in the second half. Freshmen guards Megan Vasquez ’13 and Aarica West ’13 sparked a Bulldog run that cut the Holy Cross lead to one with 9:19 remaining.

“Our freshmen are very good offensive players,” Gobrecht said. “They gave us that offensive spark.”

But while the freshmen sparked the comeback, it was the seniors who finished the game down the stretch. Forward and captain Ashley Carter ’10 made the play of the game with 1:31 remaining and the Bulldogs up 58–56. Carter was fouled, and Holy Cross was over the foul limit, sending Carter to the free throw line. She sank her first free throw and missed the second. But she rebounded her own shot and made a layup, drawing a foul again. She sank another free throw in what turned out to be a four-point possession, putting Yale up 62–56 and sealing the victory.

For the Elis, the game featured the interesting dynamic of sluggish starters — many of whom were recovering from injuries — and energetic freshmen reserves.

“Some of our upperclassmen were rusty,” forward Lindsey Williams ’11 said. Williams herself is recovering from surgery on both of her knees.

The rusty starters were a big reason the Bulldogs started so stagnant while the freshmen were able to get Yale back in the game, Williams said.

According to Gobrecht, the six freshmen were expected to make big contributions this season, and they have started from game one.

[We] have been adjusting to the pace of the college game,” forward Emily Wanger ’13 said. “Each freshman has a unique set of skills.”

Vasquez had a team-high 15 points in her Yale debut, while forward Michelle Cashen ’12 dominated the front court with 13 points and 15 rebounds. Forward Mady Gobrecht ’11 also had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

The Bulldogs outscored the Crusaders 41-21 in the second half. The big comeback reflected the Bulldog strategy: continuous high-energy, fast and intense play to wear down the other team and win over the course of the entire 40 minutes of each game, as Gobrecht described it.

West, whose energy had helped to spark the Elis’ comeback, collided with an opponent on a fastbreak play midway through the second half and left the game. She suffered a knee injury and did not return. The extent of the injury is unclear pending further tests this week, Gobrecht said.

The Bulldogs next face the Black Knights of Army on Tuesday at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. The game begins at 7 p.m.