The women’s basketball team suffered its first lost of the season Thursday at the hands of the No. 7 ranked Arizona State Sun Devils at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. The Bulldogs (2–1) were soundly defeated 82–46, as the Pac-10 Sun Devils (2–0) dominated from the opening tip.
The game was a reunion of sorts for the two head coaches. ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne was an assistant on Yale head coach Chris Gobrecht’s staff when Gobrecht was head coach at the University of Washington.
“It’s hard,” Thorne said of facing off against a former colleague. “I have a ton of respect for Chris Gobrecht. I owe her a ton.”
The Sun Devils started strongly, going on a 16–0 run behind a balanced offense and pressure defense to make the score 18–2. The Bulldogs struggled, missing a series of layups and wide-open shots.
But guard and captain Ashley Carter ’10 made a big play for her team with 14:55 left in the first half. As ASU ran down the court on a fast break, Carter chased down the ball and made a huge block that ignited the crowd. The play, symbolic of the Elis’ tough defense, sparked the Bulldog offense as Yale finally broke the two-point ceiling and rattled off seven points.
“I try to do what I know my team needs me to do,” Carter said.
The Bulldogs’ intensity remained for the rest of the half as they managed to go into the locker rooms at halftime with a 34–20 deficit. In 20 minutes of play, the Elis had remained in the game with one of the top-ranked teams in the nation — and one of the toughest defenses they are likely to see all season.
“We did handle the ball pretty well under pressure,” Carter said. “In past years we might not have.”
Carter once again made a big play in the second half. With two minutes gone by in the half, Carter crossed over her initial defender, drove toward the hoop, lowered her shoulder and made contact with an ASU player before sinking in a layup and drawing the foul. Carter also connected on the following free throw.
Nevertheless, the play was not enough, as the Sun Devils finally opened the game up with smart frontcourt play. The visitors scored multiple layups and points in the paint, pushing the lead to as much as 39.
Gobrecht’s analysis of the game was straightforward.
“This game was about one thing and one thing only: rebounds,” she said.
Indeed, the Bulldogs were out-rebounded 61-21, with the Sun Devils collecting 27 offensive rebounds and scoring 24 second-chance points. While Gobrecht said her team played good defense, she added that hopes to improve the team’s future performance on the boards.
“We need to work on boxing out,” Gobrecht said.
Guard Megan Vasquez ’13 led the Bulldogs in scoring once again with eight points, though she made only three of 16 shots. Forward Melissa Colborne ’11 had seven points, while forward Michelle Cashen ’12 had four points and four rebounds.
As ASU looks to exceed last year’s mark of reaching the elite eight of the NCAA tournament, Gobrecht said she thinks the Sun Devils are much improved.
“That’s the most athletic ASU team I’ve seen,” Gobrecht said.
After a seven-day break, the Bulldogs will next play Toledo in Albuquerque, N.M. on Nov. 27 as part of the Holiday Inn and Suites Express Midtown Thanksgiving Tournament hosted by the University of New Mexico. The Bulldogs will not have another home game until Dec. 9, when they host Boston University.