From now on it counts. The women’s basketball team is set to tip off the Ivy League season tonight as they begin the journey toward winning a conference championship and representing the Ivy League in the NCAA tournament.

The Bulldogs (5–8, 0–0 Ivy) will travel to the Pizzitola Sports Center in Providence, R.I., to take on Brown (3–11, 0–0) and begin their quest for an Ivy League crown.

“The team’s really excited to start Ivy League play,” head coach Chris Gobrecht said. “It’s what we’ve been working on all year.”

The Elis have won three of their last four meetings with the Bears, including a 71–37 blowout in Providence last season.

The Bears enter the game having lost five straight games, while the Bulldogs, in the sixth game of a seven-game road trip, are coming off of a 68—58 victory over the New Jersey Institute of Technology on Jan 9.

Yale has been led recently by forward Mady Gobrecht ’11, who blocked a career-high six shots in the NJIT victory, the most blocks in a single game by a Yale player since 2006. Gobrecht ranks third in the Ivy League with 1.4 blocked shots per game.

Forward Michelle Cashen ’12 has also contributed consistently, leading the Bulldogs in rebounds and ranking fourth in the Ivy League with 7.8 rebounds per game.

Guard Megan Vasquez ’13 — who, as a freshman, is Yale’s leading scorer, with 10.8 points per game — has scored in the double-figures in her last seven games. Vasquez was recently named Ivy League Rookie of the Week and ranks third among all Ivy League freshmen in scoring.

The Bulldogs are not only led by their young talent, but they also receive major contributions from their upperclassmen. Forward Melissa Colborne ’10 is averaging 9.2 points per game. The former Ivy League Rookie of the Year currently ranks seventh in Yale history with 1,290 points.

The Elis have benefited from a very balanced team this season. They are the only team in the Ivy League with five players averaging more than eight points per game. Yale has 10 active players playing at least 10 minutes per game, and during the season, five different players have led the team in scoring.

As the Bulldogs begin an important stretch of the season, they are confident that their difficult schedule so far has made them tougher and will prepare them to step up the intensity during conference play, Gobrecht said.

“You always want to bring your best game to the Ivy League,” she said.