Baruch was just the final stepping stone — now the Bulldogs must take the plunge into Ivy League play. The Elis (8-6, 0-0 Ivy) walked all over the Bearcats (6-7, 2-1 CUNYAC) right from the opening tip, on their way to an 80-47 victory at John J. Lee amphitheater yesterday.
The game was the team’s final test before it opens its conference schedule at Brown (9-4, 0-0 Ivy) on Friday night. Yale will face the Bears riding the crest of a three-game winning streak and after having completed its best non-conference schedule since the 1993-’94 season, when it finished non-conference play 8-4. This year’s non-conference slate featured trips to No. 1 Baylor, No. 20 Delaware, and Florida State, a team that Yale beat last year for its first-ever victory against a ranked opponent. This tough schedule has given the Bulldogs the unenviable distinction of being the only team in the country to have faced the top two players in the nation this year, Baylor’s Brittney Griner and Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne. And while Yale lost all three of these games, head coach Chris Gobrecht has repeated many times that playing such a high level of competition leaves the team better prepared once the second part of the season comes along. Guard Aarica West ’13 agreed with her coach on the value of these games.
“Playing teams of that caliber definitely helps us in the Ivy League,” West said. “[The conference] is very competitive, and every night is anyone’s game so you have to go all out every game.”
The team still had to get past Baruch yesterday, and the Bulldogs did it with ease. Four players scored in double figures for the Elis, and the team’s 80 points matched a season high it recorded earlier in wins at Houston and Fairleigh Dickinson. The Bulldogs assisted 18 of their 27 field goals and shot 90 percent from the free throw line. Forwards Michelle Cashen ’12 and Janna Graf ’14 led the scoring with 15 points each and Graf finished with nine rebounds, narrowly missing her second double-double of the season.
The team’s defense was even more impressive. It held the Bearcats to 47 points on just 31.1 percent shooting. The point total was the second lowest allowed by the Elis this season and the shooting percentage was the worst mark by a Yale opponent this year. Guards Allie Messimer ’13 and Sarah Halejian ’15 had three steals apiece and the Bulldogs forced 19 turnovers in total, which they converted into 24 points on the offensive end.
Now the Elis can move on to Brown. The 9-4 Brown Bears have won their last six and have the second best record in the conference going into Ivy League play, albeit after a much lighter non-conference schedule than Yale. Brown was picked to finish fifth in the Ivy League Preseason Poll, two spots behind Yale.
After Friday, the Bulldogs return home to play the Brown Bears again on Jan. 20.