Poor shooting doomed the Bulldogs Friday night as they tried to complete a season sweep of Brown for only the third time since 2003.
The team shot only 36.5 percent from the floor in its 60–55 loss to the Bears after beating the Bears 75–65 the week before. For each of the past 10 seasons the Elis and the Bears have met on the first two weekends of Ivy League play, and Brown currently holds a 13–9 advantage in the series. But Yale had won seven of the last nine going into this weekend and hoped for a repeat of last season’s sweep. It was not to be, however, as a cold shooting night and Brown’s strong defense produced the Bulldogs’ third-lowest scoring output this season.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well,” forward and captain Michelle Cashen ’12 said. “The numbers don’t lie. We had about the same number of rebounds and turnovers, the possession battle was pretty even and we just didn’t make enough shots.”
The teams’ stat lines were nearly identical, with the two sides separated by two or less in rebounds, assists, turnovers and free throws made. With such parity everywhere else, the Bears 41.5-36.5 percent shooting advantage accounted for the slim margin of victory. Yet the week before at Brown, the Bulldogs actually shot a worse percentage while still securing a 10-point victory. That game, however, Yale dominated the offensive and defensive glass and committed far fewer turnovers than the Bears did. This time Brown closed the gaps in possession between the teams, and Yale was unable to make up the difference in shooting. With every game of critical importance for the Ivy League title, the team must learn how to weather off nights, Cashen said.
“We can’t rely on shooting all the time, and when we have [a poor shooting performance] as a team we have to figure out ways to compensate, Cashen said. “If we’re not shooting well we need to win with defense, for example.”
Some credit for Yale’s poor shooting must be given to the Brown defense, which made significant adjustments since the teams’ meeting last week. The Bears played zone for much of the game, slowing the pace of the game and forcing the Elis to shoot from the outside. Guard Sarah Halejian ’15 said the zone stifled the Bulldogs and prevented them from playing their favored up-tempo style of basketball.
“We struggled against the zone,” Halejian said. “They covered us well, and we ended up taking a lot of shots with the shot clock winding down.”
The two teams traded blows the entire game, with neither ever able to gain a clear advantage. The Bears held a 26–24 lead at halftime, but Yale came back to take a 45–44 lead with four minutes remaining in the game on Megan Vasquez’s ’13 free throws. Vasquez led the Bulldogs in scoring with 14 points while Cashen and Halejian added 13 each. From this point on Brown took over the game, and made six free throws in a row in the final 30 seconds to close out the game.
The team travels to Harvard this weekend for its third Ivy League game. The Crimson, at 1–0 in the conference, are currently second in the Ivy League behind Princeton. The Bulldogs’ chances for the conference title would be seriously hurt by a loss this week.
“Every game is important from here on,” said guard Aarica West ’13. “But this one especially both because its Harvard and because they’re always one of the better teams in the league. They are a tough team to guard and we have to be really on our game on Friday.”
Tip-off Friday is scheduled for 7 p.m.