The women’s basketball team fared much better than the men’s team against its Harvard opponents this weekend.
The Bulldogs (11–7, 3–1 Ivy) beat the Crimson 68–63 on Friday and then dominated Dartmouth Sunday afternoon by a score of 89–65.
“[Beating Harvard] was an amazing feeling,” guard Megan Vasquez ’13 said. “We swept them last year, and Harvard and Dartmouth are the winningest programs in the Ivy League, so we’re very proud of our wins this weekend.”
The Elis fell behind early on Friday, but mounted a tremendous second-half comeback to pull out the victory. Harvard (9–8, 2–1) got out of the gate quickly, scoring the first eight points of the game before Janna Graf ’14 put Yale on the board with a three-pointer five minutes into the first half. The Bulldogs battled back to take a 16–15 lead with 5:17 remaining in the first period, but the Crimson answered with a 13–2 run and eventually went into halftime with a five-point lead.
Yale opened the second half the way Harvard had the first, scoring five times in a row to erase the deficit and take a seven-point lead before Harvard’s Christine Clark made a layup to stop the run four minutes into the half. Clark led the Crimson in scoring with 16 points and tied Graf, who also finished with 16, to lead all scorers. The teams battled back and forth for the remainder of the game; Harvard was able to take the lead for brief moments several times, but Yale always had an answer. The Crimson cut the lead to one with 1:24 remaining in the game, but a minute later guard Sarah Halejian ’15 made a layup and was fouled. Halejian completed the three-point play to put the Bulldogs up by three. Harvard was forced to foul and Vasquez made three of four free throws to close out the game. Vasquez said that the Bulldogs’ up-tempo play and tight defense gave them the advantage against the Crimson.
“We pushed the ball really well in transition,” Vasquez said. “I don’t think that they were really ready for it. We also locked down on their shooters and didn’t give them any open looks.”
On Sunday, the Elis were again outscored in the first half, but overwhelmed the Big Green in the second half en route to a 24-point win. This time the Bulldogs went on an even bigger run to open the second period, scoring 26 points to Dartmouth’s one point over the first nine minutes. They held the Big Green without a field goal until Tia Dawson ended the drought with a layup with 9:36 remaining in the game. Dartmouth was never able to recover, and the Elis coasted to an easy victory.
“Our coaches told us at halftime that we needed to step it up,” captain Michelle Cashen ’12 said. “We needed to get engaged in the game and just be more proactive, which we weren’t doing before.”
Vasquez, who led the Bulldogs in scoring with 23 points, added that the team knew that Dartmouth had scored too many points in the first half and that its defense had to be better.
The Elis outshot Dartmouth (2–15, 0–3) 44.1 percent to 30.0 percent in the second half and finished shooting 45.6 percent, a much better mark than they have averaged the last few games. “We were definitely getting better looks today than we have the past few games,” Vasquez said. “People seemed more composed and we had much better shot selection today.”
Next weekend the Bulldogs have their first back-to-back games of the conference season against Penn and Princeton. Graf said that the team must work hard to prepare for these upcoming challenges.
“Both games are going to be very tough competitions,” Graf said. “Princeton is the two-time defending champion and Penn’s program is getting better every year. We’re really going to have to come with our A-game and make sure that everyone is ready to play.”
The Bulldogs return to the court Friday at Penn.
Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.