The women’s basketball team hosted the Brown Bears on Saturday as it began its quest for its first Ivy League championship since 1979. Despite a strong first half, the Bulldogs were undone by poor shooting at the free throw line and beyond the arc and fell, 68–67, to the Bears at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.
After a back-and-forth battle in the first half that included nine lead changes, the Elis went on a 9–3 run to close out the half and head into the break with a 28–23 lead. Five of the Bulldogs’ final nine points of the half came from captain Allie Messimer ’13, who netted a 3-pointer and two free throws to give Yale the advantage heading into halftime.
Despite trailing at the end of the first, Brown (7-8, 1-0 Ivy) was able to contain the Elis’ 3-point game, an especially important aspect of the Bulldogs’ offense so far this season, in the first half. The Bulldogs came into the game shooting 35.9 percent from beyond the arc, but made only two of 11 3-pointers in the first half of play.
“I think we got a lot of good looks at 3s we just didn’t knock them down how we usually do,” Messimer said. “They did a good job getting out and we rushed our shots.”
The momentum shifted at the start of the second half as the Bears went on a a 9–4 run of their own to tie the game at 32 at the 16:38 mark. The Bulldogs battled from behind from that point on, trailing by as much as seven.
“Brown came out hungrier than we did to start the second half because we were up and they knew they had some ground to make up and we got a little too comfortable,” guard Sarah Halejian ’15 said.
In a much more physical period of play, the Bulldogs saw more opportunities at the free-throw line as well as more transition offense from the Bears. As the Elis fought to match Brown’s pace, forward Emmy Allen ’16 scored a key basket in transition to pull the Elis within three at the 5:14 mark.
Struggles at the free-throw line plagued the Bulldogs. The Elis, who came into Saturday’s game shooting 73.5 percent from the line, made only 10 of 19 for 52.6 percent.
“I think we need to knock down our shots, especially free throws,” Messimer said. “Most importantly though, we need to sustain defensive intensity. We looked hesitant defensively and need to play our typical aggressive defense.”
With 1:49 left to play, Halejian drove to the basket through traffic and made a layup with an and-one opportunity to bring the Bulldogs within three.
After the teams traded baskets to bring the score to 67-65 in favor of the Bears, Amanda Tyson ’14 tied the game with a layup. A defensive foul sent Brown’s Sheila Dixon ’13 to the line, where she made one of two foul shots to give the Bears the 68-67 advantage.
“During the preseason, when teams went on runs against us and built leads, we failed to make convincing comebacks,” Halejian said. “Last night, we continued to battle despite being down.”
The Elis had one final opportunity to finish off the Bears. After a successful inbound play under their own basket, the Bulldogs were only able to muster a contested outside shot. Brown grabbed the defensive rebound and walked away with the 68–67 win.
Halejian was the high scorer for Yale with 14, followed by Messimer with 12. Dixon and guard Lauren Clarke ’14 led the scoring for the Bears with 18 and 20 points, respectively.
“I’m looking forward to playing Brown again so soon while the loss is still fresh in our minds,” Halejian said. “They beat us on our home court, so I’m excited to play at their place and hoping we can do the same to them.”
The Bulldogs will make the trip to Providence, R.I., on Friday to to take on the Bears in a rematch of Saturday’s game. The two teams will tip off at 6 p.m.