During Thanksgiving break, the Yale women’s basketball team traveled to the West Coast and competed against three non-conference teams: Washington, Alaska Anchorage and Boise State. The Bulldogs fell in all three matches.
Yale (1–4, 0–0 Ivy) first faced the Washington Huskies at Seattle and lost 81–51. Despite a high-speed, aggressive offense, with captain Sarah Halejian ’15 scoring a team-high 19 points — moving her up to 14th on Yale’s all-time scoring list — the Bulldogs were not able to overpower the second-ranked Pac-12 team.
In the first 17 minutes of play, the Bulldogs produced eight lead changes, thanks to consecutive baskets by Halejian and guard Nyasha Sarju ’16. Defensively, freshman forward Jen Berkowitz ’18 made an instant impact in her inaugural season, grabbing 10 rebounds and delivering a double-digit rebound performance for the second straight game.
However, the Bulldogs were unable to stop the Huskies’ sophomore guard Kelsey Plum from scoring 28 points by herself. Along with Plum, three other players scored in double figures for Washington. Altogether, the Huskies shot an impressive 44.4 percent while the Bulldogs settled for 28 percent.
Despite the loss, the Bulldogs had much to learn from playing against a highly ranked Pac-12 team.
“The team’s exposure to a Pac-12 team … will definitely benefit us for the Ivies,” Meredith Boardman ’16 said.
The Bulldogs travelled to Anchorage, Alaska next to face Alaska Anchorage in the first round of the Great Alaska Shootout. Alaska Anchorage was known to be a strong opponent right away, having won all four games of its season by at least 36 points. In front of a crowd of 2,643, the Seawolves used a fast-paced offense to defeat the Bulldogs 72–63.
Though the Seawolves started the game 11–0 with a relentless offense, Yale recovered in time and broke the streak with consecutive scores from Sarju and Boardman. Much back-and-forth action followed, with Alaska leading by 17 with 5:23 remaining in the first half. In the final five minutes, the Elis slowed down Alaska’s offense and caught up on the scoreboard. By halftime, the Elis had closed up the gap with a 16–6 run and narrowed the deficit to seven.
In the second half, the Seawolves continued their fast-paced attack and kept their lead until the end of the game. Offensively, the Bulldogs were led by guard Katie Werner ’17, who shot a perfect 100 percent from the field. Halejian followed right behind with 14 points of her own, a double-digit figure for the fourth straight game. Defensively, however, the Bulldogs fell in rebounds 44–38 and allowed the Seawolves to sink key open shots in the second half of the game.
After losing to Alaska, the Bulldogs faced Boise State in an overtime game and fell once again 59–53. In the hard-fought contest, the Bulldogs led frequently and allowed no deficit over eight points. With 12 seconds remaining in the game and down by two, the Bulldogs tied the game with a layup from Tamara Simpson ’18 and sent the game into overtime.
A jumper by Halejian and two free throws from Simpson allowed the Bulldogs start overtime with a 4–0 run. However, Boise quickly retaliated with a 6–0 run and clinched the lead. In the end, the Broncos excelled under pressure and finished victorious. Led by forward Deanna Weaver, who scored six of 13 points in overtime, the Broncos disoriented Yale’s defense and ended the game with a three-pointer from Yaiza Rodriguez at 00:16.
Though the loss was disappointing, the overtime game against Boise State provided a good learning experience for the Bulldogs, particularly with respect to playing under pressure, according to Halejian.
Lena Munzer ’17 agreed that despite the three consecutive losses, the Bulldogs learned from their mistakes and are ready for a rebound.
“Although the outcome of the games were not what we wanted, there was a tremendous amount to take away from each game,” Munzer said. “We played relentless[ly] but just weren’t hitting shots. It feels good to be back in the gym now, and the losses are more motivating for the team right now.”
Sarju agreed with Munzer, saying that the team put in a valiant effort but simply were not hitting the shots. She added that the freshman have given significant contributions and will prove vital to the team’s success.
The Bulldogs will face Monmouth on Dec. 2 at home.