After weathering three straight losses over Thanksgiving break, the Yale women’s basketball team is ready to make a comeback in its next home game against Monmouth. Currently with the best winning percentage of all 11 teams in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Monmouth will be no less formidable than the Bulldogs’ three previous opponents.
Last week, the Bulldogs traveled across the country for a week-long trip but were disappointed with three consecutive defeats at the hands of Washington, Alaska Anchorage and Boise State. Yale first faced the Washington Huskies in a fast-paced, back-and-forth game, during which captain Sarah Halejian ’15 scored a team high of 19 points, and ascended to 14th on Yale’s all-time scoring list. However, the Bulldogs were unable to overpower the Huskies’ impressive 44.4 percent shooting and fell 81–51 to the highly-ranked Pac-12 team.
In the next two rounds of the Great Alaska Shootout, the Bulldogs failed to rebound from their loss and fell to both Alaska Anchorage and Boise State. In the hard-fought match against Boise State, the Bulldogs almost seemed to regain momentum as a layup by Tamara Simpson ’18 with just six seconds left sent the game into overtime tied at 46. Unfortunately, the Broncos effectively ended the Elis’ hopes with a three-pointer from Yaiza Rodriguez at 00:16 to go up by four.
“Since coming back from our trip to Alaska, the whole team is playing very hard and is very excited to play two good teams this week,” center Emmy Allen ’16 said. “We learned a lot about ourselves as a basketball team during our Thanksgiving trip, and we are all very focused and are ready to play Monmouth Tuesday and Boston University Saturday.”
In addition to team practices, the players have been putting in extra hours in the gym in hopes of improving shooting accuracy, according to guard Lena Munzer ’17. Yale is shooting just 33.4 percent from the field this season, last in the Ivy League and 316th out of 341 teams in Division I.
Monmouth will not be an easy opponent, however. Having just defeated their former conference foe Wagner 82–59, the Hawks enter today’s game riding a three-game winning streak. Junior guard Sarah Olson will be the biggest threat on offense. Starting all four games this season, Olson averages 14.3 points per game, the best on the team, largely thanks to a stellar 0.417 percentage from three-point range. Right behind her is 5’11” sophomore guard/forward Jenny Horvatinovic, who is averaging 11.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest.
When asked about how the team plans to stop Monmonth’s aggressive offense, Halejian noted that rebounding the ball will be key.
“We will try to pressure the ball handlers and passers in order to force turnovers and keep them from finding open shooters,” Halejian said.
Defensively, the Bulldogs must not overlook freshman Christina Mitchell. The 6’4” forward has made an instant impact off the bench, producing her second career double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds in the game against Wagner.
Though facing a winning team like Monmouth, the Bulldogs are still confident for a victory, according to Halejian.
“Everyone is hungry to get back on the winning track, and our practices since returning to campus have been productive as a result,” Halejian said. “We are excited to be playing at home this week and feel confident that we can get a win.”
After the Elis’ game against Monmouth tonight at 7 p.m., Boston University comes to town on Dec. 6. Both games will be at Payne Whitney Gymnasium.