The Yale women’s basketball team bounced back from its recent losses Tuesday in the Great Alaska Shootout to secure a heavily disputed win over Monmouth.
The Elis received the visiting Hawks on Tuesday in the John J. Lee Amphitheater. After their lengthy trip to Seattle and Alaska during Thanksgiving Break, the Bulldogs were relieved to once again play on their home court. Although Monmouth entered the contest on a three-game winning streak, as opposed to Yale’s three-game losing streak, the Bulldogs showed they were ready to fight for a win, winning the game by a small four point margin, 62–58.
“The team wanted the win, and honestly, we were a little tired of losing,” head coach Chris Gobrecht said.
The Yale team knew going in that the game was not going to be an easy one, however. The Bulldogs faced a tough offensive squad in the Hawks, as Monmouth had guard Sarah Olson, with an average of 14.3 points per game and an incredible precision for three-pointers at 41.7 percent, and forward Jenny Horvatinovic, who averages 11.3 points per game.
Gobrecht added that on top of playing a hard-working, physical team, the Bulldogs were at an additional disadvantage due to their long travels and the wear-and-tear on their bodies.
“It was a tough game at a tough time of the season,” Gobrecht said.
The Elis, however, were able to overcome these difficulties. Guard Tamara Simpson ’18 attributed the team’s motivation to the disappointing games they had played after their exhausting road trip. She added that playing at home once again in front of their own fans further motivated the team.
Monmouth started off ahead for the larger part of the first half. With roughly nine minutes remaining before halftime, the Hawks had secured a 20–12 lead over the Bulldogs. However, Yale bounced back strong during the remainder of the first half, and was able to reduce the lead to 27–25. Senior captain Sarah Haleijan ’15 played a large role in fueling the run, having scored six crucial points in that span.
The two teams played very evenly throughout the second half of the game, with nine total lead changes throughout the game. The last few minutes would prove to be the key in securing a win.
With 1:38 left to play, Yale was up by only one basket, 55–53. Simpson made two consecutive baskets, sandwiched around one Monmouth free throw, which allowed Yale to garner a five-point lead with 47 seconds left in the game. The two teams exchanged free throws for the remainder of the time, with Halejian sinking three of her free throw attempts in the final 30 seconds to ice the victory.
Gobrecht was very impressed with Simpson’s performance during the game, adding that Simpson gave the team a huge lift off the bench and was certainly instrumental in the winning stretch in the second half.
Simpson also made a significant appearance in the match against Boise State during the Great Alaska Shootout. The guard made a layup with just six seconds left in that game, which sent the match into overtime.
“I’m just happy that I was able to do what I could to help my team come out with the win, and I hope I can continue to contribute to the success of my team,” Simpson said.
The Bulldogs’ next game will be this Saturday at home against Boston University. Halejian said that although the team played hard on Tuesday, the Bulldogs still need to be playing much smarter basketball when it comes to taking shots and playing defense.
Gobrecht agreed, adding that the team needs to be more efficient offensively, hitting more shots than they are right now. The Elis have been hovering around a 33 percent shooting mark for their first few games of the season — the worst in the Ivy League.
“We just have to believe that we used up all our misses already and that those are going to start falling,” Gobrecht said.
Saturday’s game against the Terriers tips off at 2 p.m.