Last night, the Yale women’s basketball team defeated Saint Peter’s 53–45 on the road in a back-and-forth match despite the absence of captain and leading scorer Sarah Halejian ’15, who is out for the year with a torn ACL.
Without Halejian, guard Tamara Simpson ’18 stepped up, registering three steals and scoring 15 points on 7–14 shooting on a night when the team shot just 33.9 percent from the field.
“We had a great performance from Tamara,” guard Nyasha Sarju ’16 said. “She was in the passing lanes, getting her hands all over the ball defensively and driving very effectively to the basket.”
In the opening minutes of the game, the Bulldogs (6–8, 0–0 Ivy) fell behind 4–0 but got on the board with a layup from Katie Werner ’17 three minutes in. Sarju’s jump shot 4:56 into the period brought the game to a 6–6 tie, but Saint Peter’s (1–14, 1–5 Metro Atlantic) went on a 12–5 run, largely thanks to senior guard Antonia Smith, to take an 18–11 lead halfway through the first half.
Despite a seven-point deficit, the Bulldogs regained momentum following a jump shot from center Emmy Allen ’16, and scored 15 consecutive points in the next five minutes, all the while completely stalling the Peacocks’ offense. But a buzzer-beater at the end of the first half by forward Bridget Whitfield cut Yale’s lead to 26–23.
In the first 6:10 of the second half, however, the Peacocks collected nine points between Smith and freshman guard Alyssa Velles, bringing the game back to a tie at 32–32. The teams traded buckets for the next 10 minutes, and Smith hit two free throws at the 2:48 mark to bring Saint Peter’s within two.
Down the stretch, Yale capitalized on its free throws and on the glass, with Werner, Allen and guard Whitney Wyckoff ’16 hitting shots from the charity stripe and Allen pulling down several important rebounds. Combined with poor shooting from the Peacocks, the Elis were able to salt the game away and clinch a victory.
Despite the hard-fought win, many players believe that the team’s performance took a great hit from Halejian’s absence. Without its leading scorer, the team lacked a sense of urgency on offense and did not exploit enough opportunities on the court, according to Sarju.
“The team did not perform very well tonight,” Sarju said. “Without Sarah, we all need to have a much bigger sense about scoring the ball and making an impact every second we are on the court. We have a lot of offensive weapons and need to capitalize on the ability of every player on this team to bring something positive.”
Simpson agreed with Sarju that Halejian’s presence was crucial to the team’s performance. Prior to her injury, Halejian had urged all players to step up their intensity and performance in order to produce a competitive and successful team, according to Simpson.
As this game is only the Bulldogs’ second win following Halejian’s injury, the team is still adjusting to Halejian’s absence on the court. The Bulldogs, however, remain confident about recovering in time for Ivy play.
“It wasn’t our best night, but we know what we have to do as a team from here on out,” guard Mary Ann Santucci ’18 said. “We are preparing to bounce back and get ready for Ivies starting this Friday.”
The Elis will play its first conference game against Brown on Friday at home. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.