In the Yale women’s basketball team’s inaugural Ivy game, the Bulldogs defeated Brown 66–49 after leading wire-to-wire, largely thanks to a strong defense as well as standout freshman guard Tamara Simpson ’18.
The Bulldogs (7–8, 1–0 Ivy) practiced full-court pressure defense for weeks before this game, which proved crucial in Friday’s win, according to Simpson. In total, the Bulldogs caused 23 turnovers and scored 21 points off of those giveaways. Furthermore, the Elis limited Brown’s senior captain Sophie Bikofsky, who averaged 14.4 points per game before Friday, to only one point, which did not happen until four minutes into the second half.
“We were all really knowledgeable of Brown’s personnel, and we made it a goal to take away Bikofsky’s jump shot and make her uncomfortable putting the ball on the floor,” Simpson said.
The Bulldogs’ pressure defense also stalled Brown’s leading scorer Jordin Alexander, who averaged 16.6 points per game entering Friday. Alexander mustered just 12 points on 3–7 shooting during the game.
“We know that defense is a huge part of our game and it’s really what fuels us and gets us going as a team,” Mary Ann Santucci ’18 said.
Yale took control of the game from the get-go. The Bulldogs went on an 18–4 spurt to open the game, highlighted by 10 points from guard Nyasha Sarju ’16. With 8:13 left in the half, Yale had caused a dozen turnovers by the Bears (5–9, 0–1 Ivy). At the 5:51 mark, a three-pointer from forward Katie Werner ’17 gave Yale its largest lead of 22. The Bears then made three layups between sophomore guard Rebecca Musgrave and junior guard Ellise Sharpe to end halftime down 30–14.
Brown maintained its momentum and started the second half on a 9–2 run, culminating in two successful free throws from Alexander at the 13:51 mark to shorten Yale’s lead to just seven. However, two consecutive jump shots from Simpson right afterwards sent the Yale offense off on a 16–6 run.
In the next two minutes, the Bulldogs scored eight points between Simpson and Werner, while allowing the Bears just one layup. Two free throws from guard Lena Munzer ’17 at the 8:00 mark widened Yale’s lead to 50–36.
The two teams traded baskets in the remaining minutes of the game, but the Bears were unable to come back and ultimately fell 66–49.
Offensively, Yale owed much of its success to Simpson, who scored a career-high 19 points on eight-of-12 shooting. In addition, the freshman star produced six rebounds, three assists and three steals. Other players added to Yale’s explosive offense as well. Joining Simpson in double-digit scoring were Sarju and Werner, who added 13 and 10 points to the game, respectively.
The Bulldogs’ mentality also played a large part in Friday’s win. As this was Yale’s first Ivy game, the players brought intensity and passion to the game, according to Simpson.
“Ivy season is what we’ve been working hard to prepare for almost six months and we all couldn’t wait to get after Brown right from tip-off,” Simpson said.
Combined with Yale’s pressure defense, Simpson said that the Bulldogs caught Brown off guard and made it difficult for the opponent to execute its offense consistently.
Looking forward, Yale will only compete against conference schools for the remainder of the season.
“In the upcoming practices before our rematch with Brown, the focus will be on getting better and preparing ourselves for the tough Ivy schedule ahead of us with back-to-back games on Fridays and Saturdays,” Werner said.
The Elis will face Brown again this Friday at Providence. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.