The Yale women’s basketball team will again face off against Brown for both teams’ second conference game — this time in Providence.
The Bulldogs (7–8, 1–0 Ivy) played the Bears (6–9, 0–1) last Friday at John J. Lee Amphitheater, securing a 66–49 win in their Ivy opener. Guards Tamara Simpson ’18 and Nyasha Sarju ’16, along with forward Katie Werner ’17, scored in the double digits, helping the Bulldogs bring the win home. Just over a week later, the Bulldogs travel to the Bears’ home gunning for a season sweep.
“The biggest challenge after beating a team is asking what did we do well, what did we need to work on,” Sarju said. “We need to take it from that standpoint, and not from assuming that we’re going to win.”
Simpson agreed, explaining that while playing the same team consecutively is beneficial, because the team gets the chance to analyze any faults they might have had in the previous game and correct them before the next outing, the opponent will be doing the same. Simpson added that because Brown also lost the last game, they will be “that much hungrier to beat us.”
Assistant coach Claire Fitzpatrick recognizes these difficulties as well, but remains confident in her team’s ability.
“The second game is always the toughest, especially because it’s on the road,” Fitzpatrick said. “But we’ve had a lot of big wins on the road against huge teams with big crowds.”
Fitzpatrick is counting on the Elis’ strong defense to help them secure this second win. She stated that Yale’s biggest asset has been its pressure defense, which has allowed the team to force a large number of turnovers.
Right now, Yale ranks second in the league in turnovers caused, turnover margin and blocked shots. And the pressure has been ramped up as of late, with the Elis forcing 50 combined turnovers in their last two games against Brown and Saint Peter’s.
Yale’s defense was especially crucial in keeping the Bears from scoring. Brown put up just 14 first-half points and only 49 points for the game, a season-low total for the Bears.
One key to that game was on the glass, where the Bulldogs out-rebounded Brown 40–32. The Bears are last among Ancient Eight teams in rebounding margin, averaging 2.4 fewer boards than their opponents.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Bulldogs have been forced to adjust after captain Sarah Halejian ’15 was lost to a torn ACL, and Simpson has managed to pick up the slack. The freshman from North Babylon, New York has been electric recently, shooting 51.4 percent from the floor in Yale’s three games without Halejian and leading the team in points in each of the last two contests.
In the Elis’ last game against Brown, Simpson scored 19 of the team’s 66 points, including 10 points on 5–6 shooting in the second half to maintain the Elis’ lead.
“As for freshman players, we don’t know what they’ll produce on the court,” Fitzpatrick said. “But we knew Tamara was going to be special.”
Last week, Simpson was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week. Simpson leads all Yale freshmen and ranks third in the conference with 9.0 points per game.
Simpson, however, still strives to improve. Her personal goal for this upcoming game is to limit her defender to fewer points than last week.
“It is always a great feeling to be able to help my team out in any way possible and to contribute to the success of the team,” Simpson said. “I just hope that I can continue to do so.”
The Bulldogs tip off against the Bears today at 7 p.m.