This weekend is a chance for the Yale women’s basketball team to tie the longest winning streak in program history.
While riding a six-game win streak, the team will head north to face Dartmouth and Harvard this Friday and Saturday. The Bulldogs have been successful despite losing team captain and leading scorer Sarah Halejian ’15 for the rest of the season. In the Dec. 30 game against the Oklahoma Sooners, Halejian went down with a torn ACL, which closed the book on her Yale career. As a result, the Elis have adapted.
“Different people have stepped up on different nights, which has made us hard to beat,” Halejian said. “We have been playing solid team basketball.”
The distribution of scoring is indeed wide, as there are three Eli players on the cusp of averaging 10 points per game.
Tamara Simpson ’18 has stepped up to help fill the void opened by Halejian’s unfortunate injury. She has been named Ivy League Rookie of the Week two times in the last three weeks and has averaged 12.7 points per game during the Bulldogs’ past six games.
Friday’s matchup against the Big Green features the Ivy League’s leading scorer, Fanni Szabo. In this contest between two 10–8 teams, the Bulldogs look to maintain a presence on both sides of the court.
“Something to look forward to is our team’s pressure defense. Dartmouth and Harvard are two tough teams that we can pressure so they are extremely uncomfortable on offense,” Meredith Boardman ’16 said.
The Elis’ average 8.4 steals per game and look to pick the pockets of the Dartmouth ladies, who average 16.9 turnovers per game. However, the Bulldogs cannot afford to sleep on the Big Green defense. It will test the Bulldogs’ offensive versatility, as they have four players who average at least one steal per game. According to Boardman, the Bulldogs must keep up the defensive intensity in their quest for their seventh straight win.
On Saturday, the Elis travel to Cambridge, Mass. to square off against Harvard. The Crimson are deadly from behind the arc, ranking in the top three of the Ivy League for three point percentage, three pointers made per game and points per game. The Crimson are led by a group of four seniors. Temi Fagbenle, in particular, averages a double-double with 14.5 points per game and 10.4 rebounds per game and will pose a threat to Yale on both sides of the ball. In order to adjust, Yale will look to create threats from all players.
“[We should continue] to have every offensive player on the court be a threat to score and [look] for ways to get each other open,” Katie Werner ’17 said.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs will look to pressure the Harvard women to keep the scoring threats at bay.
Both games feature opposing teams that pack a combination of prolific offenses and stout defenses, but according to Simpson , the Bulldogs look forward to working hard to continue the streak.
The balanced offensive and defensive contributions are a strength of this year’s program. But, the road games will test the Elis’ fortitude.
The Bulldogs sit alongside the No. 18 Princeton as the only teams still undefeated in Ivy League and seek to keep the streak alive this Friday and Saturday night.