The Yale women’s basketball team went on the road this weekend and secured a dominant victory over Dartmouth on Friday, but was unable to keep rival Harvard at bay on Saturday.
With the loss to Harvard, the Bulldogs fell from atop the Ivy League standings, just one game behind undefeated and No. 18 Princeton at 5–1 in conference play.
“We should probably be happy with a split on the road, as it is very hard to play on the road in the Ivy League,” head coach Chris Gobrecht said. “I blame myself partly for not putting the time into preparing the team for Harvard’s unique 3–2 zone.”
On Friday night, the Bulldogs went up against Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire. Due to its strong pressure defense, Yale rapidly took control of the game — Dartmouth did not take the lead at any point during the match. The Elis put up 60 points and held the Big Green to a measly 46-point output. Riding a seven-game winning streak, Yale’s longest since the 1979–80 season, the Bulldogs then traveled to Cambridge for their second game in two days. But this time, Yale was unable to secure a win, losing 65–55.
“Our energy and our drive were there but we were missing coherency,” guard Tamara Simpson ’18 said.
The Bulldogs did not, however, lack coherence playing against Dartmouth. Yale strung together solid performances on both sides of the court in its first game of the weekend.
Defensively, the Bulldogs totaled 10 steals, forced the Green into 20 total turnovers and kept the Big Green’s shooting percentage down to 26 percent. Additionally, the Elis’ defense kept Dartmouth’s star player at bay. Guard Fanni Szabo, the Ivy League’s leading scorer, scored only 11 points on 5–17 shooting after coming into the game averaging 18.1 points per contest.
“I believe we made pressure the entire game, and they couldn’t run their set properly,” Simpson said. “We were constantly in their faces and making them uncomfortable like they’re not used to.”
Yale also dominated the game offensively. In the first 12 minutes of the match, the Elis were shooting at a 55 percent clip. Yale pushed its advantage to a high of 18 points at the 7:54 mark, and during the second half, the lead never went below eight points.
However, Yale’s tenacity did not prove enough to secure a win against the Crimson.
“Harvard is a team you don’t want to let get on a roll and I think they felt in control the majority of the game,” guard Nyasha Sarju ’16 said.
Sarju explained that even though the Bulldogs did play well in some aspects, they often were not able to capitalize when they got a steal or made a good play. She added that when Harvard ran its zone, Yale panicked and did not react well.
Although evenly matched in field goal percentage — Harvard’s 37.5 percent mark just barely outpacing the Elis’ 37.1 percent shooting — Harvard was able to capitalize on its plays while Yale was not.
Though their defense registered 12 steals during the game, the Elis did not convert these into points, with just 17 points on 23 Crimson turnovers, allowing Harvard to build up a 10-point lead by halftime.
“We definitely didn’t play our best game against Harvard, and we beat ourselves in that game,” Simpson said. “I don’t believe they are a better team than us; we just weren’t at our best.”
Although Sarju scored 14 points, the most among the Bulldogs, and Simpson continued to score in the double digits with 13 points, no other Eli scored more than six points.
Harvard, by comparison, had a total of 35 points coming from senior forwards Erin McDonnell and Temi Faghenle, who scored 18 and 17 points respectively.
Guard Lena Munzer ’17 said playing Harvard is always an emotional game, and the only thing Yale can do now is to learn, move on and focus on the two tough teams that the Bulldogs will play this coming weekend in Penn and Princeton.
“Losing is never fun, especially when every game means so much in the Ivy League,” Sarju said. “But our goal is just to go out every game and play hard, intelligently, and play like Yale. We didn’t do that, and we lost.”
The Bulldogs’ next game is at home this Friday against Penn at 7 p.m.