The Yale women’s basketball team put a scare into both its opponents this weekend — including Princeton, the nation’s last undefeated team — but ultimately, the Bulldogs were swept, in large part due to a 0.308 shooting percentage in their two games.
The Bulldogs (11–11, 5–3 Ivy) went into their first game Friday night against Penn hoping to win on the strength of their pressure defense, which was ranked second in the conference in forcing turnovers and first in turnover margin with a +4.0 mark. But Yale picked up just 13 points off 18 forced turnovers en route to a 61–42 loss.
The following evening, the Elis proved to be a strong adversary against No. 16 Princeton, but were still unable to secure a win despite attempting 28 more shots than the Tigers.
“We definitely proved a lot to ourselves and the rest of the league,” guard Lena Munzer ’17 said. “It’s tough to fall short after we played all of our hearts out, but there was a tremendous amount of growth against Princeton. We took a big step [Saturday night]. We just have to keep moving forward.”
The Quakers (14–7, 5–2) came into the game Friday night 1.5 games behind the Bulldogs. While Yale’s defense was not up to its usual standards on Friday, it was the Bulldogs’ offense that undermined the team. Yale scored a season-low point total of 42 points compared to the Quakers’ 61.
The Bulldogs shot a measly 31.7 percent, including a 20.0 percent showing in the second half. Even though the Elis trailed by five points at halftime, they only scored 14 points in the second half, and were unable to catch up to the Quakers.
“It just happened to be an off night shooting for us,” forward Katie Werner ’17 said.
Guard Nyasha Sarju ’16 scored the most points for Yale, notching 13 on 6–15 shooting. She was the only player who scored in double digits. Guard Tamara Simpson ’18, one of the top scorers as of late, finished second on the squad with eight points. In contrast, three Quakers scored in the double digits.
The following day proved no better for the Bulldogs. The Elis faced off against Ivy-best Princeton (23–0, 7–0). Although Yale lost 56–50, the Bulldogs presented the biggest threat of the entire season to Princeton’s undefeated record, keeping the game closer than any of Princeton’s opponents have this season.
“I think on Saturday night we proved as a team that we belong in this league and are a top contender,” Werner said. “It was disappointing to come so close and not come out with the win.”
The Tigers came in with a 25.8-point average margin of victory. Princeton entered averaging a victory margin of 32.0 points in conference games, with wins over Harvard and Columbia by 50 and 39, respectively. But against the Bulldogs, the Tigers only managed to win by six.
The Bulldogs’ strong defense also held the Tigers to only 56 points, 22 points less than their season average.
“Having them on their heels the whole game showed that we belong at the top of the Ivy League,” guard Whitney Wyckoff ’16 said.
But on offense, the Elis struggled for the second time this weekend. Their shooting percentage was 30.0 percent, compared to a 45.2 percent mark for Princeton. Sarju and Simpson shot a combined 3–22 from the field.
However, at the 18:49 mark of the second half, Simpson left the game due to dizziness. Her absence was crucial, as Simpson is the Bulldogs’ leading active scorer with 8.9 points per game. She also ranks fifth in the Ivy League with 1.9 steals per game.
Despite its poor shooting percentage, Yale was down by only three points at halftime, and continued to stay close to Princeton until the end of the game. Although the Tigers were shooting at a much higher percentage, they only took 42 shots throughout the game, while Yale attempted 70.
Despite the two losses, the Bulldogs are ready to face up the remainder of the season.
“If anything, this weekend has fired us up even more,” guard Mary Ann Santucci ’18 said. “We know what we are capable of and we are ready for the challenges to come.”
The Bulldogs’ will now travel to Ithaca, New York, to tip off against Cornell on Friday night.