After coming just short of snapping Princeton’s undefeated 22-game start to the season, the Yale women’s basketball team will travel to Cornell and Columbia this Friday and Sunday. Currently on a three-game losing streak, the Bulldogs hope to repeat history this weekend, having just defeated Cornell 60–53 and Columbia 55–47 three weeks ago.
“The disappointment of losing last weekend will serve as fuel for us to come out with intensity on Friday and Sunday as we look to gain two more wins,” forward Katie Werner ’17 said.
The Big Red (14–8, 5–3 Ivy) is currently tied with Yale (11–11, 5–3) for third in the Ivy League. Leading Cornell in scoring is sophomore forward Nia Marshall, who tops the Ivy League with an impressive 17.7 points per game average. Marshall won Ivy League Player of the Week for the fourth time this season, and fifth time in her career, after scoring 51 total points against Harvard and Dartmouth a week ago.
In the team’s latest game against Harvard, Marshall was 9-of-10 from the charity line and achieved a 27-point, 10-rebound double-double.
Following Marshall is fellow sophomore forward Nicholle Aston, who averages 12.1 points per game, 3.2 points more than the average of Yale’s leading active player, guard Tamara Simpson ’18. The 6’2” forward logged double-digit points in both games last weekend and ranks fourth in rebounds in the Ivy League with eight boards per game.
“We are excited and ready to bounce back tomorrow against Cornell,” guard Mary Ann Santucci ’18 said. “We know they are going to be as fired up as ever and full of energy, so our goal is to bring that same level of energy from the get go.”
On Sunday, the Bulldogs will head to New York City to take on Columbia.
Although the Lions (7–15, 1–7) currently rank last in the conference, they will not be an easy opponent, having just defeated the Crimson last Friday 59–43. Sophomore forward Tori Oliver ranks third in scoring in the Ivy League at 17 points per game, and she will likely pose the biggest offensive threat against the Bulldogs. In Columbia’s previous matchup against Yale, Oliver scored 11 points and was 3-of-6 from the free throw line and 4-of-10 from the field.
Defensively, senior forward Amara Mbionwu leads the team in rebounds with 7.9 per game, 1.4 more than Werner — Yale’s leading rebounder — and enough to rank fifth in the conference.
Werner added that since both Cornell and Columbia have great post players, the Elis, in their preparation for this weekend, are especially focused on their post defense and help rotation.
While the team is eager to get back into the winning streak, it is choosing to focus on the process rather than the outcome, according to guard Nyasha Sarju ’16.
“We definitely want to get back on the winning train but I think we are just taking it day by day,” Sarju said. “[We are] trying to focus not on the outcome but on what is in our control — like our defensive effort, taking smart shots, running the floor, rebounding and stopping other teams’ transitions.”
The Bulldogs have just six games left in the regular season.