After a season-worst 25.0 percent mark from the field on Friday in Ithaca, the Yale women’s basketball team rebounded against Columbia yesterday, shooting 46.6 percent en route to a 67–57 win. With the victory, the Bulldogs earned a weekend split and ended a four-game losing streak.
The Elis (12–12, 6–4 Ivy) are now tied for third place in the conference with Cornell (15–9, 6–4). With just four games remaining, however, the chances of overcoming their four-game deficit to conference-leading — and undefeated — Princeton seem slim.
“That was a great team win against Columbia,” guard Nyasha Sarju ’16 said. “I think we saw how effective we are when we attack the basket, and if we can hit free throws I think we will be tough to guard.”
In Friday’s contest, Yale’s offense put up a dismal performance, finishing just 15 of 60 on the night in the team’s worst shooting performance since a 14–60 effort against Princeton on Feb. 10, 2013. The Bulldogs mustered just 22 points in the first half, including a 7:18 stretch where they shot 0–11 and committed five turnovers, turning a 13–11 lead into a 23–13 deficit.
At halftime, the Elis trailed 31–22. After the half, they managed even fewer points than in the first, putting up only 15. Yale hit just six of its 28 second-half attempts, and Cornell went 11–23 to finish with the 56–37 win.
Yale was hampered by its inactivity at the free-throw line. The Bulldogs attempted just two free throws all game, while the Big Red had 18 shots from the charity stripe.
In addition, Cornell dominated down low, with 28 points in the paint compared to Yale’s 12.
Perhaps the only bright spot for the Bulldogs in Friday’s game was their defense on Cornell forward Nia Marshall, the top scorer in the Ivy League. Marshall had only six shot attempts in 29 minutes of court action and totaled just nine points, a far cry from her season average of 17.3 points per game.
“This weekend, we pressured both teams and forced turnovers which resulted in transition points,” center Emmy Allen ’16 said. “The post players really worked on limiting Marshall’s touches and playing our unique post defense.”
But Sunday’s game at Columbia was just the remedy the Bulldogs needed. The Elis’ 0.466 shooting percentage was their third-best output of the season, and they managed to force 21 Lion turnovers.
Yale’s defense was even more suffocating than those turnovers might suggest. Columbia made just 35.6 percent of its shots, and the Lions only kept the game close thanks to an outstanding 21–24 mark from the free throw line, including a 13–16 effort from forward Tori Oliver, the game’s top scorer.
The key to Yale’s win was a 12–0 run that spanned the final 1:49 of the first half and the first 2:35 of the second half. That run broke the game open from a five-point advantage to a 42–25 lead. The Lions never got within six points for the rest of the game.
Guard Whitney Wyckoff ’16 scored a career-high 18 points on 8–13 shooting to pace the Bulldogs. Twelve of her points came in the first half, during which the team shot 17–34 from the field.
“[Wyckoff] was a huge leader for us,” forward Meredith Boardman ’16 said. “She stepped up her game and played a phenomenal game against Columbia. She just had so much poise and took advantage of the fact [that] they couldn’t stop her driving. She was a crucial person to have on the court.”
Wyckoff was not the only Eli to impress statistically. Allen had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and guard Tamara Simpson ’18 scored 11 points. Simpson also excelled on the defensive end, contributing a career-high seven steals.
The final margin of victory could have been much greater, but Yale squandered its newfound ability to get to the free-throw line. Less than 48 hours after attempting only two charity shots, the Elis got to the line 27 times, yet they made only 12 of those attempts, well below the team’s 65.7 percent average.
“In the Cornell game, we did not play with intelligence or intensity. It’s really hard to win games that way,” Wyckoff said. “In the Columbia game, we played with great intelligence and intensity. We also hit some more shots than we did against Cornell. When those things happen, we are a hard team to beat.”
Yale embarks on its last road trip of the season this weekend, taking on the lone unbeaten team in the nation — No. 16 Princeton — and Penn.