In the first weekend of spring break, the Yale women’s basketball team finished its 2014–15 season with back-to-back games against Harvard on Friday and Dartmouth. Though the Bulldogs suffered a disappointing 68–63 loss to the Crimson, they finished the season strong with an overwhelming 53–28 victory against the Big Green on senior night, landing them a tie for third-place in the Ivy League with Harvard.
“I believe the last two games of the season were arguably the best we’ve played since the start of Ivy League play,” guard Tamara Simpson ’18 said.
Despite shooting 42.2 percent from the field on the first Friday of break, the Elis (13–15, 7–7 Ivy) were not able to overcome the Crimson (14–14, 7–7), which shot a season-high 54.9 percent. Junior forward AnnMarie Healy alone contributed her season-high 24 points and was an impressive 10-for-11 from the field. Additionally, 6’4” senior forward Temi Fagbenle, who leads the Ivy League in rebounds, grabbed a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Even against the Crimson’s aggressive offense, Yale put up a vehement performance that was much improved from its last game against Penn, when the Elis only shot 28 percent from the field. Compared to Yale’s previous encounter with Harvard, when the Crimson won 65–55 with only two lead changes, this game featured 10 lead exchanges, with Yale leading by 4 at the 10:19 mark of the second half. But at 6:39, the Bulldogs lost their lead and were never able to regain it.
Despite the loss to Harvard, Yale was able to bounce back and make senior night special for captain and lone senior Sarah Halejian ’15, according to guard Lena Munzer ’17, when Yale broke its three-game losing streak over the Big Green (14–14, 5–9) in the final game of the season.
“As a team, we made it a goal to end the season on a high point — playing our hardest, outworking our opponents and playing together,” Simpson said. “This goal was really important to us since everyone on the team will be returning next year, therefore ending the season with two great games will hopefully carry on to our work ethic in next year’s season.”
Against the Big Green, the Bulldogs shot 33.9 percent from the field and held Dartmouth to only 22.2 percent. Furthermore, the Bulldogs limited sophomore guard Fanni Szabo — ranked second in the Ivy League in shooting — to merely two points.
“Against Dartmouth we played incredible pressure defense and just let that flow into our offense,” guard Nyasha Sarju ’16 said.
Despite the Big Green’s 13–8 head start, the Elis took the lead at the 5:59 mark of the first half and never looked back. Completely dominating the court in the second half, Yale added 31 points while limiting Dartmouth to only 13 points on five-for-27 shooting, taking the largest lead of 27 points with 54 seconds left in the game.
The highlight of the game belonged to Simpson, who played the best game of her inaugural season with a career-high 20 points with 10-for-16 shooting and six steals. Following Simpson in shooting were Sarju and guard Whitney Wyckoff ’16, each of whom scored ten points individually.
“We finished the season playing Yale basketball,” Sarju said. “It was a fun way to end our season.”
Although Halejian’s final season was shortened by an injury, she will be playing professional basketball overseas after Yale.
Correction, March 25: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Yale women’s basketball team finished in fourth place in the Ivy League in the 2014–15 season. In fact, the team tied with Harvard for third place in the conference.