Coming off a sweeping win against Manhattan earlier this week, the Yale women’s basketball team fell 65–61 to Army on Thursday, ending Yale’s undefeated record at home in John J. Lee Amphitheater.
The Bulldogs (5–4, 0–0 Ivy) seemed poised to win their sixth game after ending the first half with a commanding 32–22 lead. A 15-point second half from guard Nyasha Sarju ’16 — part of a 23-point performance overall from the senior — was not enough for Yale as the Black Knights (5–1, 0–0 Patriot) roared back with 43 points in the third and fourth quarters.
“We had an incredible start to the game,” guard Lena Munzer ’17 said. “The energy was there and the defense was amazing. We really needed that energy to carry over into the second half.”
Starting the game off strong offensively, the Bulldogs led at the end of the first quarter with a score of 16–9. Sarju, who is fourth in the Ivy League with 16.9 points per game, tallied six of those early points to help put the Elis ahead early on.
Yale continued its aggressive offense into the second quarter with another 16 points, especially capitalizing on fouls with six points from the free-throw line. The Bulldogs ended the half with an ample 10-point lead.
Though Yale’s offense did not let up in the third quarter, adding another 13 points, the Elis could not match the renewed vigor with which the Black Knights returned to the court after halftime. Army scored 24 points in the frame — more points than it had in the entire first half — to take a one-point lead heading into the final 10 minutes of play.
“We came out sluggish, and Army was fired up after a rough first half,” Munzer said.
In the first six minutes of the fourth quarter, both teams were neck-and-neck, but the Black Knights rattled off a 10-point run to give themselves a 61–53 lead with 2:09 remaining in the game.
Despite the efforts of the Bulldogs — including four sunken free-throw shots in the last two minutes — they were not able to overcome this deficit.
Players noted frustration after the tight loss, which came against an Army squad that has lost just one game — to No. 14 Duke — and was named last year’s Patriot League champion.
“It was a tough loss for us because West Point has a similar style of play to some of the best teams in the Ivy League,” guard Clara Mokri ’18 said. “So we definitely took this loss the hardest of any other we’ve had so far.”
The Knights lead the all-time series with Yale 18–11. In their latest matchup in 2013, Army won with a 68–56 score in 2013.
Although their offense could not match Army’s in the second half, the Bulldogs still led their opponents in field-goal percentage with a 37.5 percent clip, while the Black Knights shot 30.9 percent. However, Army made up for this difference on free throws, draining 81.3 percent of shots from the charity stripe to Yale’s 60 percent rate.
“This [was] a huge game for us,” guard Mary Ann Santucci ’18 said. “Army is a really good team who we have had trouble [with] in the past, but we felt prepared to get the win tonight.”
In addition to Sarju’s 23 points, guards Whitney Wyckoff ’16 and Tamar Simpson ’18 paced the Elis with 13 and nine points, respectively.
Wyckoff also led the team on the glass, with eight of the team’s 35 rebounds, and added three of Yale’s seven assists.
The Bulldogs will look to redeem themselves on Sunday in a game against Wagner (1–4, 0–0 Northeast), who are coming off their first win and will look to continue this streak in New Haven.
The contest, the third of the six games that Yale will play on its home court before winter break, tips off at 2 p.m.