In a game that included numerous momentum shifts, it was the last that proved too much for the Yale women’s basketball team to handle Wednesday night in a 69–56 loss at St. John’s.
Although the Bulldogs (6–5, 0–0 Ivy) never held the lead after midway through the second quarter, they brought the deficit to just three points with six minutes remaining in the contest. But St. John’s (6–1, 0–0 Big East), a team that has made the NCAA Tournament in five of the last six seasons, rattled off a 17–3 run in the final frame to put the game out of reach and send the Elis home with an away record of 0–3.
“We did a good job fighting back in the third [quarter] but had some crucial missed rotations and still let them get to the basket too much,” guard Nyasha Sarju ’16 said. “Against a good team like St. John’s, we can’t have the lulls we had tonight if we want to get a win.”
Sarju, who missed the Bulldogs’ game on Sunday with a sprained ankle, returned to the court and made an immediate contribution with 18 points and six rebounds. The leading Bulldog scorer in the game was guard Tamara Simpson ’18, who posted 20 points just four days after scoring a career-high 22 points against Wagner.
Simpson’s offensive success could be seen right from the start, as 10 of her points came in the first nine minutes to give Yale an early first-quarter lead.
In the second quarter, however, the Red Storm came back and earned the upper hand, outscoring Yale 16–4, including a 12-point run that lasted much of the quarter, to take a 31–21 lead at halftime. Yale was able to score on just one of 11 shots from the field while turning the ball over a total of nine times.
“We came out strong but failed to sustain that momentum in the second quarter,” captain and guard Whitney Wyckoff ’16 said. “We had lulls that we had trouble overcoming.”
The Bulldogs were able to cut their deficit to seven by the end of a high-scoring third quarter, reducing the St. John’s lead to as little as two points during one moment. That comeback was short-lived, however, as the Big Storm responded with a dominant fourth quarter.
The 17–3 St. John’s run near the end of the game included nine points from St. John’s guard Danaejah Grant, who finished with a game-high 23 points. An All-Big East second-team selection last season, Grant hit 64 percent of her shots in the final period.
“She’s a great player and it takes a focused and intense defensive effort each time out to stop her,” Sarju said. “We went toe-to-toe defensively too frequently and got beat, and our help-side defense was not the presence it needed to be. Drives to the basket by more than just [Grant] were a problem for us tonight.”
Subpar shooting and a high turnover rate also hurt the Bulldogs. Although Simpson and Sarju combined for 38 points, their efforts were not enough, as four Red Storm players were able to hit double digits in points.
St. John’s also hit 50 percent of its field goals, compared to just 37.9 percent for the Bulldogs. Although Yale’s turnover rate has dropped from a record-high of 29 against Manhattan a week ago, the total of 19 still presented problems for the team, as St. John’s was able to score 16 points off of those giveaways.
“We just really needed to focus on getting back to playing our game at our own pace in order to execute on offense and make stops on the defensive end,” Simpson said.
Yale will next play Stony Brook at home on Saturday. The game is slated to tip off at 2 p.m.
Daniela Brighenti contributed reporting.