In the first two-game home Ivy weekend of the season, the Yale women’s basketball team could not pull out a win over Dartmouth or Harvard.
Despite a 13-point lead at the half, the Bulldogs (11–14, 2–6 Ivy) could not stop the Big Green (9–15, 4–4) offense late in the game on Friday night en route to a 68–63 loss. One day later, Yale again found itself in the lead early, this time against the Crimson (10–11, 5–3), but again the Bulldogs could not muster enough offense in the latter half of the game to fall 72–69.
“In both games we built up 20 point leads and then let them come back,” guard Mary Ann Santucci ’18 said. “It was us going through lulls while the other team made a run, and then not clamping the bleeding fast enough.”
Guard Tamara Simpson ’18, who averaged 15.5 points per game over the weekend, stood out on the defensive end on Friday. The sophomore guard registered a career-high nine steals against Dartmouth. In doing so, she set the Yale single-season steals record with 79, breaking the mark of 74 steals that was previously held for 32 years by Sue Johnson ’86.
Simpson’s efforts led a Yale squad that entered the weekend on a four-game losing streak. However, Dartmouth had also been struggling as of late, having not won in its three prior outings. The Bulldogs also entered the game with an edge according to recent history — Yale had won its past five meetings with Dartmouth — and a sixth straight win appeared in the works in the early going.
Locked at 15–15 with 1:30 remaining in the first quarter, guard Meg McIntyre ’17 knocked down two three-pointers to give Yale a six-point cushion. McIntyre, Simpson and captain and guard Whitney Wyckoff ’16 combined to score 19 of Yale’s 21 points in the opening period. The Bulldogs extended their edge to 13 points by the halftime break behind 12 second-quarter points between Simpson and guard Nyasha Sarju ’16.
Although Yale held a double-digit edge, Dartmouth closed the first half on a 7–0 run and carried that momentum into the third quarter. The Big Green outscored the Bulldogs by four to shrink the deficit to nine points heading into the final period. After Yale shot greater-than-50 percent from the field in the first half, it converted on just 26.7 percent of its attempts from the floor in the third quarter.
Yale clung to its lead in the fourth, still possessing a seven-point lead with 4:31 remaining in the contest. However, Dartmouth rattled off 12 unanswered points to build a five-point lead with less-than-half a minute remaining. Big Green forward Lakin Roland scored six in a row on her own, as part of a 15-point quarter. In fact, she outscored Yale by herself as the Bulldogs managed just 12 points, to Dartmouth’s 26.
A late three-pointer by McIntyre with 13 seconds remaining was Yale’s lone basket in the final 4:51 of the game, enabling Dartmouth to complete the comeback victory.
Despite the inability to close late, the Bulldogs did improve upon its turnover problems, committing just 11 as compared to Dartmouth’s 20. The Elis, who average more than 16 giveaways a game, scored 26 points off Dartmouth turnovers.
Simpson keyed many of those Dartmouth miscues, with Yale compiling 16 steals as a team while Dartmouth managed a mere three.
On Saturday night, the additional hype of facing Harvard helped key another Yale quick start.
“Everyone was pretty excited and fired up to play Harvard, and that definitely influenced our play,” Simpson said. “Even though we didn’t get the result we were hoping, it was a great game.”
This excitement was seen right from the opening tip, as after quickly falling behind 4–0, Yale answered with 10 consecutive points. Overall in the quarter, the Bulldogs shot 50 percent from the field and 72.7 percent from the three-point range.
After closing the quarter with a nine-point lead, the Elis extended the lead to 21 with two minutes remaining in the first half behind a 17–3 run. However, Harvard responded in tremendous fashion, rattling off 14 consecutive points in the final two minutes of the half thanks in large part to three three-pointers.
Though Yale scored the first four points of the second half, Harvard again answered, utilizing a 15–6 run to cut the deficit to four. By the start of the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs held a five-point advantage.
A three-pointer by Harvard’s Madeline Raster leveled the game with 5:26 remaining, and the lead changed hands three times in the final four minutes. A layup for guard Lena Munzer ’17 pushed Yale ahead 66–65 with 2:55 remaining but Harvard scored the next six points to seize control.
A Sarju three-pointer with eight seconds left pulled Yale within two points, but the final buzzer rang before the Bulldogs could get another shot off, ultimately falling by three points.
Both defeats, marked by strong first halves but poor finishes, saw double-digit scoring efforts from Sarju and Simpson, who continue to lead the team in scoring.
Now alone in sixth place in the conference, and with six more losses than first-place Penn, the Bulldogs were disappointed they could not turn around their conference season over the weekend.
“There were some very bright spots in both of our games, but we couldn’t sustain those for 40 minutes,” Wyckoff said. “In the second half of both games we had mental lapses both offensively and defensively that cost us the game. When we get up by a lot, we sometimes take our foot off the gas and stop attacking, so we need to improve on that in the future.”
Yale will continue its second half of the Ivy season next weekend with a pair of home games against the top two ranked teams in the conference.
The Bulldogs will face Princeton (17–4, 6–1), to which they lost on Jan. 30th by just five points, on Friday. Yale will then have a rematch on Saturday against first-place Penn (18–3, 7–0).
“We played with a lot of heart this weekend, and nothing can take that away from us,” Munzer said. “[We] still have things to figure out, but if it came easy, it wouldn’t be worth it.”
Tipoff against Princeton is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.