Courtesy Yale Athletics
The Yale women’s basketball team followed up its win at Wagner on Wednesday night with its largest margin of victory of the season, routing LIU Brooklyn Thursday night to win its fifth straight game.
The Bulldogs (6–2, 0–0 Ivy) never trailed against the winless Blackbirds (0–6, 0–0 Northeast), using a balanced scoring attack and tight defense to maintain control throughout its 75–44 victory. A night after struggling in the early part of the game to defend Wagner, the Elis turned in a much stronger effort, holding LIU Brooklyn to just 26.8 percent shooting from the field and the fewest points Yale has ceded to any team this season. Four players also scored in double digits. With the victory, the Bulldogs doubled their road win total from the 2015–16 campaign and triumphed in their fourth consecutive away game.
“We talked about how we play defense with pressure and our assignments,” head coach Allison Guth said. “We absolutely came out with a focus and integrity about the way we played with each other and guarding together today. I’m really proud of them.”
The game got off to a slow start, as neither team was able to score in the first two minutes of regulation. The Bulldogs and Blackbirds combined for six missed shots from the field before guard Lena Munzer ’17 got on the board with a score from three-point range. Forward Jen Berkowitz ’18, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Week, followed this shot with a three-pointer of her own, showing off her improved range this season. Berkowitz tallied 16 points in the contest and extended her double-digit scoring streak to six games.
Yale kept the momentum going as it built an 8–0 lead before allowing LIU Brooklyn to score its first points. The rest of the first frame went Yale’s way as the Bulldogs made two more three-pointers en route to an 18–11 advantage. Six of the eight Elis who played during the quarter registered points to build Yale’s lead.
Not much changed in the second quarter of action as the Blackbirds were only able to put up nine points against a dominant Yale defense.
Offensively, the Bulldog bench scored seven of Yale’s 17 second-quarter points on a night when the team’s reserves outscored the those of LIU Brooklyn, 25–16. Guard Meghan McIntyre ’17 led this offensive charge in her new role as sixth player after assuming a starting role in the first four games of the season.
“It’s definitely different than last year, but whatever my team needs me to do and whatever role that the coaching staff sees me in is something that I’ll take to heart,” McIntyre said. “I like to be a spark off the bench; I think that’s really important, something we need, so I’m enjoying this right now and I’m just playing.”
Yale immediately resumed its domination after the halftime break. Guard Tamara Simpson ’18 drained a three-pointer on the first possession of the third quarter and, after two Blackbird misses, hit a layup to double up on LIU Brooklyn 40–20. Recently elevated to the starting lineup, Simpson posted 14 points as part of the multipronged Bulldog offense.
The remaining minutes of the second half demanded that Yale avoid mental lapses and a drop in intensity. The Bulldogs answered the call and built on their already sizable lead as they closed out comfortably in Brooklyn.
The Elis played their second straight game without point guard Roxy Barahman ’20, who broke a bone in her hand on Nov. 27 at Holy Cross. Nevertheless, 11 players saw game action Thursday night due in part to the large lead throughout.
“It was a total team effort tonight,” Guth said. “I feel that everyone who came in did their job, and primarily from a defensive standpoint. Offensively, I liked the way we shared the ball and pushed it in transition.”
Guard Mary Ann Santucci ’18, who has started every game of the season, continued to see the most minutes at point guard, especially in Barahman’s absence. Santucci has committed four fouls in each of her last two games, however, limiting her minutes while avoiding ejection.
Averting foul trouble has been a point of emphasis for the Elis so far in their nonconference schedule, given their approach to defense.
“We get fired up when we get defensive possessions and defensive stops [unlike other teams],” Santucci said before Wednesday’s game. “With the defensive pressure and that kind of style of play, the key for us is to stay out of foul trouble. … We’re more foul-prone when we’re playing super-aggressive defense and getting up on people.”
Following the back-to-back weeknight games, the Bulldogs will return to the court Saturday to host Albany and conclude the busiest week of their season. Albany faced a challenging early-season schedule, dropping matchups to Kentucky and Miami, which are currently ranked No. 17 and No. 18, respectively, in the Associated Press national poll.
“I think we’re going to have to focus on sharing the ball and taking care of the ball against the pressure defense we’re going to see on Saturday,” Guth said. “We’ve got to turn around in one practice really quickly and [focus on] that.”
Albany and Yale are scheduled to face off at 4 p.m. at the John J. Lee Amphitheater on Saturday.