The Yale women’s basketball team put together a spirited comeback in the second half against Boston College Wednesday night, but the late-game push was not enough to overcome a first half marked by offensive and defensive struggles.
For the first time in seven contests, the Elis (7–3, 0–0 Ivy) were not on the winning end when the final buzzer sounded. After falling behind by 13 points in the first half — its largest halftime deficit of the season — Yale brought the game to within three in the fourth quarter. But the team faltered down the stretch against a bigger Eagles (3–6, 0–0 ACC) lineup and gave up its most points of any game this season in the 71–64 loss.
“I feel like we all thought we could have won that game, so it hurts to lose,” guard Megan Gorman ’20 said. “Obviously, we didn’t have a strong first half and we really wish we could get that back. It was good to have a good third quarter and we had a strong push, but we wish we would have had that energy the whole game because then we would have come out with the win.”
From the tip, it was clear that Boston College had a clear edge in size, as 6-foot-4 center Mariella Fasoula took the jump ball with ease. The Eagles used size to their advantage, running their offense through their two bigs playing in the high post. Before the Bulldogs could get their bearings, Boston College had an early seven-point cushion.
Still, Yale did not fall too far behind in a frenzied and high-scoring opening frame. The two sides combined for 38 points through 10 minutes, as Boston College ended the period with a 21–17 lead.
The head-to-head matchup in the paint between Fasoula and forward Jen Berkowitz ’18 dominated the beginning stages of the game, as both teams went to their star post players early and often: The Eagles had four points and four rebounds in first quarter to counter Berkowitz’s six points and five boards.
The second 10 minutes of action, however, were more lopsided; Boston College outpaced Yale 13–4, capitalizing on its across-the-board size advantage while the Bulldogs were mired in a 2–14 shooting slump.
“At every position they were taller than us,” forward Alexandra Maund ’19 said. “We’ve never played people who, literally at every single position, were taller than us, so it was tough to see.”
The Eagles tallied assists on 11 of their 14 first-half field goals in an offensive showing that stymied a normally solid Bulldog defense. Even a full-court press from Yale did not faze Boston College as guard Martina Mosetti consistently orchestrated press breaks that led to easy buckets.
Boston College expanded its lead to as much as 16 with two minutes left in the third quarter, benefiting from stifling defense and Fasoula’s advantage in the low post. But Yale demonstrated resiliency towards the end of the period, with two free throws from Berkowitz kicking off a 12–0 run to close out the third quarter and begin the fourth. After guard Lena Munzer ’17 drained a three-pointer with 18 seconds remaining, guard Tamara Simpson ’18 forced a turnover and fed the ball to guard Mary Ann Santucci ’18, who connected on a jumper as time expired. Simpson capped the run with a trey in the fourth quarter, bringing the Bulldogs within three at 51–48.
“We allowed [Yale] to hang around,” Boston College head coach Erik Johnson said. “Even though I know we had a double-digit lead, we had a chance to put that game away early. … In the third quarter, we stretched the lead a little bit, but then they started making some plays and suddenly their confidence goes up.”
After Simpson connected on a layup to narrow the Elis’ deficit back to three, Berkowitz committed her fourth foul on the other end of the floor, forcing Yale head coach Allison Guth to remove her from the game with 7:29 to play. Gorman was tasked with matching up against Fasoula, and although Gorman played physically, the Eagle sophomore was too much to handle. The center used her position in the low post to prevent Gorman from being able to help on defense, leaving open lanes for guard Kelly Hughes and forward Georgia Pineau to attack the basket for uncontested layups.
Fasoula took advantage of the matchup herself, hitting two key baskets in the paint to power an 8–3 run spanning from Berkowitz’s exit to the media timeout with 4:10 remaining. Though Fasoula collected her fourth foul and headed to the bench shortly after, the damage had been done: The Eagles were able to maintain a cushion the rest of the way, with Fasoula subbing in for offensive possessions and sitting on the defensive end.
“[We] tried to isolate Fasoula as much as we could,” Johnson said. “I thought she was the difference in the game. Down the stretch, when we needed baskets, we were able to go get her.”
Guth pointed to improved defensive aggressiveness in the second half as a source of Yale’s surge, but said that poor play in the first 20 minutes ultimately proved too costly to overcome.
Free throws continued to be problematic for the Bulldogs, who shot just 57.9 percent from the line, nearly identical to their season average of 58.7 percent. Berkowitz was the lone bright spot, connecting on seven of eight attempts.
With the completion of two consecutive home games, the Elis will now begin a stretch of six straight road contests, including their first conference matchups against Penn and Princeton in mid-January.