After returning from their first road trip on the schedule, the Yale women’s basketball team struggled to match the aggressive playing style of Army West Point, falling 82–65 in its first home loss of the season.
The Bulldogs (3–2, 0–0 Ivy) returned to John J. Lee Amphitheater to take on West Point (4–2, 0–0 Patriot) after tallying a 1–1 record on the road trip over break. The Elis scored a resounding 82–72 victory over TCU on Tuesday, in which they shot a scorching 53 percent from the field. The Bulldogs’ road loss came last Sunday against the Kansas Jayhawks, in which they lost an 81–75 nail-biter that came down to the last few possessions. The Black Knights came into yesterday’s matchup riding the momentum of a two game-winning streak, including emphatic wins over LIU-Brooklyn and New Jersey Tech.
The Bulldogs were led by impressive performances from their starting lineup. Guard Tamara Simpson ’18 carried the offense with a season-high 22 points, along with six rebounds and four steals. Forward Jen Berkowitz ’18 put up 15 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, marking the fifth-straight game that both Simpson and Berkowitz scored in double figures. On the opposing end, the Black Knights had a balanced effort offensively with four players scoring in double figures. They were led by forward Aliyah Murray, who notched 15 points and 11 rebounds for her first double double of the season, as well as making seven of eight shots from the foul line.
“I was impressed with Army,” head coach Allison Guth said. “They were more aggressive, more hungry, and I thought that’s what the difference in the game was. Obviously both teams turned it over quite a bit, and those turnovers really hurt us. But I would say the difference was toughness, heart and strength up the middle.”
The Black Knights’ aggression was on full display during their defensive possessions. They hounded the Bulldogs throughout the game, disrupting the Yale offense by deflecting passes and creating loose-ball opportunities that they converted into steals. On the boards, although the Elis boasted a clear height advantage, they were outrebounded 44 to 34.
Although the Bulldogs were able to remain competitive during the first half, the Black Knights’ play style gradually created enough separation that allowed them to hold a 12-point lead by the end of the third quarter. The Bulldogs were unable to battle back in the fourth quarter despite forcing eight turnovers in the period, as the Black Knights ended the game on a 12–3 run.
Another key factor that turned the game in favor of Army West Point was the sizable discrepancy at the charity stripe. Yale struggled with foul trouble from the outset, and by halftime, six Bulldogs had two personal fouls. In total, the Elis were whistled for 31 personal fouls, leading to 36 attempts at the free throw line for the Black Knights. The visiting team converted 28 out of the 36 tries from the foul line, while the Bulldogs failed to be as efficient, shooting a dismal nine of 16 from the stripe.
“Our team values pressure defense, so a major piece of adversity our team struggled with was getting into foul trouble early in the game,” Simpson said. “A lot of unfavorable calls throughout the game made it difficult to consistently play our style of basketball, and it was tough to really get into a rhythm. However, we were successful in the paint, so our coach encouraged us to attack the paint and get it to our post players.”
Carrying the offensive load for the Black Knights this season is forward Madison Hovren. Before entering Sunday’s matchup, the 5-foot-11-inch junior averaged a double double with 16.4 points and 11.8 rebounds through five games. The Elis locked her down, forcing her to shoot an abysmal 4–14 from the field. However, she managed to drop 14 points and grab 11 boards, earning her fifth double-double of the season.
The Elis were without starter Tori Andrew ’21 for the second game this season, after going down with an ankle injury against Kansas. According to Guth, the team is hoping to have her healthy before the end of this year’s campaign.
Andrew’s long-range prowess was missed Sunday, as Yale could not manage to hit a shot from beyond the arc in nine total attempts. Sunday’s matchup was the first game in which the Bulldogs shot under 10 times from beyond the arc, and also the first in which they were unable to net a single score from distance. Before the game against the Black Knights, the Elis averaged 27 three-point attempts per game.
“They outworked us 100 percent,” Berkowitz said. “We need to go in there and play harder. We need to win those 50-50s. I don’t believe that they truly did want it more. We did really want it, but they showed that they wanted it more on the court.”
Yale will face Providence at 6 p.m. on Wednesday night.
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