After being outhustled by Army West Point on Sunday, the Yale women’s basketball team looked to bounce back in its fourth home game of the season. But Providence — a team that has historically given Yale trouble — stood in the Bulldogs’ way. The Elis have won just once in 11 meetings against Providence, with the lone 68–55 victory coming in the 2006–07 season.
On Wednesday night, Yale (3–3, 0–0 Ivy) came up short again at John J. Lee Amphitheater. The Friars (5–2, 0–0 Big East), who entered the matchup riding a three-game win streak, pulled off a gritty 55–51 victory over the Bulldogs in a close battle, in which neither team held a double-digit lead.
“Our kids worked hard defensively,” head coach Allison Guth said. “They did some really good things … for about 38 minutes. Even then, we had some inconsistencies with guarding some really good shooters. Down the stretch, we didn’t rebound. We didn’t rebound off of missed free throws, which is really upsetting and disappointing because I felt like we could have controlled the game.”
Guard Tamara Simpson ’18 led Yale on both ends of the floor, finishing with 17 points and tying her career-high with nine steals in 40 minutes of action. Guard Roxy Barahman ’20 followed with 13 points, four rebounds and three assists.
On the opposing side, Providence was carried by guard Jovana Nogic, who contributed 18 points, six rebounds and five assists. Guards Ny’Asia Franklin and Maddie Jolin also reached double figures for the Friars, scoring 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Nogic came into Wednesday night’s game as the leader of the Friar offense, which boasted the best shooting percentage in the Big East at 47 percent and the second-best three-point-shooting percentage in the nation at 49 percent prior to the matchup. Through six games, the Belgrade, Serbia native is averaging 22.5 points, 2.3 assists and 2.7 rebounds. Although Yale held her to five points in the first half, the guard exploded down the stretch for 13 second-half points.
“We scouted their big three,” Barahman said. “They were all about 50 percent 3-point shooters, so we were trying to stop them. A couple times, we got lost in transition, and they were able to hit. We need to do a better job of covering shooters. They had a lot of them this game, and it was something we never faced before.”
The Elis came out looking aggressive early, scoring the first five points of the game off a 3-pointer by Simpson and a layup by Barahman. The Bulldogs hustled hard at the outset, grabbing four offensive rebounds in a single possession during their 5–0 run. The Friars would match the Bulldogs’ hustle, however, responding with a 7–0 run of their own to take the lead.
After Yale’s quick 5–0 start that took all of 53 seconds, it cooled off significantly for the rest of the first period, scoring only four points in the remaining 9:07. The Bulldogs trailed 11–9 heading into the second quarter. The story of the rest of the first half was the Elis’ ability to stay within striking distance by forcing extra possessions. Although the Friars shot a scorching 61 percent from the field in the first half, the Bulldogs were able to force 14 first-half turnovers that gave them 12 more shot attempts than Providence. At halftime, the Bulldogs trailed, 27–24.
The Friars came out hot from three, with Nogic and guard Clara Che scoring two quick baskets from downtown out of the break. Providence increased their lead to 33–26 after two minutes of play in the second half. The Bulldogs came out of the break hungry for Friar turnovers, though, earning themselves a 7–0 run.
Gabby Nelson ’19 hit from deep to put the Bulldogs up 37–35 with nearly five minutes left in the third quarter. The Bulldogs held a 40–37 lead and the momentum heading into the final quarter after outscoring the Friars by six in the third.
The Bulldogs were able to extend their lead to 42–37 in the fourth quarter after a made layup by forward Ellen Margaret Andrews ’18, but the Friars would answer with another scoring run. A 3-pointer by Che and a jumper by Franklin, followed by six consecutive points by Nogic capped off an 11–3 Providence that put them back on top.
The Bulldogs would fight back to take a 51–50 lead after Simpson recorded one of her team-high nine steals, en route to a coast-to-coast layup. However, Franklin answered with a clutch reverse layup at the 1:47 mark of the fourth quarter that would put the Friars ahead: a lead which they would not relinquish.
The Elis had their opportunities to retake the lead down the stretch, but the Friar’s offensive rebounding sealed the game. Down just one score, Yale was unable to secure the board, first after a miss by Nogic with 12 seconds to go in the game and then after a miss by Che at the free throw line with six seconds remaining.
“Down the stretch they made some important plays,” Simpson said. “They outworked us. We were just making bad decisions out there. We really needed to make smarter decisions, hunker down on defense, and get more rebounds. They just wanted it a little bit more than us. We just have to work on that.”
Yale will take on Binghamton in an away game this Saturday.
Jimmy Chen | firstname.lastname@example.org
Cristofer Zillo | email@example.com