A red-hot Brown team rolled into New Haven on a 10-game winning streak for the Ivy League Conference opener on Friday. Bolstered by an impressive defensive performance led by guard Tamara Simpson ’18, the Bulldogs iced the Bears with a convincing 77–63 win that also snapped the Eli’s three-game losing streak.
The Bulldogs (8–6, 1–0 Ivy) earned their first win since the end of exams against Brown (12–2, 0–1), posting an impressive 77–63 victory over the team with the best overall record in the Ivy League. The win marked a turnaround from the team’s struggles before the New Year — a 72–68 loss against Indiana the day after exams ended, and then a pair of defeats, 71–61 versus the University of California-Davis and 78–70 against Hartford, at the Fordham Holiday Classic.
“We were able to control the tempo of the game by taking away Brown’s ability to score in transition,” head coach Allison Guth said. “We forced them to score in the half-court versus our zone. Secondly, we valued the possession. We turned it over 10 times, while forcing Brown to turn it over 18 times.”
The Bears entered Friday’s game boasting the league’s best offense, averaging 82 points per game before the matchup and riding high on the momentum of their 10-game winning streak. However, the Bulldogs efficiently cooled down the Brown offense, delivering a superb defensive effort that held the Bears to a season-low offensive output with just 63 points. Yale showed zero signs of rust after a two-week break from action, and it was clear that the time away from competition helped the team refocus after the three-game skid.
The game was a back-and-forth affair throughout the first three quarters, but the Bulldogs were able to pull away with their play in the decisive fourth frame, outscoring the opposition 25–15. Neither team held a double-digit lead until that final quarter.
One of the biggest factors for Yale’s offensive success was its ability to take care of the basketball. The Bulldogs’ 10 turnovers marked a season-low as the team visibly took Guth’s continuous emphasis on valuing the possession to heart. In contrast, the Bears had 18 miscues throughout the contest, with many caused by an aggressive Yale defense led by eight steals from Simpson. The Bulldogs capitalized off this advantage, netting 17 points off turnovers compared to just six for Brown.
“Our major focus was transition defense,” captain and guard Mary Ann Santucci ’18 said. “We know that Brown likes to push the ball and put up shots early in the shot clock, so we really got back on defense, and then slowed them up in our 2–3 zone.”
Yale’s second-leading scorer on the season, forward Jen Berkowitz ’18, poured in a game-high 20 points while also coming one rebound short of a double-double. Facing strong defensive pressure throughout the game from the Bears in the form of double teams, Berkowitz showed off her offensive talents by shooting an efficient seven-of-11 from the field.
Guard Roxy Barahman ’20 also had a strong performance on the boards, grabbing seven of her own, while also dropping a game-high six assists. Barahman scored 17 points, which contributed to a solid all-around performance.
“As a team, we were really able to control the tempo and stop their transition offense which was really a key factor,” Barahman said. “Also I felt as though we were able to outshoot them, which is something we will need to withstand for the rest of our home games.”
Friday’s win was a full team effort for the Bulldogs. Four of the five starters for Yale scored in double figures. The team also received a much-needed spark from the bench, as Yale’s reserves scored seven points to Brown’s zero. Six of those seven came from Santucci, who earned an energizing and-one with about 5 minutes left to go in the second quarter.
The Elis will continue Ivy League play when they travel to Providence to take on Brown on Friday for the second time in a row.
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