After ending Brown’s 10-game winning streak in its Ivy League opener, the Yale women’s basketball team now looks to sweep the season series against the Bears on Friday and earn its second win of the conference campaign.
The Bulldogs (8–6, 1–0 Ivy) hosted their conference opener against Brown (12–2, 0–1) in John J. Lee Amphitheater on Friday. The contest was close, as neither team was able to break free until the Elis seized control in the fourth. Behind a strong defensive effort that forced contested shots on the perimeter for the Bears, Yale held the top offense in the conference to a season-low 63 points — well below its season average of 82 points — edging Brown 77–63.
The Bulldogs were able to control the pace of the game and limit their turnovers, committing a season-low 10 miscues. On the few occasions when Yale did turn the ball over, the Bulldogs stayed committed on defense and for the most part prevented the Bears from converting in transition. The Elis held a commanding 17–6 advantage on points off turnovers.
“I think Coach Behn and her staff did a very good job preparing for us the first time around,” head coach Allison Guth said. “They tried to keep our offense on one side of the floor, made some defensive adjustments with the Box and One in the third quarter, and sprinkled in their 3–2 zone throughout the game. The game was tied with a little over five minutes in the fourth quarter, and [with] a couple momentum shifts the results could have been different. I don’t think they [will] adjust a ton other than working on scoring versus our 2–3.”
On Friday, the Elis will need to continue to dictate tempo and prevent Brown from getting out on the fast break. To do this, valuing the possession will be key to minimizing transition opportunities for the Bears.
While the Bulldogs held Brown to a dismal 17 percent shooting from downtown, the team feels it can still make important adjustments on defense. In particular, the Elis have highlighted improving rebounding out of their defensive sets as an imperative in the rematch, as the Bulldogs were just able to eclipse Brown on the boards 40–39.
“We will need to work on rebounding out of our 2–3 defense,” guard Roxy Barahman ’20 said. “They were able to get a lot of offensive boards which we can limit.”
Despite failing to significantly outrebound the Bears as a team, a few Elis posted impressive solo performances on the boards. Forward Jen Berkowitz ’18 came one rebound shy of a double-double and forward Megan Gorman ’20 grabbed a season-high 11 boards.
Another hallmark of the Bulldogs’ remarkable performance, which they will seek to carry over into Friday’s game, was their ability to defend without fouling. The team committed just nine fouls as opposed to Brown’s 18, an impressive display of clean defense. Yale averaged 19 personal fouls per game coming into the contest.
The Elis decisively won the free throw battle, making 15 of 22 foul shots compared to a perfect eight of eight from the Bears. If Yale looks to stifle Brown’s perimeter offense once again, it needs to do so while preventing outside shooters from getting to the foul line.
“We played pretty well, but it’s going to be a tough environment,” guard Mary Ann Santucci ’18 said. “We really need to lock down on transition defense again, and we need to be ready to throw the first punch in each quarter.”
Last week, Yale was able to limit guard Shayna Mehta, Brown’s leading scorer, to just 12 points on shooting 5–17 from the field. The San Francisco native is currently averaging 19.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists through 13 games played.
On offense, Guth noted that the team can work on swinging the ball in the half-court set, as well as staying ready for different looks the Bears will give on defense. Despite controlling the tempo of the game and capitalizing on steals, the Bulldogs tallied just 10 assists to the Bears’ 12. Improving ball and player movement could be an X-factor for the Elis that determines the flow of the game on Friday.
“We need to be prepared to get the ball to both sides of the floor in our man offense,” Guth said. “I also think that we need to be prepared to score against a variety of defensive sets in zone and junk defenses.”
The rematch with the Bears will tip off at 5:30 pm on Friday from Providence.
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