In a tale of two games, the Yale women’s basketball team avenged a dreadful defensive display against Harvard by shutting down Dartmouth’s league-leading offensive attack.
The Bulldogs (9–8, 2–2 Ivy) hit the road this weekend, traveling to Cambridge on Friday to battle against rival Crimson (11–6, 3–1), then to Hanover to take on the Big Green (10–7, 2–2). The Bulldogs looked out of sorts defensively in a 97–73 loss in Cambridge, as the Crimson shot a staggering 61.3 percent from the field. In a quick turnaround between games, the Elis took the lackluster defensive effort as motivation to lock down the stalwart Dartmouth offense in the next game, winning 57–39.
“We were disappointed with our defensive deficiencies and just wanted to get back to great pressure defense,” head coach Allison Guth said. “I’m really happy for our team and its ability to stick together and bounce back against a very good Dartmouth team.”
Defeating the Crimson on the road would have been a tall order for any team. Heading into the matchup, Harvard posted a 20–2 record in its last 22 home games. To give themselves a fighting chance as the visitors, the Bulldogs needed to play efficiently on both ends of the floor. Although offense was no problem for the Bulldogs — the team put up 73 points, over its season average of 69.9 — defense ultimately let the team down. At the same time, the Crimson uncharacteristically heated up from long range, netting 14 triples on 63.6 percent shooting. On the season, Harvard averages just 8.4 made three-pointers a game and is converting from beyond the arc this season at a rate of 33.1 percent.
At the half, the Bulldogs found themselves trailing by double digits, but the Crimson onslaught did not relent after the intermission. The Crimson hit two triples early in the third quarter to open a 16-point lead before the Elis had a chance to respond. The Bulldogs chased the Crimson on the scoreboard into the fourth quarter, but Harvard hit its first five shots in the last frame, silencing any hopes of a miraculous comeback.
Although the Bulldogs were overwhelmed by Harvard as a whole, forward Jen Berkowitz ’18 continued to put up solid numbers. The veteran posted 19 points and six rebounds on 8-of-12 shooting from the field. Guard Tori Andrew ’21 followed with 16 points, including two triples and a perfect eight-of-eight at the foul line. Despite allowing Harvard to score 97 points, well above their season average of roughly 69 per game, the Bulldogs were able to hold the Crimson’s leading scorer, guard Katie Benzan, to a modest 11 points. After weekend wins versus Yale and Brown, the Crimson improved to an 8–0 record at home.
“We have to really battle it out on the road if we want to beat these teams that have home court advantage,” guard Roxy Barahman ’20 said. “That means winning the 50/50 balls and outworking other teams.”
The Elis looked much more focused on defense against the Big Green, coming out the gates with much more focus and intensity on that side of the floor. Dartmouth was unable to score for a span of six minutes in the first quarter and ended the first 10 minutes of play with just nine points on the board. Although rallying to tie the game early in the second quarter, guard Tamara Simpson ’18 led a 14–5 run to close out the half.
Forward Ellen Margaret Andrews ’21 exploded in the third quarter, splashing home two threes and earning herself a three-point play in a span of just three minutes. Her impressive offensive showing led a Bulldog surge, as the team extended its lead to 13 points. The Elis commanded the fourth quarter, never allowing the lead to dip below 15 points after a made layup by Berkowitz to begin the period.
The Elis looked much more focused on defense against the Big Green, suffocating the Ivy League’s top shooting team and holding it to an abysmal, season-low 39 points. Guth was impressed by the defensive effort of Barahman — who is usually praised for her offensive prowess — during Saturday’s game, as she held Dartmouth’s leading scorer Cy Lippold to just seven points. Another standout performance came from forward Megan Gorman ’20, who led all players with a career-high 16 boards, with five coming off the offensive glass.
“Rebounding is always a big focus,” Gorman said. “Winning the rebounding battle is crucial to success, so all year we have emphasized working hard to dominate the glass. I think we did a great job boxing out and crashing against Dartmouth, which helped us be as effective as we were on the boards.”
The Bulldogs will take on Princeton on Friday, followed by a contest against Penn on Saturday.
Cristofer Zillo | firstname.lastname@example.org
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