After earning a momentous victory against Princeton — a team Yale women’s basketball had lost to in the previous 17 matchups — the team looked poised to give Penn a battle the following night. However, inconsistency continues to plague the Elis, as they were outhustled on the glass in a frustrating loss to the Quakers.
The Bulldogs (10–9, 3–3 Ivy) clashed with the Tigers (14–4, 4–1) and the Quakers (13–5, 4–1), two of the top defensive teams in the Ivy League, this weekend. Against Princeton, the Elis could do no wrong, catching fire for their best three-point shooting output of the season. Behind 11–23 shooting from downtown, the Bulldogs won 73–59 for their first victory against Princeton in 18 tries. The previous win against the Tigers came nearly a decade ago at home, on Feb. 13, 2009. But in a quick turnaround, the Bulldogs were no match for the Quakers, who came in and dominated Yale 69–54 in John J. Lee Amphitheater.
“The reason that we had such a successful night versus Princeton is because we were locked in from a programmatic coverage defensive mindset,” head coach Allison Guth said. “We did not do a good job [against Penn on Saturday]. When we went to double in on their bigs, zoning up the backside and covering that, they did a great job exposing us in that a couple times.”
Friday’s game started off slowly for the home team, as the Tigers took advantage of two early turnovers to jump out to a 9–0 advantage. Forward Jen Berkowitz ’18 finally broke the scoring drought with a triple, igniting a 19–5 Yale run that would change the tone of the game for good. The three from Berkowitz would start a three-point barrage from the Bulldogs, with guard Tori Andrew ’21 hitting two triples before guard Mary Ann Santucci ’18 followed suit with her own bucket from long range.
In the second quarter, the Bulldogs continued to have the hot hand. Andrew netted another three before guard Roxy Barahman ’20 splashed one home that gave Yale a 32–16 lead, forcing Princeton to call a timeout. Forward Leslie Robinson tried to counter the Bulldogs’ shooting display with inside dominance, scoring 10 of the Tigers’ 12 points in the quarter. However, the Princeton defense simply could not contain the Bulldogs from deep. Andrew delivered her fourth and final three of the game before Santucci fittingly capped off the offensive onslaught with a buzzer-beating three to end the half. The Elis shot 8-of-12 from downtown and led 40–28 heading into the locker room.
“We’ve been making it a goal as a team to get a lot of shots up outside of practice, and I think we are really invested in each other and believe in each other,” Andrew said. “So when you shoot it thinking it’s going in, it usually does.”
However, the Bulldogs did not merely outshoot their foes to build their 12-point halftime lead. After starting the game off sluggishly and falling behind 9–0, the team notably defended with a renewed intensity, reminiscent of the lockdown effort against Dartmouth.
The Elis were able to hold Princeton’s leading scorer, six-foot-four guard Bella Alarie, to a measly eight points, which is roughly seven points below her average. But Yale found it difficult to match up against Robinson, allowing her to explode for 18 points — roughly seven points above her average — and nine rebounds.
“I think that really fired us up,” Barahman said. “After the way Harvard crushed us, we knew that we could do that to other teams. It really fired us up to play good team defense, and we’ve done that two games in a row now. We’ve just got to keep it up.”
Playing inspired defense and riding the momentum of their scorching first half, the Elis controlled the second half and never allowed their lead to dip below nine points. The Bulldogs used the complete team effort to snap Princeton’s seven-game winning streak and handed the Tigers their first conference loss of the season.
Yale began Saturday’s matchup against the Quakers with the same intensity, as the Elis jumped to an early 7–2 lead. To start, great ball movement led to two easy layups and a wide open three. However, Penn began to find its rhythm, creating open looks on the perimeter after crashing the offensive boards. After a made jumpshot by center Eleah Parker roughly halfway through the quarter, the Quakers refused to relinquish their lead for the remainder of the game.
The rest of the game continued the first quarter’s trends. The Bulldogs struggled to maintain possession and could not muster up an answer to Penn’s powerful offensive-rebounding prowess. When Yale was able to run offensive sets, it did manage to create open looks. However, as if there was a lid on the basket, many shots agonizingly rimmed out or missed the basket entirely.
The Quakers seemingly had an answer for every Eli run, exposing the weak sides of Yale’s 2–3 zone with great ball movement, three-point marksmanship and a dominating presence inside. The fourth quarter saw the game slip away, as the Quakers extended their lead to 22 points after a made layup by guard Lauren Whitlatch.
“I don’t think there’s a ton going back to the drawing board other than just getting it done in practice, holding our kids accountable and getting it done because I believe we’re a better team than what we showed tonight,” Guth said after the game.
Yale will travel to New York to take on Columbia and Cornell next weekend.
Jimmy Chen | firstname.lastname@example.org
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