Perfect 2–0 weekends are hard to come by in the Ivy League, especially on the road. But the Yale women’s basketball team did just that on Friday and Saturday, securing two crucial victories to climb up the Ancient Eight standings into a tie for third place.
The Bulldogs (12–9, 5–3 Ivy) took a weekend road trip to New York, as they battled Columbia (7–16, 1–7) and Cornell (6–15, 2–6). Yale’s sweep was its first on a conference road trip since Feb. 2013, as well as its first win in Ithaca in five years. Defense keyed the Elis to victory in both games, as they held Columbia and Cornell to 50 points and 55 points, respectively. The team locked in and resolved the defensive inconsistencies of the previous weekends, vastly improving upon their season average of ceding 65.8 points per game to opponents.
“I think of last weekend’s win against Princeton taught us a lot that helped fuel the sweep this weekend,” forward Jen Berkowitz ’18 said. “We learned from that game that it doesn’t need to be a perfect game to get the dub. We just have to stick together and outwork the other team for forty minutes. I think we did that this weekend. We controlled the tempo and were able to beat two quality teams.”
Against Columbia, the Elis looked out of sync to start the game, starting 1–13 from the field in the first three minutes of play. However, led by Berkowitz and guard Roxy Barahman ’20, Yale managed to pull itself together, cutting down the Lions’ lead to just two points at the end of the first quarter.
The Bulldogs carried their momentum from the second half of the first quarter into the second period, as the team managed to lock Columbia down and earn a 17–2 run. Yale led by seven going into the halftime break.
In the third quarter, the Bulldogs maintained their defensive intensity, holding Columbia to a mere 13 points. The Elis also forced the Lions into a scoring drought that lasted nearly four minutes while their own offense picked up. The Bulldogs matched their second quarter output with 21 points to put them on top, 54–39, heading into the final quarter. Columbia was unable to cut the Yale lead below 13 points in the final quarter, and the Bulldogs came away with a dominating 73–50 win.
As a testament to the squad’s focus on defensive intensity, Yale managed to hold guard Camille Zimmerman, the Ivy League’s leading scorer, to a mere 10 points and 12 rebounds after she came into Friday night’s game averaging 20.7 points per contest.
The Bulldogs carried the confidence and momentum gained from the win against Columbia into Saturday’s contest, beginning the game 7–0 after preventing the Big Red from scoring for the first two minutes of play. But Cornell clawed its way back in the first quarter. Finding themselves down by a point, the Elis fought back and ended the quarter with a 15–11 lead after a small spark from a 3-pointer by captain and guard Mary Ann Santucci ’18.
Yale had an answer for most of Cornell’s baskets until the end of the second quarter. The Big Red cut the Eli lead down to just two points, but Yale responded with huge 3-pointers by Barahman and guard Tamara Simpson ’18 to give it a 31–25 lead going into the half. After a strong third quarter, the Bulldogs managed to hold a 13-point lead going into the final 10 minutes of play. The Big Red, however, came alive and cut the lead to eight, but the Elis would not permit a Cornell comeback, stomping out any hopes of a continued fourth-quarter spark with a 6–1 run to close out the game and seal the victory.
Berkowitz, a powerful presence in the paint for the Bulldogs, led the team in scoring in both games. Against Columbia, she scored 21 points on 10-of-16 shooting while blocking two shots in her spare time. The following night, Berkowitz narrowly missed a double-double against the Big Red with 18 points and eight rebounds while shooting a sizzling 80 percent from the field. Simpson, Barahman and forward Ellen Margaret Andrews ’21, a staff reporter for the News, joined Berkowitz in double figures in scoring, encapsulating a well-balanced effort for the Bulldogs on the offensive end.
“It was huge for us now going into the second half of Ivy play,” Barahman said. “We really needed those two wins. Also, it was the first time the seniors had swept an Ivy away weekend, which is really big for them. We are very pumped to see where the rest of the season takes us.”
The Bulldogs will continue conference play as they go toe-to-toe with Dartmouth and Harvard at home next weekend.
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