Courtesy of Sam Rubin

With a dramatic comeback victory against Youngstown State on Friday after falling behind by 17 points, the Yale women’s basketball team (3–3, 0–0 Ivy) narrowly avoided falling to 2–4 for the season by pulling out a 58–56 win over the Penguins (4–2, 0–0 Horizon League) in their fifth straight game on the road. The Bulldogs scored the game-winning points on a field goal by forward Megan Gorman ’20 with 42 seconds remaining against the Penguins.

Nearing the end of a demanding seven-game stretch away from New Haven, the Bulldogs have been tested by long scoring droughts and injuries. Stephen F. Austin (4–1, 0–0 Southland) handed Yale a 67–57 loss to close out the Elis’ first appearance in the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament. Four days later, the Bulldogs suffered a 66–52 defeat against Cincinnati (5–2, 0–0 AAC) to start Thanksgiving week in Ohio.

But perhaps no loss was as devastating as losing forward Ellen Margaret Andrews ’21, a staff reporter for the News, in the second quarter of the defeat to the Bearcats to an ACL and meniscus tear. Andrews played heavy minutes for the Bulldogs in the first five games of the season as a starter, scoring a season-high 11 points in Yale’s 67–64 win over Niagara (1–5, 0–0 MAAC) on Nov. 17 in the first game of the Preseason WNIT Consolation Round. The season-ending injury came as she was fouled driving to the basket.

“Being ready when your name is called is something our underclassmen are definitely learning, especially now since we’ve had some injuries,” point guard Roxy Barahman ’20 said. “We have been working on our offense a lot, so I hope we can gain a little more confidence on the offensive end. We definitely need others to step up and score if we are going to be successful moving forward.”

With a “next woman up” mentality, the Bulldogs will count on more production from their bench moving forward, which was outscored 29–0 in the loss to Cincinnati. Chipping in 15 points, the second unit’s contributions proved critical for the Elis’ in the close victory over Youngstown. Yale also enjoyed a brief lead over the Ladyjacks during a 20–11 second-quarter stretch in which six different Bulldogs scored against SFA to showcase the team’s depth.

Despite periods of successful team offense, the Bulldogs allowed themselves to get caught in off-ball screens and foul trouble due to miscommunications on the defensive end. The Elis were badly hurt by being outscored 21–4 third quarter against Stephen F. Austin, coughing the ball up 17 times on the night. Their opponents capitalized on these errors with 24 points off turnovers.

Although a first-round loss to Northern Illinois sent the Bulldogs to the consolation round early in the tournament, this was Yale’s first invitation to the Preseason WNIT, putting them in competition with a tough field. Three teams — Marquette, Miami and Nicholls State — appeared in the NCAA tournament last season. The preseason tournament’s eventual winner was the Iowa State program, which is currently ranked first in the Big 12.

“I think it was a great experience for us to play some top-level competition and see what it takes to beat a NCAA-caliber team,” Barahman said. “It definitely showed what we needed to work on, and I think we can take a lot out of that tournament and use it to improve going forward.”

The William R. Johnson Coliseum, home to the Ladyjacks, has always been hostile to visitors coming to Nacogdoches, Texas. SFA is 67–11 at home dating back to the 2013–14 season.

But the pressure the Elis faced in the final game of the Preseason WNIT will be valuable experience going forward.

The Bulldogs travel to Wagner and Providence this Tuesday and Thursday to wrap up their road slate with nine more games in preseason play before commencing Ivy League play and postseason ambitions. Yale plays just one game at John J. Amphitheater between Nov. 27 and Dec. 19.

Julianna Lai | julianna.lai@yale.edu