Courtesy of Sam Rubin
Ailed by turnover woes and foul trouble, the Yale women’s basketball team dropped its first conference game against Brown 86–71 on Friday night at the Pizzitola Sports Center. The Elis (10–6, 0–1 Ivy) fell prey to a stifling Bear defense and dominant backcourt, as Brown (9–8, 1-0) snapped the Bulldogs’ longest winning streak since 2016.
From the opening whistle, forward Camilla Emsbo ’22 led the Elis. The 6-foot-5-inch five-star recruit played an efficient 36 minutes, going 11–15 from the field and scoring 26 points in her Ivy League debut. Emsbo compiled her fifth double-double of the season, adding 10 rebounds and three blocked shots. But Emsbo’s offensive spark was not enough to get the rest of the team going. The Bulldogs’ only lead of the game came in the opening minutes when Emsbo’s first basket put them up 2–0.
“A lot of our offensive challenges came from constantly playing catch-up and getting caught in transition on defense,” Emsbo said. “We had a lot of empty possessions and shots that weren’t our best looks or at the right time on the shot clock. But [our struggles] were definitely a testament to Brown. Their defense came out stronger than we were anticipating.”
Brown would go on to hit six of their first eight shots and end the first half with a 23–15 advantage. Picking apart the Yale offense on one end of the court and capitalizing on 20 takeaways on the other, the Bears had the Bulldogs back on their heels all game long, scoring 29 points off Eli turnovers.
“Our turnovers really set up their leading scorers and contributed to their style of play and what they like to do,” head coach Allison Guth said. “They led to their quick transition opportunities, and that meant that we weren’t settled from a defensive standpoint and weren’t in position to defend in the pack.”
The Brown backcourt — led by guards Shayna Mehta, who poured in 37 points, including 30 in first 30 minutes, and Justine Gaziano, who recorded 19 points and six rebounds — combined to go 18–36 for 56 points. Four players finished in double digits for the home squad as Brown shot 51.7 percent and 44.4 percent from long range to delight the 1,141-strong home crowd. Showcasing her versatility on both ends of the floor, Mehta also led the charge for Brown defensively, logging eight steals in the game.
Despite trying multiple defensive options on Mehta, the Elis were unable to find an answer. The senior guard was sent to the line 15 times, where she made all but one free throw. The Bears enjoyed a significant advantage at the charity stripe, shooting over 76 percent for 16 points. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, struggled at the line, knocking down just eight of 16 free chances.
As the Brown guards took over, Yale’s own backcourt was silenced. Standout point guard and Ivy League leader in points per game, Roxy Barahman ’20, finished with just eight points on 3–13 shooting. Sharpshooting guard Tori Andrew ’21 scored just six points, while both found themselves in trouble with four and five fouls, respectively.
On a day when the starters struggled to find their rhythm, the Yale bench contributed 18 points, but it was not enough to overcome the first-half deficit. The two teams were evenly matched in the second half, finishing dead even in rebounding, field goal percentage and point totals. In a bright spot for Yale, the Bulldogs won the inside battle in the paint, a key area to emphasize in Saturday’s rematch.
“The biggest thing we have to do is value the possession and take care of the basketball,” Guth said. “We need to be sharper fundamentally and work the ball inside and out, getting it early to Camilla and scoring quickly. Our offensive execution will be better when we make passes to score.”
Yale faces Brown again on Saturday in the John J. Lee Amphitheater for their Ivy League home opener.
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