After the Yale women’s basketball team took a beating in Providence on Friday, Jan. 18, head coach Allison Guth had a strong message for her players: Don’t do it again — “it” being coughing the ball up 20 times to give the Bears 29 points off turnovers, allowing Bears guard Shayna Mehta to torch the Bulldogs with a career-high 37 points and sending her to the line 15 times.
Hungry for revenge and the chance to defend their home court, the Bulldogs (11–6, 1–1 Ivy) executed a near-perfect 40 minutes according to plan, turning out a 84-72 win over Brown (9–9, 1–1) to split the season series and improve to 4–0 at home. After a frenzied opening quarter featuring missed layups from both teams and passes sailing out of bounds, Yale took control, finally settling into its signature pack-line defense and beating the Bears 54–35 on the boards.
“We really locked in and made sure on the offensive end we finished so that they couldn’t get transition buckets,” forward Alex Cade ’21 said. “We were communicating more on defense and knew what to do when they were screening and running backdoor cuts.”
After allowing Mehta to go 10–19, including 3–6 from long range, in the last matchup, the Elis silenced the league’s third-best scorer, limiting her to just 13 points on 4–20 shooting. Guards Justine Gaziano and Taylor Will led the way for the Bears, scoring 24 and 23 points respectively. But Brown found few offensive contributions elsewhere, shooting 35.7 percent as a team throughout the game.
On offense, the Bulldogs established a dominating presence in the paint early, out-hustling the Bears to grab 19 offensive boards and creating second-chance opportunities for their teammates. Forward Camilla Emsbo ’22 notched the sixth double-double of her young career, recording 10 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. And Cade contributed 14 points and nine rebounds of her own.
“We stuck to the game plan more by getting our post touches earlier in the game which brought the defense in, which allowed us to then kick it and get our three-point shooters started,” Cade said. “We also realized that they weren’t good at defending cutters, so we ran a play where we pass to the wing and cut that gave us inside ball movement as well.”
But the biggest difference for the Elis was point guard Roxy Barahman ’20. She poured in a career-high 31 points to go along with six rebounds and six assists a week after going 3–13 for a career-low eight points.
“I just wanted some redemption from last week,” Barahman said. “Credit to my teammates who helped me out getting the 31. It felt good.”
Barahman — who leads the league averaging 20.1 points per game — relentlessly picked apart the Brown defense, with 25 of her points coming from driving layups and mid-range jumpers off the dribble. With four players in the double digits, the Elis’ sixth-best offense found a much-needed spark, shooting 48.5 percent in the contest, including a 72.7 percent fourth quarter. Guard Tori Andrew ’21 heated up in the third quarter, scoring 10 points. The Bulldogs also got nine points and five rebounds from forward Alexandra Maund ’19 off the bench.
After being burned by the Bears’ blistering transition offense in Providence, the Bulldogs faced a few scares in the second half. Mehta led the defensive charge for Brown after the Bears were forced to amp up the pressure with a full court press to start the second half down 41–32. But this time, the Bulldogs stopped the bleeding as soon as Gaziano and Will started nailing threes in transition. Even when Brown cut the lead to just three with 5:22 left in the final period — Yale led by as many as 14 in the contest — the Bulldogs responded calmly.
“We knew they were pressing a little bit more so just maintaining that aggressiveness, not panicking and not turning over the ball was key,” Barahman said.
The Bulldogs host conference-leader Harvard and the league’s most efficient offense next Friday at John J. Lee Amphitheater. The Crimson took over sole possession of first place after trouncing Dartmouth 73–57 on the road.
Julianna Lai | firstname.lastname@example.org