Courtesy of Steve Musco
In a drama-filled weekend with back-to-back nights of action, the Yale women’s basketball team came away with two big wins against Harvard and Dartmouth. Defending home court, the Elis have not lost in John J. Lee Amphitheater in almost a year and are now tied with the Crimson for second in the conference.
The ESPN3 Game of the Week between Yale (13–6, 3–1 Ivy) and Harvard (10–7, 3–1) was an instant classic in the storied rivalry. The game featured a career-high 17 points from forward Alexandra Maund ’19 off the bench — on her 23rd birthday — and last-second heroics from point guard Roxy Barahman ’20 to send the Crimson out of New Haven heartbroken.
“We live for the Harvard game,” Maund said. “Every year we set goals for ourselves at the beginning of the year and beating Harvard at home and away is right up there with winning the Ivy and getting to the NCAA Tournament. We put everything we had on the floor.”
With 3:50 left to play in the contest, the Bulldogs looked their most comfortable all game — up seven with the largest lead of the night. The teeter-totter affair featured 13 lead changes and five ties. But with all five Bulldogs on the floor fighting over screens, showing perfect coordination in the pack line and forcing the Crimson to take long contested jumpers deep into the shot clock, it seemed as though the Bulldogs would stymie any Crimson attempts to come back.
Yet in a physical final quarter, both Barahman and forward Alex Cade ’21 were called for their fourth fouls. Barahman’s fourth sent Harvard guard Katie Benzan to the line to cut the Elis’ lead to three with 1:14 left in the game. After a missed three-point opportunity for the Elis, Harvard captain Madeline Raster drained a three of her own, forcing Yale head coach Allison Guth to use her last two timeouts with the scored tied at 60 apiece.
“I didn’t like how we looked coming out of the first [timeout], so I called another one,” Guth said. “We were running a play to get a solid high-low or a pass from a wing into a high-low, but we took a really ill-advised three in that series. What we needed to do was run more clock and then look for our inside touch, but we got a little bit quick-hit-aggressive.”
With the ball in Barahman’s hands with 35 seconds on the clock, the point guard — who had gone cold in the second and third periods after a nine-point first quarter — had nowhere to go. Three Crimson players obscured her vision from all sides, trapping her in the far right corner. In a split second of desperation, Barahman threw up a no-look turnaround jumper, banking it in to put her team up 62–60.
Coming out of the Crimson’s final timeout, Raster once again kept Harvard’s hopes alive as she elevated over Yale forward Megan Gorman ’20 for a fadeaway baseline jumper. With six seconds left and no timeouts, Barahman took matters into her own hands, splitting a double-team at half court to heave a Hail Mary three-pointer just as time expired. Her miraculous attempt was number two on ESPN’s Top 10 Plays on Friday.
“I didn’t deserve that,” Barahman said. “It was all my teammates the whole game. In that moment, I don’t know how it went in, but I’m grateful it did.”
The league’s top scorer, Barahman shot a dismal 5–17 on the night, but her most important contribution aside from the go-ahead and game-winning jumpers was her coverage of Benzan, who had just come off of a 22-point performance over Dartmouth the week before. Against Yale, the league’s leading three-point shooter was held to just 11 points and 1–6 from beyond the arc. Harvard as a team shot 21.7 percent from three-point range, well below their league-leading 33.6 percent.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Harvard and think they’re probably one of the highest octane offenses, so to hold a team that averages nine made threes a game and takes 25 to 5–23 is huge for us,” Guth said.
Offensively, the Bulldogs found much of their success inside, winning a physical battle in the paint, 42–38. Maund powered past the Crimson defense all night, pounding the ball inside for a particularly strong, nine-point second quarter. When the Crimson offense picked up steam to start the second half, scoring four unanswered baskets to take its largest lead of the game at 39–34, it was Maund who ended Yale’s scoring drought. She also led the way in rebounding for the Bulldogs with eight.
Strong post play from Maund and forward Camilla Emsbo ’22 combined with an uncharacteristically low 12 team turnovers was just enough to edge out the Crimson, which was previously undefeated in league play.
“The biggest thing was working on ourselves and making sure we were in our defensive positions,” Barahman said. “When we’re playing that good and as a team, we can beat anyone.”
Coming off of the thrilling win over Harvard, the Elis immediately turned their attention to the Big Green in the second of back-to-back contests. Shaking off any signs of fatigue, the Bulldogs took a permanent lead over Dartmouth just three minutes into the opening quarter and went on to win 64–49. Yale led by as many as 20 in the game and Cade turned in the best performance of the night, scoring 15 points to go along with 14 rebounds.
With a decisive edge on the glass, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 22–12 lead to start the game and a 17–4 rebounding advantage that resulted in 12 second-chance points. The Elis ultimately outrebounded the Big Green 52–34 and converted 11 Dartmouth turnovers into 18 points. Sharing the ball was especially key in the win, as Yale recorded a season-high 19 team assists one night after collecting just eight.
In their third consecutive Ivy victory, the Bulldogs’ pack-line defense held their opponents to just over 32 percent from the field, while shooting 42.6 percent themselves. Yale is tied with Princeton in a league-worst 39.8 average field goal percentage.
The Bulldogs next travel to face the Tigers, which are coming off of a 75–46 trouncing over Cornell on the road.
Julianna Lai | email@example.com