After a sweep against Harvard and Dartmouth, the schedule of the Yale women’s basketball team only gets tougher from here on out. This weekend, the Bulldogs hit the road against Penn and Princeton — two conference powerhouse programs that have combined to win the last nine Ivy championships.
Yale (13–6, 3–1 Ivy) is currently 4–6 playing away from home this season and has especially struggled shooting the ball from long range. In the league opener against Brown — which the Elis dropped by 15 points — the Bulldogs shot 7–24 from the three-point line. Over the last three contests at home, they haven’t fared much better, shooting 5–23 against Harvard and 6–22 against Dartmouth from long range. When the shots have not been falling, the Bulldogs have turned to inside scoring, winning the battle in the paint 28–8 against the Big Green and edging the Crimson 42–38. Against two physical squads led by their standout post players — the Tigers (10–8, 2–1) and Quakers (13–3, 3–0) — the Bulldogs will have to be even more detailed with their guard-to-post play.
“Princeton’s hard to guard and hard to score against, especially on the road,” head coach Allison Guth said. “That place is a tough place to play, so we’ll work on our playbook and our confidence in what we’re running and how we’re going to share the ball against both of those opponents. ”
The Tigers, the defending Ancient Eight champions, are led by 6-foot-4-inch forward Bella Alarie who is coming off of an Ivy League single-game record 45 points in Princeton’s win over Columbia last Friday. In just three quarters of action, Alarie scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the Tigers’ 75–46 trouncing of Cornell the following night.
The junior collected league Player of the Week and NCAA Starting Five honors after a dominant weekend that saw her average 33 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and three blocks while shooting 63 percent from the field. An all-around threat, Alarie can also knock down the three-ball.
“Limiting [Alarie’s] touches will be the most important thing and we have to have good ball pressure on their guards so they really can’t get it inside too much,” point guard Roxy Barahman ’20 said. “Both games are going to be a dogfight. It’s going to be just as tough if not harder than how Harvard played us.”
Heading into the third week of Ivy play, Penn remains the lone undefeated team in the conference, riding a four-game winning streak to take the top spot in the standings. Boasting the league’s best defense, the Quakers limit their opponents to an average of 51.4 points per game on 33 percent shooting, primarily using a stifling 2–3 zone defense.
The Bulldogs have struggled offensively all season, shooting a league-low 39.8 percent from the field, and will have to prioritize getting points inside to minimize scoring droughts, especially against the zone. Eleah Parker, the Quakers’ 6-foot-4-inch force in center, will not make things easy for Yale under the basket. The sophomore and reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year is averaging 15.3 points and over nine boards thus far and registered 26 points and 12 rebounds against the Big Red a week ago.
“Eleah Parker is probably the most physical and talented big we’ll face,” Guth said. “Penn’s especially good in their 2–3 zone and packing it in the paint and we’re going to have to get really detailed about playing them.”
While Parker has been a big reason for Penn’s early success, it has been the Quakers’ balanced offense that has made them the second-most efficient scoring team in the conference behind the Crimson. Against Columbia, four Quakers scored in the double digits.
The matchup against Princeton will be the first meeting between the Emsbo twins. Forward Camilla Emsbo ’22, the sister of Tigers’ forward Kira Emsbo, collected her fifth Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors last week, which is more than any other rookie this season. Camilla Emsbo is just behind Parker, ranking second in the conference in rebounds and blocked shots. Her 53.5 field goal percentage is also a league best.
“We’ve both been looking forward to [playing each other] for so long now,” Emsbo said of the matchup against the Tigers. “There are a lot of memories — it’s going to be a lot of fun. Kira’s playing behind one of the best players in the league [in Bella]. But we just have to focus on doing our jobs. I think if we can shoot at a better clip than we have been and take care of the ball, we match up really well against Princeton.”
Both contests will tip off at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Jadwin Gymnasium and the Palestra, respectively.
Julianna Lai | firstname.lastname@example.org