A night after pulling off a 69–61 win over Columbia, the Yale women’s basketball team came out on the losing end of a defensive struggle on Saturday with Cornell — a team that had lost its last five Ivy games coming into the weekend.
The upset-minded Cornell squad (9–10, 3–5 Ivy) eked out a 43–41 come-from-behind victory over the Elis in a contest charged with emotion and its fair share of air-balls and fouls. With the loss and win over the Lions (7–14, 3–5), the Bulldogs (15–8, 5–3) fell to third place to close the first round of Ivy play, while the Big Red moved up two spots in the conference rankings after pulling out two wins against Brown and Yale this weekend.
Neither team could find its rhythm in what was anticipated to be a low-scoring matchup between the league’s second- and third-best defenses. With a lid on both baskets, Yale and Cornell shot a combined 28 percent from the field and 27 percent from 3-point range. Not a single field goal fell in the final three minutes and fifteen of the game, which came down to foul shooting and a few hotly contested calls. Yale’s 15 fouls in the second half sent Cornell to the line 18 times, and the Big Red collected 11 points.
“[The Cornell game] was a big lesson for us in humility,” head coach Allison Guth said. “I don’t like the way we lost this one. We struggled scoring in the first half, but I thought our offense was great and we were getting the shots we wanted. We just couldn’t put it in. I thought our defense was tremendous at times. Our third quarter troubles were that we negated our pack pressure by fouling and then they set up that press and we had some trouble breaking it.”
Cornell’s two-three zone posed a challenge for Yale’s bigs, who were triple-teamed for most of the night and struggled to score as a result. With layups rattling in-and-out, Yale’s post-players combined to shoot 7–24 from the field. After a 10–0 run by the Elis midway through the third quarter put the home team up 31–21, the Big Red switched to a full-court press that led to a 7–0 run and several sloppy Yale possessions.
Down by one heading into the final quarter, Cornell took its first lead of the night when guard Danielle Jorgenson opened the fourth with a solo 5–0 run. With the Big Red press causing all sorts of chaos, point guard Roxy Barahman ’20 took matters into her own hands. With the game tied at 39 and just over two minutes to play, she went coast-to-coast and drew a foul to earn a chance to put Yale ahead. But as she celebrated the call in the mid of an emotional period, Barahman was called for a technical. Cornell forward Laura Bagwell-Katalinich easily knocked down both of the ensuing foul shots for two of her game-high 17 points. Seven of those came at the charity stripe.
“It was definitely an interesting time to call [the tech],” Guth said. “But anytime you slam the ball on the ground, you’re giving the ref an opportunity to call it. We love that Roxy plays with moxie and the confidence that she does. We’re not going to make that mistake again, but that’s not what the game came down to. The game came down to us turning the ball over and that we couldn’t hit the broadside of the barn tonight.”
The Big Red did not relinquish the lead again. With the Bulldogs down three and less than three seconds left on the game clock, guard Tori Andrew ’21 drew a foul on a 3-point attempt. After Andrew hit one of the first two free throws, Guth drew up a play for the Bulldogs to come up with a shot attempt off of an intentional miss.
In the midst of a frantic fumble for the loose ball, the buzzer sounded before the refs could call a jump ball, sending the Bulldogs to the locker room devastated.
“At the end of the day, we needed to control what we could, which were the turnovers and being physical and keeping up the level of intensity even when the refs weren’t calling our way,” Barahman said. “They were fouling all night and then I bounced the ball a little too hard.”
The loss broke an 11-game home winning streak at JLA dating to February of last season — a streak that the team had kept alive the previous night with a home win over Columbia. On Friday, the Bulldogs overcame an early 10–0 deficit start and held the Lions to just 37 percent from the field in the contest and 34 percent shooting in the second half. Stellar ball movement resulted in 18 team assists and balanced scoring from both Bulldog guards and posts. Barahman led the way with 25 points, 10 boards, five assists and five steals, going 7–7 from the free throw line and 4–8 from long range on Friday. Despite being double and triple-teamed by Columbia all game, forward Camilla Emsbo ’22 chipped in 17 points and eight rebounds. When the post players were stifled by the Light Blue’s defense, they found Andrew on the perimeter, where she knocked down three of her five 3-point attempts.
“We’ve been talking about the posts being pass-dependent, and I thought we did a great job of taking advantage of that,” Emsbo said after the win. “We knew their game plan would be to double-up inside and I think we did a great job of kicking it out.”
Elsewhere in the Ancient Eight, the Crimson handed Penn its first conference loss in a double-overtime win. Beginning next weekend, the Elis face a daunting stretch on the road in which they will travel to play Harvard, Dartmouth, Cornell and Columbia.
Despite being handed their third loss of the regular season, Guth maintains the utmost confidence in her players and their ability to earn a spot in the Ivy League tournament come March.
“This one’s going to be hard to sit with — the worst part is sitting with it for a week,” Guth said. “We shot ourselves in the foot with this one a little bit, with all due respect to Cornell … I believe we’re a team that can be cutting down nets in March. But we are very humbled by this and we know that we have to pay rent every day to earn our way to JLA.”
The top four teams in the conference will play in the Ivy League tournament hosted in New Haven from March 16–17.
Julianna Lai | firstname.lastname@example.org