Tumbling down the Ivy League standings with a rough weekend on the road, the Yale women’s basketball suffered a pair of losses to Dartmouth and Harvard. The Elis are now tied for fourth place with the Big Green.
Coming off a defeat to fifth-place Cornell the prior weekend, the Bulldogs (15–10, 5–5 Ivy) knew that they were headed into a daunting stretch, facing an upward-trending Dartmouth on Friday and a surging Crimson squad at Lavietes Pavilion the next day. The Elis were unable to return to their winning ways, falling at the buzzer in a 56–54 loss to Dartmouth (12–11, 5–5) on Friday and losing 83–69 to hot-handed Harvard (14–9, 7–3) on Saturday.
“There’s no other way to put it; we’re disappointed and frustrated,” head coach Allison Guth said. “We have to be able to control the controllables, and turnovers are a huge issue for us. There seems to be consistent issues with our footwork and our vision on passes.”
In the Elis’ first loss to the Big Green at Leede Arena since March 2009, the Bulldogs fell behind 18–8 in the opening quarter. After a dismal offensive performance in the second, in which Yale shot just 1–11 from the field for two total points, the Bulldogs found themselves playing catch-up the rest of the night. With the score tied at 54 with 30 seconds to play, the Elis gave up two crucial possessions and failed to grab the rebound on a missed three-point attempt by Dartmouth’s Isalys Quinones. Her teammate, guard Paula Lenart, grabbed the offensive board underneath the hoop and laid it in just as time expired.
The loss to Dartmouth was the Bulldogs’ third defeat in their last four losses that was decided in the final seconds. In one of the weekend’s few bright spots, first-year guard Robin Gallagher ’22 broke out for a team and career-high 17 points and went 5–5 from long-range. Gallagher, who had been hampered by injuries since Thanksgiving, orchestrated a solo 7–0 run in the first quarter, and her fifth three gave Yale a 54–52 lead with 1:27 left to play. Her previous career-high had been 10 points, which came in a non-conference win at Youngstown State.
“I think Robin could be the X-factor for us in the two weekends ahead,” Guth said. “We had a conversation going into the week about how much I believe in her and what she brings to the table. What Robin needed was some time on the floor, and she really maximized it with the way she scored. There were some mistakes down the stretch that she’s learning from, but I’m celebrating what she did at Dartmouth. She was the reason we were in the game.”
Aside from Gallagher, the Bulldogs found little offense elsewhere. The rest of the team was held to 14–39 shooting. Even more devastating to the Elis were the 20 turnovers that led to 19 points for Dartmouth. The Big Green also dominated the battle inside, outscoring the Bulldogs 36–20 in the paint. The 6-foot-3 forward Quinones scored a game-high 18 points, fueling several Dartmouth runs to maintain the Big Green’s advantage in the second half.
The next day’s game at Harvard was a completely different story. The Crimson rolled over the Bulldogs from the opening tip, going up as much as 27 points against a disjointed Yale squad. Harvard, which boasts the league’s top offense, dropped 98 points against Brown the night prior. The Crimson shot over 46 percent from the field while holding the Bulldogs to 36 percent. Harvard leads the Ancient Eight in both field goal percentage and three-point shooting, averaging over 42 percent from the field and 33.5 percent from beyond the arc.
Yale started the contest with turnovers in its first two possessions, eventually giving the ball away 17 times on the night to give Harvard 25 points. The Crimson capitalized on the Elis’ slow start, taking a commanding 10-point lead to close the first quarter. At the half, the lead was up to 25 points. Harvard shot a scorching 52.8 percent and nearly 55 percent from long-range in the first 20 minutes of play and enjoyed a 52–27 advantage going into the third quarter.
Attempting to make inroads after a miserable first half, Yale outscored Harvard 42–31 in the second half, largely due to 16 points from guard Tori Andrew ’21, who scored a team-high 23 points on 6–10 shooting and five three-pointers. Andrew also went 6–6 from the line, contributing to Yale’s stellar performance at the charity stripe, where the Elis shot 90 percent for 18 points.
“At Harvard, we actually took a step forward after Friday night,” Guth said. “We met Harvard on a night when they were shooting lights out.”
But it was too little, too late. The Bulldogs found themselves in a 66–49 hole to start the final period and went on to shoot just over 29 percent in the quarter. After point guard Roxy Barahman ’20 managed just eight points against Dartmouth on 2–10 shooting, the league’s top scorer had to battle for each of her 21 points from the field against the Crimson. But it was Harvard’s suffocating inside defense that frustrated Yale all night.
Forward Camilla Emsbo ’22 had led the Elis in the first game of their series against Harvard, with 15 points and seven rebounds. On Saturday, she was immediately crowded by players in crimson as soon as she touched the ball in the post. Emsbo shot just 1–8 for two points on the night, and in her 19 minutes on the floor, the Bulldogs were outscored by 23 points.
“The biggest thing that we’re noticing from the Cornell game until now is the lack of a scoring presence in the post,” Guth said. “Part of our success so far has been our scoring inside, and we have to get back to that. Everyone is buying into our game plan. Our guards are sharing the ball really beautifully, but we just aren’t finishing. We have to get our confidence back.”
Yale travels to Cornell and Columbia next weekend.
Julianna Lai | firstname.lastname@example.org