With just four games remaining in the Yale women’s basketball team’s regular season slate, the Bulldogs’ Ivy League Tournament campaign is in desperate need of a jolt. The road-weary Elis will travel to play two must-win games against Cornell and Columbia on Friday and Saturday respectively.
After last weekend’s losses at Dartmouth (12–11, 5–5 Ivy) and Harvard (14–9, 7–3), the Bulldogs (15–10, 5–5) slipped to fourth in the conference standings. Just the top four teams play for the championship in March, and Yale needs to get back to the fundamentals and find its offensive mojo if it wants to punch a ticket to Ivy Madness. The Elis have shot a combined 35.5 percent from the field over the last three consecutive losses while seeing their defense slide to fourth in the league after allowing 83 points against Harvard.
“We have to focus on breaking both [Cornell and Columbia]’s full-court pressure and move the ball against their zone defenses to get great shots,” point guard Roxy Barahman ’20 said. “Fixing our turnovers and defensive deficiencies are also [key] this weekend.”
Barahman still leads the league in scoring, but in Yale’s last matchup with Cornell — which boasts the second-best defense in the conference — Barahman was limited to just 14 points on 4–14 shooting. In the following game against Dartmouth, she went 2–10 for just eight points. Barahman delivered 21 points in the loss to Harvard but had to put up 21 shots to do so.
Contributing to Yale’s offensive struggles, the Bulldogs’ bigs have been relatively ineffective on offense in the Elis’ last three losses, unable to continue their strong play from the first half of the regular season. Together, the post players contributed just 16 points against the Big Red, 17 the following week against the Big Green and 17 in the loss to the Crimson the next day. Though the Elis are more than capable of getting the ball inside, they have had trouble finishing at the rim.
“Our guards are sharing the ball really beautifully,” head coach Allison Guth said. “But we got 24 touches against Cornell and only finished nine of them. We have the abilities inside and out — it’s just about getting our confidence back.”
But it hasn’t been all bad news for the Bulldogs lately.
Looking for any spark she could find to revitalize her team, Guth opted to put in guard Robin Gallagher ’22 against Dartmouth last Friday. The rookie responded with 17 points and went 5–5 from beyond the arc. After proving that she is healthy and ready to go after being sidelined since Thanksgiving due to an injury, Gallagher will likely see more playing time this weekend.
Tori Andrew ’21 also delivered some fantastic guard play last weekend. At Yale’s match against Harvard, Andrew drained five three-pointers on her way to a career-high 23 points. The Bulldogs are the second-worst three-point shooting team in the conference but have managed to improve their accuracy from long-range as the season has progressed.
“We really just want to focus every day on getting better,” Barahman said. “Obviously, we’re learning from the losses, but we have to put them behind us and play with a chip on our shoulders now.”
Since beating Yale at the buzzer at John J. Lee Amphitheater two weeks ago, Cornell has dropped its last two against Princeton and Penn. Columbia is also coming off of two losses to the Tigers and the Quakers after pulling off a narrow win over last-place Brown.
Tip-off is at 6:00 p.m. at Newman Arena in Ithaca on Friday and at 5:00 p.m. at Levien Gymnasium in the Big Apple on Saturday.
Julianna Lai | email@example.com