The Yale women’s basketball team has won seven of its last eight games, giving the Bulldogs their best start since 1976 heading into Ivy play. This weekend, the Elis will look to extend their winning streak with back-to-back games against Brown: one home and one away.
The Blue and White (10-3, 0-0 Ivy) came out on top in four of its five contests over the winter break. The series of wins included a historic win over Sacred Heart in the program’s largest margin of victory since 1981. Nevertheless, the beginning of Ivy play on Friday is sure to provide a new set of hurdles. Last season, the Bulldogs fell to Brown (6-7, 0-0 Ivy) in the opening conference matchup of the season. On Friday, the Elis will look to avenge their loss and add to an already impressive resume.
“We are confident in the success we’ve had in our non-conference games, and attribute a lot of that success to our mindset this year on focusing on us, and what we do well as a team, as opposed to too much of a focus on our opponents,” guard Tori Andrew ’21 said.
According to the latest poll released by College Insider on Tuesday, Yale ranks 18th nationally among mid-major conference teams. Princeton and Penn are the only Ivy League teams ranked above the Bulldogs, and Harvard rounds out the rankings at number 25.
Although the Blue and White has proved itself as a team with some key non-conference victories, the Ivy League will present a whole new challenge. In terms of RPI, the Ancient Eight is ranked eighth nationally, a testament to the quality and strength of the schedule of each of the league’s teams. The competitive nature of the league will surely make for a gripping run-up to Ivy League Madness in March.
Nevertheless, the Bulldogs are entering their Ancient Eight contests with total confidence.
“We think we have a great chance to do something special this year,” captain Megan Gorman ’20 said. “The league is always extremely competitive. Anyone can win on any given night, so you really have to focus on the game in front of you.”
At just under 0.500, Brown enters Ivy play looking to prove itself. Winning three of their last four games, the Bears seem to be hitting their stride at the right time. Over the holiday break, Brown defeated Fairfield and Florida International before falling to University of South Florida. In this stretch of games, guard Justine Gaziano averaged 23 points per game and shot 57.1 percent from 3-point range. Gaziano is just the fifth Brown player to ever score more than 1,500 points in her career.
The Brown standout will likely be guarded by Yale guard Roxy Barahman ’20. Barahman leads the team in scoring with 16.1 points per game. Barahman’s offensive production is complemented by her relentless defensive pressure, which will make for a must-see matchup against Gaziano. Yale’s two other leading scorers are guard Ellen Margaret Andrews ’21 and forward Camilla Emsbo ’22, who average 15.3 and 15.2 points per game respectively.
Even as the Bulldogs transition into Ivy play, their mindset and approach will remain the same.
“We are looking to learn from both what went well and what we struggled with in the first half of the season,” Andrews said. “Specifically we are hoping to execute better on defense, find a more consistent flow on offense and utilize all of the weapons that our roster has.”
The Elis’ first matchup against Brown tips off at 5 p.m. at John J. Lee Amphitheater. Saturday’s contest in Providence then begins at noon. Both games will be streamed live on ESPN+.
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