After losing three of its last four games, the Yale women’s basketball team enters the final three weeks of Ivy play tied with Harvard for third in the Ancient Eight. As teams begin to face off for a second time in conference play, the Elis will look to regain the momentum that fueled their eight-game win streak earlier this season.
In back-to-back home games last weekend, Yale (15–6, 5–3) failed to topple defending Ivy champions Princeton (No. 16) and Penn. As the race for one of four tournament spots intensifies, the Bulldogs now prepare to take on Cornell (9–11, 2–6) and Columbia (13–8, 4–4) for a second time this month. The Big Red, who are currently riding a five-game losing streak, will be looking to recover from recent losses to Harvard and Dartmouth. The Lions, however, recently defeated the Crimson and Big Green after falling to Penn, Princeton and Cornell. After defeating both New York state foes a few weeks ago, the Bulldogs are hoping another strong showing this weekend will give them the energy and confidence they need to take on Princeton and Penn a week from now.
“If we focus on ourselves programmatically rather than the minute details of the team we play, we can be great,” forward Camilla Emsbo ’22 said. “I think we proved to ourselves that [Princeton and Penn] are absolutely beatable if we make it through 40 minutes without the mental lapses that have been holding us back. We just need to carry the confidence that we started both games with, regardless of the circumstances.”
The second rotation of Ivy League games kicks off with Cornell on Friday. Though Yale boasts a 53–29 all-series record and 29–9 record at the John J. Lee Amphitheater, the Bulldogs fell to the Big Red at home last season.
In the teams’ first meeting this campaign, the Bulldogs got off to a slow start, and they trailed by 14 points at the half. But the Blue and White outscored the Big Red by 14 in the third quarter, tying the game headed into the final frame. Guard Roxy Barahman ’20 scored eight of her 26 points in the final quarter as the Elis came out on top with a 74–67 win.
The win against Cornell was the final game in the Elis’ eight-game win streak. The following week, Yale was defeated at the hands of archrival Harvard. Although the Blue and White responded with a win against Dartmouth the following day, losses against Princeton and Penn a week later dropped the Elis into a tie for third in the league.
Cornell has not won a game since its first matchup against the Bulldogs on Feb. 1. Currently in a tie for sixth in the Ivy League, the Ithaca-based school will be looking for a statement victory against the Bulldogs to spark a late-season push for a spot in Ivy Madness.
Nevertheless, if the Bulldogs play their style of basketball and stitch together a full 40-minute game, they should be able to send the Big Red back to Ithaca with a six-game losing streak in tow.
“We just have to do what we know how to do,” forward Alex Cade ’21 said. “I’m incredibly confident we can sweep this weekend as long as we continue to make the extra passes like we’ve been doing in practice.”
At 4–4 in the Ancient Eight, Columbia is just one game behind the Bulldogs in the conference standings. Entering the weekend after a dominant 89–64 win against Harvard, the Lions have an opportunity to tie or overtake Yale in the Ivy League standings and cement themselves as a legitimate contender for a spot in the postseason tournament.
When the teams met for the first time, the Bulldogs unleashed an offensive firestorm. Guard Tori Andrew ’21 drained six of six attempts from three-point range, while Emsbo tallied 12 points as a part of a well-balanced inside-out offensive effort. Barahman added 20 points as the Elis outscored Columbia 50–28 in the second half en route to a dominant 85–60 victory.
As the postseason approaches, this weekend could not be more important to the Elis. After dropping three Ivy games of their past four, two wins this weekend would firmly situate the Bulldogs among the top four teams in the conference. Anything less than that, however, will greatly complicate the Elis’ postseason aspirations.
“In order to make it to the tournament we’re going to have to continue having really strong practices and definitely execute our game plans,” guard Ellen Margaret Andrews ’21 said. “We also have to be really process-driven and just take it one day at a time to get better.”
The Bulldogs face Cornell on Friday at 6 p.m. and Columbia on Saturday at 4 p.m. Both games will be played on Yale’s home court at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.
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