Facing adversity for the first time early in the 2021-22 season after two tough losses, the Yale women’s basketball team (5–2, 0–0 Ivy) responded with back-to-back road victories over the Boston University Terriers (2–4, 0–0 Patriot) and the Fairfield Stags (3–3, 0–0 MAAC) last week. 

The young team, which features just four upperclassmen, showcased its resiliency in the pair of wins. In an email to the News, head coach Allison Guth spoke about the growth mindset that the team has adopted early in the season.

“We are a work in progress and focus after a win or loss on what there is to improve with our areas of deficiency,” Guth said. “This team has really impressed me with how coachable and eager they are to take a concept or a game plan and bring it to life. We keep being real with ourselves, accountable to improving on our weaknesses and that’s what has translated on the floor.”

On Wednesday, the Blue and White pulled out a victory over BU, winning 57–51. The teams were largely evenly matched over the first three periods. The Terriers led 12–7 at the end of the first and 27–23 after the second quarter. The Bulldogs clawed their way back into the game after halftime and entered the fourth quarter clinging onto a one-point lead. 

The team proceeded to make a 9–2 run to open the fourth. While the game remained close, the Terriers never managed to get back within one possession for the rest of the contest. Yale put the game away with a true team effort, with their last four baskets coming from four different scorers.

Coach Guth highlighted the team’s tough defense as a primary reason for their victory.

“Our team had a total commitment to disturbing BU’s point of attack in their offense,” Guth said. “We executed our game plan on-ball screen coverage and disturbed both the rhythm and success BU had on their continuous ball screen motion. We were more effective in disrupting their shooter’s rhythm.”

On Sunday against Fairfield, the Bulldogs looked like they might dominate early, as they led 22–10 at the end of the first quarter. But in the second, the Stags stormed back, reclaiming a 27–26 lead just five minutes into the period. Things only got worse for Yale, as the Stags stretched their differential over the next two quarters. With the Blue and White facing a seven-point deficit with 4:28 remaining in the game, a Yale victory seemed improbable.

However, the team turned it around to finish the game on a 15–2 run to secure the victory. Elles van der Maas ’24 started the rally with a clutch three-pointer with 4:12 remaining and Camilla Emsbo ’23 followed with a layup to cut the deficit to two. Lou Lopez-Senechal, who finished with a game-high 27 points, scored the Stags’ final points of the night to put her team up by four. From there, it was all Bulldogs, as they outscored Fairfield 11–0 over the final minute and 43 seconds of regulation.

Emsbo recorded 17 points and 10 rebounds against the Terriers and 26 points and 11 rebounds against the Stags. She has now recorded a double-double in all seven of the Bulldogs’ games, and leads the nation in the statistic. Emsbo has also been a defensive presence, blocking one shot against both BU and Fairfield, while contesting countless others in the middle of the team’s Pack Line defense.

Jenna Clark ’24 was another key contributor in both of these games and has led the team in assists in every contest this season. The Clairton, Pennslyvannia native notched five assists against BU before tallying eight more against Fairfield. Clark was quick to credit others for her early-season success.

“Personally, I think putting in a lot of work over the year off and having amazing trainers allowed me to start this season prepared,” Clark said. “Working with my coaches and teammates has also helped us all build chemistry and confidence. 

The rest of the starting five all chipped in to help the Bulldogs return home with victories this past week. Klara Astrom ’24 poured in 26 points with a 47 percent three-point percentage across the two games. Christen McCann ’25 scored 13 against BU and Alex Cade ’22 notched 11 against Fairfield. 

Yale’s bench got outscored 40–15 during the two contests. However, the group has plenty of time to improve given that many of the Bulldogs’ bench contributors are first years.

Beyond all of the individual numbers, the Blue and White have found their winning formula. Captain Roxanne Nesbitt ’22 summarized the importance of the bounce-back wins, and the team’s mentality moving forward. 

“[Our losses] exposed a lot of offensive and defensive deficiencies we needed to fix,” Nesbitt explained. “We came into practice ready to learn and work through our mistakes. As a team, we understand that this season will have its ups and downs as we learn to play together … We also like winning.”

The Bulldogs will play three road games before returning home again on Dec. 11 against University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Andrew Cramer is a former sports editor, women's basketball beat reporter, and WKND personal columnist at the YDN. He still writes for the WKND and Sports sections. He is a junior in Jonathan Edwards College and is majoring in Ethics, Politics & Economics.