With five seconds remaining in a tied ballgame, St. Joseph’s guard Katie Jekot drove to the hoop. As the Yale defense collapsed in on her, she passed the ball out to her teammate Alayna Gribble in the corner. Gribble swished home a three-pointer with just 2.4 seconds left on the clock, and after a final defensive stop, the Hawks of St. Joseph’s (2–6, 0–0 A10) sent the Yale Bulldogs (5–4, 0–0 Ivy) home with a three-point loss, 49–52.

The Blue and White were unable to match SJU’s energy early, as the Hawks jumped out to a 23–7 lead by the end of the first quarter. However, after the poor defensive start, the Bulldogs surrendered only 29 points the rest of the way. The team managed to fight their way back into the game but ultimately came up just short. 

Head coach Allison Guth was proud of the way her team responded to the early deficit but explained that such a slow start can make it hard to win games. 

“Tonight, [the game] came down to having to erase a 19 point deficit,” Guth wrote in an email to the News. “We can’t put ourselves in the position where we give us 23 points in the 1st quarter… We have to play with a more consistent mental focus… When we are disciplined we are a tough defensive team.  Discipline means doing it right, EVERY TIME.”

The team’s interior defense has been a strength all year, but struggled for the entire first half. St. Joseph’s first-year forward Laila Fair scored ten of her 12 points in the first two periods, all of which came on layups. 

Elles van der Maas ’24 knocked two crucial three-pointers in the second quarter to keep the Bulldogs in the game. But despite this, the deficit had ballooned to 19 with just over seven minutes remaining in the quarter. Before the game could get out of reach for the Elis, van der Maas calmly scored six points over the span of 34 seconds to inject new life into the Yale bench. Still, the team still entered the halftime break down 35–18. 

Alex Cade ’22 described what she viewed as the team’s primary issue in the early stages of the game.

“We just need to start off with the amount of pressure we end all of our games with,” Cade said. “We like to make the game more challenging than it needs to be. We were able to fight back because we have a team that has [a] tremendous amount of heart and grit.”

The Bulldogs clawed their way back into the game in the third quarter, primarily thanks to a defensive turnaround. Fair made one midrange jump shot within the first two minutes, but the Hawks would manage only one more basket for the rest of the third quarter. 

The Bulldog offense came to life as well, led by its frontcourt tandem of Cade and Camilla Emsbo ’23. The two upperclassmen combined for 10 of the team’s 19 points in the quarter. 

“The third quarter really proved that we deserved that game,” van der Maas said. “It showed our team how well we can fight and how hard we can push ourselves. I’m really proud of the girls for that.”

The final period of play was a back-and-forth, grind-it-out affair. A layup by Cade gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the game with eight minutes and 56 seconds remaining. The Hawks then made a three-pointer to reclaim the lead before Jenna Clark ’24 tied the game at 43. For the next four minutes, neither team could manage a basket.

Finally, with just over four minutes remaining, Yale broke through. Cade made two free throws and Clark hit a three-pointer from the right wing to give the Blue and White a 48–43 lead with three and a half minutes to play. The Hawks called a timeout to regroup, but it seemed like the momentum of the game had shifted against them.

The Hawks wouldn’t go away, though. Gribble and Jekot, two graduate students for the Hawks, showed their veteran poise. With just over two minutes left, Jekot came off a pick-and-roll to find Gribble for a corner three-ball, which she calmly splashed home. On Yale’s ensuing possession, the Hawks picked off a lazy entry pass, and Jekot found her way to the basket for an easy layup to tie up the game. 

Each team made one free throw on its next possession, leaving the score tied entering the final minute. Yale had a chance to take the lead on a three-pointer by Klara Astrom ’24, but it came up short. St. Joseph’s executed its final play perfectly, and Gribble coolly knocked down a corner three. Yale turned the ball over on its last-chance inbounds pass to end the game.

The defeat marked the second consecutive loss for Yale. While the team has generally been reliable in close games, the greater concern seems to be that the Bulldogs’ offense has struggled to consistently put up points. 

“You’re not going to win a lot of games shooting 31% from the field and 27.3% from three,” Coach Guth wrote. “I would tell you we actually got the looks we wanted tonight- we just didn’t convert them.”

The Bulldogs will next face off against LIU on Dec. 8.

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.