On Wednesday night, the Yale women’s basketball team (6-4, 0-0 Ivy) faced off against the Long Island University Sharks (0-9, 0-0 NEC) on the heels of two close losses. The Bulldogs took an early lead, and never trailed after the first quarter, pulling away for a 65-37 victory.

All year, Yale has said that they are a defensive-oriented team, and their performance against LIU showed exactly how effective they can be on that end of the court. The Sharks managed to score only 14 points in the second half, which allowed the Bulldogs to increase their lead. Head coach Allison Guth was thrilled with her team’s effort, especially in the second half.

“​​It felt great to get on the road and take care of business on the defensive end,” Guth said in an interview with the News. “I’m proud of our team’s fight to extend the lead in the third quarter and maintain that.  We are very process-driven and although we won tonight, we are focused on making more out of our offensive possessions by taking care of the ball.”

On offense, ball security was an issue all night, as Yale committed 20 turnovers in the game. Foul trouble also struck the Bulldogs early as both starters in the frontcourt, Camilla Emsbo ’23 and Alex Cade ’22, each picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter.

This forced the Blue and White to turn to Grace Thybulle ’25 at the forward position, and she delivered in a big way. Thybulle scored 13 points on six field-goal attempts, including seven straight in the last two minutes of the first quarter. Thybulle explained that she just wanted to step in and keep the Bulldogs’ aggressive frontcourt mentality going.

“I knew I had to step up because [Emsbo and Cade] both got in foul trouble early on,” Thybulle said. “I wanted to go out and provide the security and strength that they always provide on the court.”

For a team that has struggled with bench production, Thybulle’s scoring was critical. She finished tied for second on the team in points, and even though she didn’t get as much playing time in the second half, her first-quarter scoring outburst was a critical moment in the game.

Guth expressed pride in her first-year forward, explaining that her brilliance against LIU wasn’t surprising after seeing her performance at practice and her eagerness to learn from the upperclassmen on the team.

“Grace was ready when her name was called tonight,” Guth said. “She has been attacking practice with such a high level of intensity and effort.  That translated in her minutes on the floor tonight.  What is incredibly special about Grace is that she fully trusts the process. She is so eager to both learn from Camilla and Alex, but also to challenge and prepare them.  Tonight, she was able to step up in a big way for our team.”

After the Bulldogs finished the first quarter up 19-13, they proceeded to let the lead shrink to just two points after the Sharks started the second quarter on a 7-3 run. But the Blue and White rebuilt their lead and entered the halftime break leading 30-23.

The Bulldogs scored the first nine points of the third quarter to open up a 16-point lead. Yale’s defense was stifling, forcing six turnovers and holding LIU to just four points in the period. As has happened a few times throughout this season, a thriving Bulldog defense makes their life easier on offense. 

Point guard Jenna Clark ’24 led an efficient Yale attack in the second half, recording eight points and three assists after the halftime break. She finished with a game-high 16 points on 58 percent shooting. Like Thybulle, Clark credited the team’s work during practice this week.

“I think getting in the gym this week and getting high-quality reps of game-like shots helped me get my field goal percentage up tonight,” Clark said. “After the two losses, we knew we wanted to have a dominant win and we got it with a huge margin tonight. We know we can play even better than tonight, so it gives us motivation going into the next few practices.”

The team preserved their big lead in the fourth quarter, outscoring LIU 17-10. The big lead also gave Yale the opportunity to play their young bench players. Nyla McGill ’25 played 26 minutes, more than double her previous career-high. And Haley Sabol ’24 scored the first six points of her Yale career. 

The Blue and White won the game 65-37, their largest margin of victory for the season. The game also marks the end of a long stretch of road games for Yale, as the team returns home on Saturday to take on University of Massachusetts Lowell.

ANDREW CRAMER