WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Late-game turnovers doom Elis in matchup against Princeton
Princeton’s suffocating defense and clutch late-game scoring proved enough to stop Yale’s upset bid.
The Yale women’s basketball team (12–7, 5–2 Ivy) entered its Friday night matchup against the Princeton Tigers (14–4, 6–0) hoping to stake its claim on the top of the Ivy League standings. However, Abbey Meyers and Julia Cunningham combined for 41 points to lead the Tigers to a 61–49 victory.
The Bulldogs trailed for nearly the entire first half, but a Avery Lee ’25 jump shot and a Camilla Emsbo ’23 layup gave them a three-point lead heading into the halftime break. The teams traded runs throughout the third quarter and ended the period in a tied ball game. The game remained close until halfway through the fourth quarter when the Tigers went on a run to put the game out of reach.
“We’re all disappointed,” head coach Allison Guth said. “I truly believe that we had no offensive flow in the second half, and that’s not something you can do against a good team like that … We had no execution of our defensive gameplan in the second half so that’s something we have to be accountable about and get back in the lab and work on.”
Turnovers, an Achilles’ heel for the Elis all season, reared its ugly head again against Princeton. The Bulldogs gave the ball up 24 times, leading to 25 transition points for the Tigers. Yale also struggled with getting the ball inside to Emsbo. The junior forward, who leads the team in scoring, scored 11 points on just eight shots.
Guth and Emsbo both credited Princeton’s defensive scheme. The Tigers’ post defenders tried to deny her the ball, and when she did catch it, defenders often arrived to double-team her right away.
“It’s frustrating,” Emsbo said. “They did a great job. I think I need to do a better job of getting open and finding other ways to score because we had a really tough time getting it into the paint today. It’s going to be a lot of film, and I’m going to try to figure out how I can get open for my teammates because that’s a pretty important part of the game.”
Meyers, the Ivy League’s leading scorer, finished the game with 22 points, six rebounds, three steals and one assist. Beyond the numbers, she seemed to control the flow of the game throughout, and also seemed to fluster Yale’s Jenna Clark ’24 with her defensive presence.
15 of Meyers’ points came in the first half, but her second-half scoring came at timely moments. She hit a 3-pointer with just over six minutes left in the game to give the Tigers a one-point lead, and then banked in another 3-pointer with two minutes left on the clock to put her team up by eight, essentially putting the game out of reach.
Cunningham, who currently sits fifth in the Ivy League in scoring, also had a big game, including 13 second-half points. Even with their bench contributing just one point, Princeton scored the ball efficiently all game. The shot-making from Meyers and Cunningham alone seemed to cover up any flaws in the Tigers’ offense.
“[Meyers and Cunningham] are great players, all respect to them,” Clark said. “They’re amazing shooters. Abbey has some of the best pull-ups I’ve ever seen. We just missed some assignments and they made some really tough shots.”
The Bulldogs were shorthanded for the matchup, as Christen McCann ’25 missed the game with an injury. Her presence was missed greatly, as McCann often guards the opposing team’s best scorer, while also providing some scoring punch.
Klara Aastroem ’24 picked up some of the slack, pouring in 13 points, but ultimately it wasn’t enough for the Bulldogs. The defeat means that the Blue and White have now lost to the top two teams in the league, but still remain solidly in third place in the Ivy League standings. The game snapped a five-game winning streak for the Bulldogs.
“I think it was a chance to prove what our identity is and who we are as a team,” Emsbo said. “And I don’t think we completed that goal today … We know that not only are we up there with those teams, we can beat those teams, and we can be at the top of the league and we just let it go. That’s really frustrating.”
The Bulldogs will look to rediscover their winning ways on Feb. 4 at Dartmouth.