The Yale women’s basketball team dropped a crucial league matchup against Columbia (17–4, 8–1 Ivy League) on Saturday afternoon. The Lions took a commanding lead at the start of the fourth quarter and managed to withstand a furious Yale comeback bid in the final minutes.

It was a back-and-forth affair throughout the first half, as the Bulldogs headed into the locker room trailing 28–27. The game stayed close for most of the third quarter until the Lions ripped off a 13–0 scoring run to pull away. While Yale continued to fight, they could not get back within striking distance.

“I think we played great defense in the first half,” head coach Allison Guth said. “Our third quarter defense was atrocious. It started with poor shot selection that turned into runout threes for them. We just didn’t stick to our defensive gameplan … And we just didn’t put the ball in the basket.”

Both teams came out ready to play at a fast pace to start the game. Alex Cade ’22 scored the first two baskets for the Blue and White. However, Columbia’s Abbey Hsu took control of the game early, scoring seven of her 18 points in the first period. 

The Lions led by four at the end of the first, but the Bulldogs came storming back, thanks to a ferocious effort on the boards. Yale grabbed 11 offensive rebounds in the first half alone, leading to seven second-chance points. Mackenzie Egger ’25 chipped in with five points in the first half to help keep the Bulldogs in the game.

“I think my teammates were getting me in good positions to score the ball,” Egger said. “And some days it’s on and some days it’s off. And I guess today it was just hitting. I’ve just been working with the coaches. And everyone’s been stepping up their game. We just need to put it all together in the game sometimes.” 

After two quick Columbia layups and a timeout call by Guth, the Blue and White stormed back. Egger and Cade each hit big 3-pointers as the Bulldogs began to fight their way back into the game.

But the Lions didn’t fold. Instead, they responded by dominating the last four minutes of the quarter. Hsu, after a quiet second quarter and start to the third, reminded everyone why she leads the league in 3-pointers and ranks second in points. She started by hitting a jump shot to tie the game at 39 and then finished the quarter by knocking down a deep three from the top of the key to give the Lions a 48–41 lead.

Camilla Emsbo ’23, who finished the game with six points, two assists, two steals, two blocks and 19 rebounds, talked about the difficulty of trying to contain Hsu.

“Abbey Hsu is an incredible shooter,” Emsbo said. Our main goal was to run her off the three-point line. In the first half, we were mostly able to do that. But we weren’t able to get enough help from everybody else. It’s a tough draw to guard her. I just don’t think we were gritty enough.”

The Lions continued their hot shooting streak, stretching their lead to 14 in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter on a run capped off by another Hsu 3-pointer.

The Elis didn’t let up, but the deficit proved to be too much for the team to recover from. The Bulldogs tried their best to claw back and trailed by just five points with just over a minute remaining after another Egger 3-pointer, but the Lions made their free throws down the stretch to keep the lead.

While the game slipped away from the Blue and White late, there were still positive takeaways. On a night that began celebrating Emsbo’s 1,000th career point scored last weekend, the Bulldogs achieved a few more milestones. Egger and Cade each set new career-highs in scoring with 11 and 20 points respectively, and Emsbo also grabbed a career-best 19 boards.

“My teammates were really willing to pass it to me,” Cade said. “While I think there was some individualistic play on offense, there were some solid passes in our motion offense. And whenever [Emsbo] was doubled, she was really good at finding me on my dives.”

In spite of those individual milestones, the Bulldogs appear frustrated after dropping three of their last four outings. They currently sit tied for fourth in the league with Harvard with a 6–4 conference record.

Still, Yale has plenty to look forward to, with three of the team’s final four matchups coming against opponents the team has already beaten this year. 

“The team mentality this year has been that we want to put it all out there for our team,” Emsbo said. “But that’s sort of turned into an individualistic offense. That’s not to say that anybody on our team is selfish, but I think everyone wants to get it done. I think coming back together to figure out how we can work cohesively as a unit is the way we’re going to figure out how to have success moving forward.”

The Bulldogs will travel to Pennsylvania next week for back-to-back matchups against Penn and Princeton.

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.