For a trio of Yale seniors who have faced so much adversity throughout their careers, Saturday’s final home matchup against Cornell presents an opportunity for a great sendoff in John J. Lee Amphitheater. 

The Yale women’s basketball team (14–10, 7–5 Ivy) will look to clinch a spot in the Ivy tournament when it takes on the Cornell Big Red (9–13, 4–7). In addition to trying to realize their playoff aspirations, the Bulldogs will also be celebrating the careers of their three senior leaders, Alex Cade ’22, Robin Gallagher ’22 and captain Roxanne Nesbitt ’22.

In an interview with the News, Gallagher offered some insight into her thoughts ahead of her final game donning Yale’s home whites.

“Wow! Even the thought of senior night brings up a lot of emotions,” Gallagher said. “I think ‘grateful’ is the best word I can use to describe how I’m feeling right now… I appreciate everything [John Lee Amphitheater] has given me over the past four years, especially my teammates and best friends, so I think this game is about playing for them as much as it is playing for [Nesbitt, Cade] and myself to have one final great memory, one final win here.”

The Bulldogs enter the matchup against Cornell coming off a two-game road trip with mixed results last weekend. The team defeated Penn on Friday to put itself in prime position to qualify for Ivy Madness. 

Yale currently sits in third place in the standings, behind undefeated Princeton and one-loss Columbia — both of whom have already clinched spots in the tournament — and one game ahead of their rivals in Cambridge. The Crimson will host Ivy Madness this year at the Lavietes Pavilion.

The Elis need only one more win to clinch their spot in the postseason tournament. In order to book their trip to the postseason tournament, they will need to regain their form and bounce back from their heavy loss to top-seeded Princeton.

Nesbitt explained that the team studied the game tape and hopes to learn from its struggles against Princeton. However, the Elis don’t plan to let one bad loss diminish their confidence.

“The weekend is in the past, so we are doing our best to channel our emotions from those games into productivity,” Nesbitt said. “We started the week off with a very intense practice where we learned about Cornell’s tendencies and worked on our own deficiencies, so I’m excited to see how this translates on Saturday.”

While Cornell currently sits in sixth in the standings, it has won two of its last three games, with the only loss in that stretch coming in overtime against Dartmouth. The Big Red’s offense is defined by its balanced scoring, as the team features four players who average at least eight points per game.

When the two teams faced off earlier this season in Ithaca, the Bulldogs prevailed in one of their stronger defensive showings of the year, winning 62–44. Yale’s backcourt dominated the game, as Jenna Clark ’24 had a season-high 11 assists and Christen McCann ’25 made three of her five three-pointers.

The Bulldogs know better than to overlook their conference foes, especially in a game with such high stakes. In addition to senior night and the playoff implications, Cade mentioned that revenge will serve as another motivating factor.

“Cornell kicked us out of the Ivy League tournament when we were to host it [in 2019], and they are always an aggressive team to play against,” Cade said. “So that means we have to come prepared and come hungry to beat them come Saturday.”

The battle in the frontcourt could decide the game, as the matchup features three of the top six rebounders in the league. Cade and Camilla Emsbo ’23 combine for nearly 18 boards per game while Cornell’s Theresa Grace Mbanefo averages 7.8 per contest.

The Yale squad will hope to capitalize on its home court advantage. The Bulldogs are 4–2 at home in conference play and will try to use the emotions of senior night to fuel their performance without getting distracted from their gameplan.

“I don’t think I’ve fully processed that Senior Night is so soon and what that actually means,” Nesbitt said. “I know how emotional the night is for everyone, and I am so glad that I will be able to celebrate with [Gallagher and Cade]. For now, I’m mostly focusing on preparing for the game itself.”

Saturday’s game tips off at 2:00 p.m.

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.