Yale Athletics

Yesterday, the Yale women’s basketball team (0–1, 0–0 Ivy) faced the Pittsburgh Panthers (1–0, 0–0 ACC) away at the Petersen Events Center to begin season play.

The team returns almost every single player from the previous season, including recently-elected captain Jenna Clark ’24. Clark, the point guard for the Bulldogs, looks to add on to her impressive numbers. She currently ranks seventh in assists in school history at 318 and had 293 points last season alone. At the end of the season, she was announced as a finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award, awarded to the top point guard in the country.

The Bulldogs also return Ivy League Co-Defensive Player of the Year Nyla McGill ’25 and five-time Ivy League Rookie of the Week selection Kiley Capstraw ’26. Last season, the Bulldogs went 13–14 and 7–7 in the Ivy League, placing them fifth overall.

The Panthers went 10–20 overall and 3–15 in the Atlantic Coast Conference last year. 

The game on Tuesday against Pittsburgh welcomed Clark and Haley Sabol ’24 back home as they looked to begin their season with a win.

McGill told the News of the team’s excitement ahead of their trip to Pittsburgh.

“Going into Pitt, it’s Jenna and Haley’s hometown, so that in itself is very exciting,” she said. “Just being able to play again after a long preseason is exciting enough. I am looking forward to getting back on the court in general because games are the best part of a season, but also definitely making a comeback from last year in terms of team performance.”

The game began with Pittsburgh winning the jumpball in the first quarter. Though they gained first possession, the Panthers had no answer for Clark and Capstraw, who combined for 13 points in the first quarter. By the end of the first, Yale led Pittsburgh 23–18.

The second period continued the aggression from the first. Halfway through the second, Clark was substituted to avoid fouling out of the game. Shortly after, the Bulldogs’ lead began to shrink. Points from Christen McCann ’25 and Brenna McDonald ’24 helped Yale stay in the game, but consistent fouls against the Bulldogs gave the Panthers 10 extra points off free throws. At the half, the Bulldogs trailed 34–42.

The third quarter began with Clark back on the court and the energy high. Though the Bulldogs continued to trail, it was clear that they were not backing down without a fight. Six of 10 total points by McDonald and four from Grace Thybulle ’25 cut the deficit to six with a score of 52–58.

At a minute in the fourth quarter, Yale cut the deficit against Pittsburgh to 74–76. Despite a continuous battle, a three-pointer by Pittsburgh’s Bella Perkins sealed the deal for the Panthers as they went on to defeat the Bulldogs 74–79.

Though they came up short against the Panthers, the battle from the Bulldogs remained evident, pushing for every point and rebound. Clark led the team both in points and assists, with 19 and nine, respectively. McDonald led with seven rebounds, while Capstraw was not far behind with five. Thybulle was seven for nine for field goals.

Mackenzie Egger ’25, who had two rebounds and four points against the Panthers, told the News that she is excited to demonstrate what Yale women’s basketball is capable of this season.

“I’m most looking forward to the camaraderie and teamwork this season,” she said. “We are collectively working towards an Ivy League Championship. I’m also excited about our non conference games, as we play a lot of strong teams, and to showcase what Bulldog Basketball is all about.”

The team returns home for a few more days of work before their next game. 

Egger said that these practices have been crucial for the team’s success.

“Practices have been essential in honing our skills and getting us in the right mindset,” she told the News. “They’ve helped us focus on our strengths and address areas for improvement, ensuring we’re well-prepared for the start of the season.”

The Bulldogs are set to face Saint Joseph’s this Saturday at the John J. Lee Amphitheatre inside the Payne Whitney Gymnasium. This is their last home game until Nov. 28.

Meredith Henderson covers women's basketball and field hockey. She is a first-year in Saybrook College from Keller, Texas. She plays varsity softball and is majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing.