WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Roxy Barahman, Megan Gorman elevate Elis to new heights
The 2019–20 Bulldogs tied a program record with 19 total wins.
Though its campaign was curtailed due to coronavirus, the Yale women’s basketball team reached new heights this season. Captained by forward Megan Gorman ’20, this year’s squad tied the program record with 19 total wins. Standout guard Roxy Barahman ’20 fueled the Elis on both sides of the floor as she wrote her name into the Yale history books.
After an intense preseason, the Blue and White opened its season at home against Providence. However, when the Bulldogs emerged from the locker room to warm up for the third quarter, they encountered something no one could have expected — the scoreboard at John J. Lee Amphitheater had gone dark.
“I have never been a part of something so strange in all my years of playing basketball,” Gorman said. “It’s a weird feeling to leave a game that is only halfway through.”
Despite the strange feeling, the Bulldogs were not deterred. Rather than lamenting the odd situation, the Elis shifted their focus to Quinnipiac, a local rival with a strong basketball pedigree. In a Wednesday night game well attended by the student body, the Bulldogs showed glimpses of their true potential as Barahman’s 23 points propelled the team to its first victory of the year.
With one win under its belt, the team set in motion one of the most successful seasons in program history. A four-game winning streak heading into Ivy play solidified Yale’s status as a legitimate contender in the conference. Following a 79–72 victory against Brown in the first game of conference play, the team was officially off to its best start to a season in program history.
The record-setting performances did not stop there. With wins against Columbia and Cornell, the Bulldogs extended their streak to eight consecutive victories — an unmatched feat in the program’s 47 years. The wins, however, did not always come easily. At Cornell, Yale finished the first-half down by 14. Throughout the first two quarters, the Elis struggled from the field, shooting just 28.6 percent. But after halftime, the tide shifted.
Barahman and forward Camilla Emsbo ’22, both among the top five scorers in the Ancient Eight at the time, took control of the contest. Emsbo tallied 10 rebounds and 24 points for her sixth double-double of the year, while Barahman finished with a team-high 26 points. With eight points in the fourth quarter alone, Barahman showed off her trademark characteristics: confidence, humility and an innate desire to win.
“The comeback was truly a testament to our roster’s depth, but also to the amazing leadership of our point guard – Roxy,” guard Ellen Margaret Andrews ’21 said. “She put the team on her back in the second half and had a will to win that was unmatched. When I saw the determination in her face, I just felt like there was no way we weren’t gonna win!”
Armed with grit and determination, Barahman played pivotal roles in games throughout her career. Despite being sidelined for part of her first year due to injury, the California native burst onto the scene the following year. She helped the team record its first ever 19-win season en route to earning a coveted spot in the Ivy League Tournament.
Barahman’s growth only continued during her junior year. She topped the Ancient Eight in scoring with 18.6 points per game, cementing her status as the premier point guard in the league.
“I can’t say enough about that kid, about her growth. Freshman year, she didn’t know what defense was,” head coach Allison Guth said. “She was really excited about the offensive end of the game. I demanded more out of her, and she stepped up to the plate.”
Perhaps the most memorable moment of Barahman’s career came last year in a matchup against archrival Harvard. Down by two points with six seconds remaining, Barahman took matters into her own hands. After receiving the inbound, the guard split two defenders before heaving a half-court attempt. She sank the shot, earning her team a victory and herself a spot on ESPN’s Top 10 Plays.
Although Barahman’s miraculous Hail Mary is one of the most memorable shots in Yale women’s basketball history, the guard’s reputation extends far beyond that single moment. Despite having her career cut short, Barahman finished fourth on Yale’s all-time career points list with 1,513 points. Her defensive tenacity led to 2.5 steals per game this season — the most of any player in the Ivy League.
With Barahman’s prolific scoring and a host of talented players working alongside her, the Bulldogs defeated Dartmouth and Harvard in their final two contests of the regular season. With a 9–5 conference record in tow, the Elis entered the Ivy League Tournament as the three seed. But just days before the semifinal matchup against Penn, Ivy Madness was cancelled as the coronavirus toppled the sports world.
Unlike the suspension of the season opener against Providence, the tournament could not be rescheduled for a later date. As the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic took root, Barahman — along with fellow seniors Gorman and Jess Lezon ’20 — faced a stark reality: their Yale careers were over.
Despite the devastating news, the Class of 2020 left an indelible mark on the women’s basketball program. Although Barahman, Gorman and Lezon will not be on the hardcourt next year, they established a winning culture that will persist for years to come. As Andrews prepares to captain next year’s team, she draws on the legacy of these seniors in her quest to build upon their success.
“The seniors were really able to put Yale basketball on the map like it never had been before,” the future captain said. “Each of them have been integral to our success over the past few years, but their impact has been much bigger than that … We will forever be inspired by their loyalty and commitment to helping us grow as both people and players. We will miss them dearly.”
Drew Beckmen | firstname.lastname@example.org