Bulldogs to Host No. 7/14 Arizona State on Thursday

The Yale huddle. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
The Yale huddle. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - After posting back-to-back wins to open the 2009-10 campaign, the Yale women’s basketball team closes out its early season home stand against its toughest challenger thus far, No. 7/14 Arizona State. The Sun Devils (1-0) and Bulldogs (2-0) will meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday night at the John J. Lee Amphitheater in New Haven, Conn. The contest will be streamed live on the Internet via Yale All-Access with commentary by John Song ’11 and Leroy Cole ’12 from WYBC, Yale’s student radio station. WYBC will also broadcast the audio portion of the live stream on its website, WYBC.com.

Last Time Out
In Tuesday evening’s win against Army, Yale opened up on a 10-2 run and led from wire-to-wire en route to downing the Black Knights by a score of 55-42. Senior Melissa Colborne led the Bulldogs with 14 points in the contest, and sophomore Michelle Cashen tallied her second double-double of the young season with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

Against Ranked Teams
At No. 7 in the most recent ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll and No. 14 according to the Associated Press, Arizona State is the Bulldogs’ highest-ranked opponent since the opening contest of the 2007-08 season against No. 7/8 Stanford. The Cardinal, opening a season that would end with a loss in the NCAA National Championship Game, dispatched the Bulldogs by a score of 100-44. Yale’s most recent contest against a nationally-ranked team was the game following that Stanford game, at Arizona State. The Sun Devils, then ranked No. 14/15 in the nation, won that meeting, 84-38.

On Lockdown
The Bulldogs surrendered just 42 points in Tuesday’s victory over Army, including only 15 points allowed over the first 20 minutes en route to building a 37-15 halftime lead. The Black Knights’ offense had averaged 61 points in the squad’s first two games this season.

Climbing the Ladder
Two-time All-Ivy honoree Melissa Colborne currently ranks eighth in Yale history with 1,191 career points. Colborne is 71 points away from the seventh slot on the list and 180 points shy of the all-time top five (Lisa Brummel ’81, 1,371). In 2008-09, Colborne eclipsed the program records for free throws made in a game (14), a season (156), a career (413) and in a game without a miss (12-for-12). Her career free throw percentage of .770 (415-539) is fifth-best in Yale history.

Double Double-Doubles
Sophomore Michelle Cashen (13 pts., 15 rebs.) and junior Mady Gobrecht (12 pts., 10 rebs.) both posted double-doubles in the Bulldogs’ season-opening victory over Holy Cross on Friday. The last time two Yale players had double-doubles in the same game was on Jan. 13, 2007, when Erica Davis ’07 (21 pts., 11 rebs.) and Chinenye Okafor ’07 (10 pts., 13 rebs.) each performed the feat against Brown.

Starting Strong
Freshman Megan Vasquez led all Bulldogs with 15 points in her collegiate debut against Holy Cross on Friday night. Vasquez, who scored six points during a 13-0 run in the second-half that cut the Crusaders’ lead from 17 to 4 and later iced the game with four free throws in the final 24 seconds, shot 4-for-14 from the field and 7-for-8 from the charity stripe in the contest. She is the first freshman to lead Yale in scoring in her collegiate debut since Kaitlyn Lillemoe ’09 scored a team-best 19 points against New Hampshire to open the 2005-06 season.

Familiar Faces
The Bulldogs return four starters and eight letterwinners in total from the 2008-09 campaign. In addition, Yale expects to return junior Lindsey Williams, a unanimous 2007-08 All-Ivy Rookie Team selection who missed the entirety of last season due to injury, in time for the Ivy League slate.

Room for Six More
Yale has reloaded its lineup for 2009-10 with six freshmen expected to make an immediate impact for the Bulldogs. Guards Allie Messimer, Megan Vasquez and Aarica West and forwards Alicia Seelaus, Ericka von Kaeppler and Emily Wanger comprise the nationally-recognized Yale Class of 2013.

Scouting Arizona State
Coming off of a season that ended in the NCAA Regional Finals (Elite Eight) at the hands of the eventual unbeaten national champion, Connecticut, the Arizona State Sun Devils are currently ranked No. 7/14 in the nation and were selected to finish third in the Pac-10 Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The Sun Devils downed South Dakota State in their season opener, 73-64, at home on Sunday before making the cross-country trek to the Elm City. Becca Tobin scored a game-high 18 points while Kayli Murphy and Danielle Orsillo each chipped in a dozen points in the win over the Jackrabbits.

Series History
The Bulldogs and Sun Devils have met on the hardwood just once before, an 84-38 win by Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz. on Nov. 19, 2007. Yale is 0-4 all-time against the Pac-10.

Branches on the Coaching Tree
Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women’s Basketball at Yale, will be very familiar with her counterparts on the Sun Devils’ bench on Thursday. Charli Turner Thorne, the head coach of Arizona State, was an assistant on Gobrecht’s staff at the University of Washington. Prior to the Sun Devils’ postseason matchup with Connecticut, the New Haven Register cited that Thorne “still teaches the defensive principles she first learned from [Gobrecht]”. In addition, Arizona State Associate Head Coach Meg (Gallagher) Sanders played collegiately on Gobrecht’s Cal State Fullerton squad from 1982-85.

That’s a Lot of W’s
With 460 wins in her career entering 2009-10, Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women’s Basketball at Yale ranks 30th among active Division I coaches in all-time victories. Among coaches on Yale’s 2009-10 schedule, only Bill Gibbons of Holy Cross (476 wins) has more career victories than Gobrecht. Gobrecht and Gibbons are both topped, however, by another coach from the Yale sidelines: Associate Head Coach Dianne Nolan, who amassed 517 wins as head coach of St. Francis (N.Y.) and Fairfeld.

Nice to Meet You
Non-conference games against Toledo, North Carolina A&T (possible opponent), UC Davis and Colorado will all be first-time meetings.

Schedule Strength
Five teams on the Bulldogs’ slate participated in the 2009 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. Dartmouth, Sacred Heart and North Carolina A&T all received automatic bids as conference champions and lost in the first round to higher-seeded opponents. Kansas State advanced to the second round as a No. 5 seed, and No. 6-seeded Arizona State’s season ended in the Regional Finals (Elite Eight) at the hands of the eventual national champion, Connecticut.

Making the Rounds
Including possible opponents, the Bulldogs’ 14 non-conference games could feature as many as 10 different conferences (Big XII, Big West, Colonial, Great West, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern Athletic, Mountain West, Northeast, Pac-10, Patriot) as well a Division I independent (Bryant).

The Bulldogs in 2008-09
Shorthanded for much of the Ivy League season, Yale went 4-10 in Ancient Eight play in 2008-09 and 11-17 overall. Melissa Colborne earned a spot on the All-Ivy Second Team, and Michelle Cashen punctuated her freshman season with a selection to the All-Ivy Rookie Team. With a healthy roster in the pre-Ivy League season of 2008-09, Yale defeated North Carolina State- the program’s first-ever win over an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent- and was tied with Southeastern Conference foe Kentucky with 15 seconds remaining in the contest.

Top Dogs
Though there are 32 American universities with the “Bulldogs” mascot, last season’s win over Bryant marked just the second time that Yale women’s basketball had met another team sporting the “Bulldogs” moniker. The 2003-04 Yale Bulldogs dropped a 69-48 decision to the Gonzaga Bulldogs on Nov. 29, 2003 as a part of the Seattle Times Classic.

Every Day is Mother’s Day
Junior forward Mady Gobrecht is the daughter of head coach Chris Gobrecht. They are one of two active mother-daughter, coach-player tandems in Division I women’s basketball (Southern Mississippi: Coach Joye Lee-McNelis and Whitney McNelis). This is the sixth time in Yale’s 156-year athletic history that a head coach is mentoring his or her child in a varsity sport, and the first where the combo is mother-daughter (men’s fencing: Robert & Maurice Grasson, 1936-38; baseball: Smoky Joe & Joseph Wood, 1939-41; men’s basketball: Howard & David Hobson, 1952-55; men’s squash: John & Jack Skillman, 1954-55; football: Jordan & Harry Olivar, 1957-59).

Road Trip
After a seven-day hiatus from competition, the Bulldogs will be back in action next week at the Holiday Inn and Suites Express Midtown Thanksgiving Tournament hosted by the University of New Mexico. Yale will first challenge Toledo in Albuquerque, N.M. on Nov. 27, and will then play either North Carolina A&T or the host Lobos on Nov. 28. Times and media information are still to be announced.

Yale Women's Basketball
Arizona State Women's Basketball

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report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity