NEW HAVEN, Conn. – All season long, the
Yale women’s basketball team has been winning with defense.
In fact, in all of their first eight wins, the Bulldogs held their
opponents to 60 points or fewer. On Saturday night against
Columbia, Yale proved that offense can win games as well, pouring
in a season-best 81 points en route to an 81-74 victory at the John
J. Lee Amphitheater in New Haven. Leading the way for the Bulldogs
in the Ivy League win was junior Yoyo Greenfield, who tallied a
career-high 20 points. Freshman Megan Vasquez matched her
career-best with 19 points and also set a new personal high with
Yale, winners of four of their last five games, improves to 9-11 overall and 4-2 in the Ivy League. The Bulldogs’ four Ivy League victories match their league win total from last season with eight Ancient Eight contests still left to play. Tonight’s victory, coupled with the Bulldogs’ 74-50 win over Cornell on Friday night, completed Yale’s first weekend sweep of Ivy League opponents since downing Harvard and Dartmouth in January of 2007.
Columbia, which won at defending league champion Dartmouth last weekend, also sits at 4-2 in league play and drops to a 13-7 overall record.
Greenfield’s career-high scoring output, which earned her a share of the game high in points, came on 8-for-15 shooting from the field and a 4-for-7 mark from three-point range. The junior guard, who is shooting better than 50% from the floor and from downtown in Ivy League play, has twice scored 19 points in her three-year career. Vasquez knocked down three three-pointers in game, as Yale hit a season-high 10 treys on 15 attempts (66.7%). The Bulldogs shot 49.2% (30-61) from the field and 78.6% (11-14) from the free throw line in the contest.
Not all of the Yale scoring came from the perimeter, however, as sophomore Michelle Cashen and senior Melissa Colborne each netted double figures with 15 and 10 points, respectively. Cashen also had the game high of nine rebounds, outrebounding the nation’s leading rebounder in Columbia’s Judie Lomax, who had eight boards, and falling just one shy of her second consecutive double-double.
Colborne, a former Ivy League Rookie of the Year and two-time All-Ivy honoree, moved into sixth place on Yale’s all-time scoring list with 1,344 points. With her double-figure output, the senior from Calgary, Alb. Has surpassed the 1,336 career tallies by Katy Grubbs ’99 and sits just 27 points shy of Yale’s all-time top five in scoring.
Cashen’s nine boards led a Yale effort that outworked the Lions on the glass by a 38-34 margin. Junior Mady Gobrecht had six rebounds, as well as five points, and senior Haywood Wright tore down five from the glass. Lomax’s eight boards marked the second-lowest rebounding output this season for the former Pac-10 All-Rookie Team honoree (at Oregon State), who entered the contest averaging a Division I-best 14.4 rebounds per game.
Lomax, who is also the Ivy League’s leading scorer, matched Greenfield’s 20 points and was joined in double figures by three other Lions: Melissa Shafer (13), Danielle Browne (11) and Lauren Dwyer (10). As a team, Columbia shot 45% (27-60) from the floor, 41.7% (5-12) from three-point range and 65.2% (15-23) from the free throw line.
Yale didn’t quite match its hot start from last night, in which the Bulldogs hit their first 10 shots in the victory over Cornell, but the home team did race out to a quick 8-2 advantage, led by four early points from Vasquez. The Yale lead remained at one or two possessions for much of the first half, until an 11-4 Bulldogs’ spurt bore a double-digit cushion, 41-31, with just 2:28 left in the half. The Lions responded with the next six points, trimming the lead back to four points with under a minute remaining in the half, but back-to-back three pointers from Greenfield and Cashen in the final 60 seconds sent Yale into the locker room with a 10-point advantage, 47-37.
Greenfield had a half-best 13 points, fueled by a 3-for-3 showing from three-point range, while Cashen added 11 points and five boards over the first 20 minutes. Columbia kept the game close due in large part to its constant full-court pressure defense, as the Lions turned 13 first-half Yale turnovers into 22 points. The Bulldogs turned Columbia over on seven occasions in the stanza but only converted two points off of the visitors’ miscues. Columbia was led by 12 points and four rebounds from Lomax.
Yale maintained its momentum from the 6-0 run that closed the first half of play, scoring the first eight points of the second half to build an 18-point lead and force Columbia Head Coach Paul Nixon to call a quick 30-second timeout. Columbia came out firing after the stoppage, erasing the Yale run with a 10-0 spurt of its own to trim the deficit back to 10 points at 55-45. However, it was once again the three-pointer that propelled Yale, as triples from Vasquez and senior captain Ashley Carter ran the lead back to 16 points at 61-45.
The Lions refused to fade away, however, and steady a scoring output complimented by intermittent defensive stops soon chiseled the Yale lead down to eight at 70-62. A pair of free throws from Wright extended the Bulldogs’ advantage back to double digits, 72-62, with 5:07 remaining, but Columbia put forth a final charge, rattling off nine straight points to reduce the margin to just one point, 72-71, with 1:24 left in regulation. Greenfield slashed to the hoop and sank a layup on the ensuing possession to put Yale back up by three points, and Columbia came up empty on its next trip by missing a pair of free throws. Cashen hauled down the rebound on the second free shot, drawing a foul in the process and sinking a pair from the stripe to give the Bulldogs a two-possession advantage at 76-71 with 37 seconds remaining. The Yale defense forced a Columbia turnover on the ensuing possession, and Vasquez followed with two free throws for Yale to ice the game. The Bulldogs continued to hit their attempts from the charity stripe down the stretch, and the Lions would not score again until a Shafer three-pointer went home in the closing seconds, as Yale completed the weekend sweep with an 81-74 victory.
“I’m not sure which was more important for us moving forward: the way we got out to a big lead or the way we fought to hold them off,” said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women’s Basketball at Yale. “But the most important thing is that we beat a very good basketball team tonight.”
Yale, which is unbeaten in three Ivy League home games, will have to win on the road next weekend to keep its hot streak intact. The Bulldogs travel to historic rival Harvard on Friday night before challenging the Dartmouth Big Green in Hanover, N.H. on Saturday. Both contests are slated for 7 p.m. starts.
“This team has been getting better and better all season,” said Coach Gobrecht, “and I think we’re ready to make a run.”
report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity