NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Currently sitting in third
place at 6-4 in the Ivy League, the Yale women’s basketball
team may have already exceeded a lot of expectations. But with four
games remaining on the Ancient Eight calendar, the Bulldogs (11-13
overall) certainly haven’t finished proving anything to
themselves. On the slate for this weekend: an opportunity to
complete a sweep of defending champion Dartmouth (10-13, 5-4 Ivy)
and a chance to even the season series with historic rival Harvard
(16-7, 7-2 Ivy). Saturday’s contest with the Crimson will be
the final game at the John J. Lee Amphitheater in the careers of
seniors Melissa Colborne, Haywood Wright and captain Ashley Carter.
Both games will be streamed live on Yale
All-Access, with audio provided by WYBC, Yale’s student radio station.
Evan Ellis ’12 and Chelsea Janes ’12 will be on the
call on Friday, while John Song ’11 and Jonathan Zelig
’11L will take over for Senior Night on Saturday.
Last Time Out
Unbeaten Princeton visited the Elm City last Friday and downed the Bulldogs, 65-44, to keep its firm grip on the Ivy League lead. Yale rebounded on Saturday with an impressive 70-38 thrashing of Penn. The Bulldogs, who hosted their WBCA Pink Zone event against the Quakers, set season bests for turnovers committed (11), points allowed (38) and opponents’ shooting percentage (22.2%) in the contest.
Dartmouth, the defending Ivy League Champion, has lost its last four games against the top half of the current Ivy League standings en route to a 5-4 Ancient Eight record. Big Green, which is 10-13 overall, is led by the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, Brittney Smith. Smith is averaging a double-double this season with 12.3 points and 10.4 rebounds per contest, ranking her seventh and second in the Ancient Eight in those respective categories. Freshman Faziah Steen is the only other Dartmouth player to appear among the league leaders, ranking 20th in scoring with 8.9 points per game and landing at third with 2.0 steals per game.
Earlier This Season
The Bulldogs knocked off the reigning Ancient Eight champs on Feb. 13 in Hanover, 70-66 in double overtime, behind a team-high 19 points from freshman Megan Vasquez. Sophomore Michelle Cashen had 13 points, including the jumper that proved to be the difference, and ripped down nine rebounds. Vasquez’s 19 points, which matched her career high, came on 7-for-18 shooting from the field, including a pair of three-pointers. Junior Yoyo Greenfield and freshman Allie Messimer tallied eight points apiece, with four of Greenfield’s tallies coming in the overtime periods. Junior Mady Gobrecht had seven points and a team-best 10 rebounds, and freshman Alicia Seelaus notched six points and seven boards. Reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Brittney Smith posted a double-double for Big Green with 19 points and 10 boards. Her sister, Margaret Smith, scored nine points with 10 rebounds, and Sasha Dosenko pulled down a game-best 13 rebounds. Faziah Steen and Betsy Williams also reached double figures for Dartmouth with 13 points apiece.
One of the most potent offenses in the Ivy League, 7-2 Harvard boasts four players averaging double figures in 2009-10. The Crimson, which is 16-7 overall, is led by 14.3 points per contest from Emma Markley, who is also among the Ivy League’s leading rebounders with 7.3 boards per game. Brogan Berry runs the offense, posting 12.1 points and a league-best 6.0 assists per game. Berry also leads the Ancient Eight at the charity stripe with an .847 free throw percentage, while Christine Matera has been the league’s most prolific scorer from beyond the arc with 2.5 three-pointers made per contest.
Earlier This Season
The host Crimson shot a scorching 64.9% from the field, including a 71.4% clip in the second half, to derail the Bulldogs by a score of 88-65 in Cambridge on Feb. 12. Sophomore Michelle Cashen led three Yale players in double figures with 14 points. Junior Yoyo Greenfield and freshman Megan Vasquez joined Cashen in double figures with 11 points apiece, while senior Melissa Colborne added nine. Harvard freshman Victoria Lippert led all scorers with 21 points. Emma Markley (16 points) and Brogan Berry (15) also reached double figures for the Cantabs.
With their sixth Ivy League win of the season on Saturday, the Bulldogs have already eclipsed last year’s Ancient Eight win total (four) with a quartet of games still remaining in 2009-10. Yale enters the weekend with 11 overall wins, the same amount of victories posted in 2008-09.
A Long Time Coming
If Yale defeats Dartmouth on Friday night, it would mark the first time that the Bulldogs swept the defending Ivy League champion since toppling Harvard twice in the 1986-87 season. Yale has not swept Dartmouth since the 1997-98 season, a feat which included an overtime victory in Hanover.
Doing It with Defense
The Bulldogs are 9-2 when holding their opponents to 60 points or fewer. Yale has surrendered less than 20 points in a half in four victories, including just 15 points allowed in the first half of the Nov. 17 win over Army. Dartmouth also managed just 57 points in regulation against Yale on Feb. 13, but subsequently broke the 60-point barrier in a double-overtime Bulldogs’ victory.
Friday’s game against Dartmouth marks the fifth time this season that Yale will challenge a team that played in last season’s NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs have challenged 2008-09 NCAA Regional Finalist Arizona State (L, 82-46) and NCAA Second Round participant Kansas State (L, 78-59) as well as 2008-09 conference champions Sacred Heart (L, 76-67) and North Carolina A&T (L, 80-79), which needed a buzzer beater to sneak past the Bulldogs on Nov. 28. The Bulldogs edged Big Green, 70-66 in double-overtime, in the first meeting on Feb. 13 in Hanover, N.H.
Bulldogs Being Offensive
Yale shot over 60% in the first half of the home wins over both Cornell and Columbia. The Bulldogs connected on their first 10 shots from the floor, with the first miss coming on a half-court heave as the shot clock expired, en route to tallying 40 first-half points in a 74-50 rout of Big Red on Feb. 5. The next night against Columbia, Yale scored a season-high 47 points in the opening frame on the heels of 69% (20-29) shooting from the field. The combined 155 points tallied by the two teams are the most scored in an Ivy League game this season. Junior Yoyo Greenfield’s 20 points against Columbia marked a personal career-best as well as the first 20-point performance of the season for a Yale player.
Freshman Megan Vasquez, who leads Yale with 11.3 points per game in 2009-10, earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors for the third time this season after posting 13.5 points and 5.5 assists per game in the sweep of Cornell and Columbia on the weekend of Feb. 5. Thus far in 2009-10, Vasquez has made 11 starts in 24 games and averages 26.7 minutes of action per contest. In addition to her team-best scoring output, which slots her third among Ivy League freshmen and 10th in the Ancient Eight overall, she ranks sixth in the league in free throw percentage (.780) and ninth in steals (1.5 spg). Vasquez has scored in double figures 16 times this season, including a string of nine straight games from Dec. 9 to Jan. 18.
Climbing the Ladder
Two-time All-Ivy honoree Melissa Colborne is once again one of Yale’s offensive pacesetters in 2009-10 with 8.4 points per game. The senior, who ranked second in the Ivy League in scoring in each of the last two seasons, currently ranks fifth in Yale history with 1,373 career points. The former Ivy League Rookie of the Year has already eclipsed the Yale program records for free throws made in a game (14), a season (156), a career (471) and in a game without a miss (12-for-12).
No Sophomore Slump
Sophomore Michelle Cashen, a 2008-09 All-Ivy Rookie Team selection, has been one of the Bulldogs’ most consistent players this season. Cashen is currently one of five Yale players averaging over 8.0 points per game and is the Bulldogs’ top rebounder with 7.3 boards per contest, slotting her at fifth in the Ivy League on the glass. The sophomore, who is also among the Ancient Eight’s best from the field (ninth, .444) and at the free throw line (fourth, .803), has tallied four double-doubles in 2009-10.
Junior Mady Gobrecht blocked a career-best six shots in the Bulldogs’ 68-58 win at NJIT on Jan. 9. Gobrecht, who ranks sixth in the Ivy League with 1.2 blocked shots per game, accounted for the most blocks by a Yale player since Erica Davis ’07 turned back seven Sacred Heart offerings on Nov. 25, 2006. Senior Haywood Wright, the third-most prolific shot blocker in Yale history with 107 rejections in her career, swatted five shots in the Bulldogs’ next contest at Brown on Jan. 15.
Spreading the Wealth
Though only one Yale player ranks among the top 10 scorers in the Ivy League (Vasquez, 10th), the Bulldogs boast the only roster in the Ancient Eight with five active players averaging over 8.0 points per game. The Bulldogs, who have eight players contributing at least 17 minutes per game, have had five different players lead them in scoring and six different players lead the way in rebounding this season.
The double-overtime win at Dartmouth on Feb. 13 was the Bulldogs’ first multiple-overtime game since a 94-92, triple-overtime loss to Princeton on Feb. 15, 2003. The Bulldogs have won their last five overtime games, but had never won a multiple-overtime contest (0-2) prior to Saturday. Yale last defeated the defending Ivy League champion on its home court on Feb. 19, 2004, downing Penn at the Palestra, 74-64. That game in Philadelphia also went into overtime.
The Feb. 5-6 victories over Cornell and Columbia marked the first Ivy League weekend sweep for the Bulldogs since downing Harvard and Dartmouth on Jan. 26-27, 2007. Yale has now swept Cornell and Columbia in New Haven on back-to-back days on 13 occasions, while Big Red and the Lions have never knocked off the Bulldogs in consecutive games at Lee Amphitheater.
New Haven? Where’s That?
The Bulldogs ushered out 2009 and welcomed in 2010 with seven consecutive games away from the familiar confines of the John J. Lee Amphitheater. Yale’s 33-day hiatus from action in the Elm City, which started in nearby Hamden, Conn. at Quinnipiac and ranged as far west as Boulder, Colo., spanned five states and three time zones. The Bulldogs also went 33 days without a home game last season, a stretch spanning six games from Nov. 18 to Dec. 21, 2008.
Picking on the Patriot
The Bulldogs went 3-0 against Patriot League foes this season, besting Holy Cross, Army and Bucknell. Yale was 1-2 against the same trio of opponents last season, posting a win at Holy Cross while dropping one-possession decisions to both the Bison (73-70) and Black Knights (62-60).
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 Nov. 13. 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.
A Sign of Things to Come
With 15 points in the season-opening win against Holy Cross on Nov. 13, Megan Vasquez became 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.
Branches on the Coaching Tree
Chris Gobrecht was very familiar with her counterparts on the Arizona State bench on Nov. 19. Charli Turner Thorne, the head coach of the Sun Devils, was an assistant on Gobrecht’s staff at the University of Washington. 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 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 Fairfield.
Earning Extra Credit
Prior to the Feb. 13 double-overtime win at Dartmouth, Chris Gobrecht’s last multiple-overtime game occurred when she was head coach at the University of Southern California: a 91-79 triple-overtime loss at Washington on Jan. 7, 2001. Her last win in a multiple-overtime contest was a double-overtime victory for her University of Washington squad over Northern Illinois, 101-91, on Nov. 30, 1991. Coach Gobrecht’s 1983-84 Cal State Fullerton team also won a double-overtime game (98-96 vs. BYU, Jan. 14, 1984), rounding out the 30-year Division I head coaching veteran’s career record at 3-1 when a contest goes beyond 45 minutes of action.
Making the Rounds
The Bulldogs’ 14 non-conference games featured teams from nine different conferences: America East, Big 12, Big West, Great West, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern Athletic, Northeast, Pac-10 and Patriot. Additionally, Bryant is a Division I Independent in its probationary period (ineligible for postseason play) with the Northeast Conference.
Princeton controls its own destiny in the race for the 2009-10 Ivy League Championship, having defeated every other Ancient Eight squad at least once en route to a 9-0 league record. Second-place Harvard (7-2) has lost at Princeton, but is yet to host the Tigers this season, as is the case for defending champion Dartmouth (5-4). Columbia remains in contention as well, tied for third place with Yale at 6-4, though the Lions have defeated just one Ancient Eight team (Dartmouth, twice) with a winning league record. Brown (4-6), Cornell (1-9) and Penn (0-9) round out the current Ivy League standings.
WBCA Pink Zone
The Feb. 20 win over Penn was the main event of Yale’s all-day WBCA Pink Zone event. The annual fundraiser, formerly known as “Think Pink”, is dedicated to raising awareness and donations for breast cancer research, with this year’s proceeds being donated to the Smilow Cancer Hospital. The festivities, which took place throughout Payne Whitney Gymnasium, began at 10 a.m. on Feb. 20 with a “Battle of the Badges” bench press competition. The day also consisted of a Yale gymnastics meet, health fair, silent auction and many chances to win great prizes and support an important cause.
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).
With placement in the Ivy League standings still up for grabs, Yale will close out the 2009-10 regular season next weekend with trips to New York foes Columbia and Cornell. Tip-offs from New York City on Friday night and Ithaca on Saturday night are slated for 7 p.m.
report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity