The Yale women's basketball team rings in the new year in hopes of gaining momentum prior to the start of the Ivy League season. The Bulldogs return home after suffering a pair of losses at the fourth-annual Fordham Holiday Classic. On Sunday, the Bulldogs take on the Bison from Bucknell. It will be the second straight game for the Bison against an Ivy League opponent. On Thursday, the Bison slippped past Cornell, 54-45. Sunday's matchup is the sixth home game of the season for the Bulldogs.
Last Time Out
The Bulldogs traveled to the Bronx, N.Y., campus of Fordham University, where they joined Fordham, Villanova and Sienna in the Fordham Holiday Classic. In the tournament's opening game, the Bulldogs dropped a 62-44 decision to Fordham on Dec. 29, and then they wrapped up the tournament with a 57-44 loss to Villanova on Dec. 30. Senior forward Mady Gobrecht was the lone Yale representative on the All-Tournament team. She averaged 11.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in the two games.
Bucknell will close out its non-conference schedule today at Yale. The Bison are also looking for their fourth win of the season. They are looking for back-to-back wins for the first time this season after beating Cornell on Thursday. However, all three of Bucknell's wins have come at home. After winning its first game of the season, Bucknell lost eight of its next nine games, including five straight losses before breaking that stretch with the victory over Cornell. Bucknell, picked to finish last in the Patriot League following a last-place finish last season, return three starters and eight letterwinners from that squad, but introduce a pair of freshmen guards, Shelby Romine and Shelby Trotter.
Shelby Romine is already making her presence felt at Bucknell. She has started all 11 games and is leading the team in scoring (14.6 ppg) and assists (2.7 apg). She has already won the Patriot League's Rookie of the Week three times this season. She is the team's lone threat from long range, hitting 23-of-54 shots (42.6 percent) from 3-point range. Only three other Bison players have made a 3-pointer and none have made more than four this season. Romine is also leading the team in minutes played (37.1 mpg). No other Bison plays more than 27.5 mpg.
With the next victory, Head Coach Kathy Fedorjaka will earn her 200th win while at the helm at Bucknell. She currently holds a 199-187 record at Bucknell and a 266-225 record in her 18-year coaching career.
In a series that dates back to 1994, Yale and Bucknell have played five times. After three games in the mid-1990s, the two teams will meet for the third straight season on Sunday. Neither team has won back-to-back meetings. Yale's first two wins in the series were the most one-sided of all the games. Yale earned a 74-56 win in the first meeting on Jan. 9, 1994, and then bested that margin by one point with a 62-43 win on Dec. 7, 1997.
The Last Meeting
Senior Melissa Colborne scored a team-high 10 points and Mady Gobrecht added nine points and a team-high seven rebounds to lead Yale to a 54-50 win at Bucknell. All nine players who got into the game for Yale scored. Freshman Megan Vasquez led the bench effort with nine points in reserve. Morgan Wrightson led all players with 22 points and eight rebounds to pace the Bison. Rachel Voss scored 12 points behind an 8-for-9 effort from the foul line.
The Bison feature a solid post player in Lindsay Horbatuck, a sophomore forward from Avon, Conn. She is averaging 6.5 rebounds per game, including three double-digit rebounding efforts. She led the Bison in steals as a freshman (34) and is leading the team once again in total steals (17).
Holiday To Forget
Yale spent the holiday week in the Bronx, N.Y., taking part in the fourth-annual Fordham Holiday Classic, along with Fordham, Villanova and Sienna. It turned out to be a tournament that the Bulldogs would love to forget. Yale lost both games, falling to Fordham, 62-44, on Dec. 29, and closing out the tournament with a 57-44 loss to Villanova. Yale led at halftime in both games, but watched both opponents use big second-half runs that took the Bulldogs out of both games.
Classic Honor For Gobrecht
A bright spot in the Fordham Holiday Classic was the play of senior forward Mady Gobrecht, who averaged 11.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in the two games. She earned a spot on the All-Tournament team, joining Villanova's Lindsay Kimmel and Laura Sweeney, Fordham's Kyara Weekes, and Sienna's Serena Moore as the five players to earn recognition for their efforts.
One For The History Books
Yale earned perhaps the biggest victory in its 38-year history on Saturday, Dec. 18, when it stunned Florida State 91-85. At the time, the Seminoles were ranked 15th in the Associated Press Top 25 and 14th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. It is Yale's first-ever win over a ranked opponent. It was just the second win for the Bulldogs in 10 attempts against an opponent from the ACC. Yale's first win against the ACC came against North Carolina State University on Nov. 22, 2008. Megan Vasquez and Janna Graf each recorded career scoring highs. Vasquez scored 25 points, which was the highest scoring output for a Yale player since Melissa Colborne scored 27 against Cornell on Feb. 20, 2009. Michelle Cashen recorded her first double-double of the season (11 points, 13 rebounds), while Graf tallied the first 20-point effort of her Yale career with 22 points. Aarica West dished out 10 assists, becoming the first Bulldog to record at least 10 since Stephanie Marciano had 10 against Stony Brook on Dec. 7, 2007.
Ending The Streak
The historic win over Florida State halted Yale's seven-game losing streak. It was the longest losing streak during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as Yale's head coach since her first season when the Bulldogs began the 2005-06 season with 10 straight losses. The longest losing streak in Yale's history is 11 straight losses, which was recorded twice in the team's 38 seasons.
Dominating The Leaderboard
After leading the Bulldogs in scoring last season, sophomore point guard Megan Vasquez is already making her mark on the Ivy League leaderboards. Through Dec. 22, Vasquez is second in the Ivy League in scoring (15.5 points per game), just behind Princeton's Niveen Rasheed, who leads the Ivy League with 16.7 ppg.
Just Around The Corner
The non-conference portion of the 2010-11 season is nearing an end for the Bulldogs. Only two opponents remain on Yale's non-conference schedule. The Bulldogs will face Brown today. Following a week off, Yale will visit the West Point, N.Y., campus of Army on Jan. 9. The Bulldogs will begin Ivy League play in just over two weeks when they play host to Brown on Jan. 14 at Yale at 7 p.m.
Yale Sweeps Ivy Awards
After leading Yale to a pair of victories, including its first-ever win over a nationally ranked opponent, Michelle Cashen, Janna Graf and Megan Vasquez were all honored on Dec. 23 by the Ivy League for their efforts. Cashen was named the Ivy Player of the Week and Graf was named the Ivy Rookie of the Week, while Vasquez earned a place on the weekly Honor Roll. It is the first time Yale has swept the Ivy League's weekly awards since senior Erica Davis and freshman Melissa Colborne won the awards on Jan. 2, 2007. Cashen averaged 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game in the two wins. She scored 11 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the win over No. 15/14 Florida State. Against Quinnipiac, Cashen tallied 20 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, falling just two rebounds and two assists shy of recording the first triple-double in Yale's 38-year history. Graf averaged 16.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in the two games. She scored a career-high 22 points and pulled down five rebounds in the win over Florida State. She fell one rebound shy of her first double-double against Quinnipiac. She scored 11 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Vasquez averaged 22.5 points in the two wins. She scored a career-high 25 points versus Florida State, while she poured in 20 points against Quinnipiac.
Because of injuries and illness, Yale has yet to play a game this season with its lineup intact. Freshman forward Janna Graf missed the first three games of the season with mononucleosis. Starting guards Yoyo Greenfield and Megan Vasquez, as well as reserve forward Ericka von Kaeppler, all missed time due to concussion symptoms. Freshman forward Alexandra Osborn-Jones also missed time, sitting out the first six games of the season. Greenfield, the team's senior captain, has missed the last five games with her concussion, while Vasquez and von Kaeppler both returned to action against Sacred Heart.
Strength In Numbers
Despite allowing an Ivy League-worst 72.6 points per game through games from Dec. 22, the Bulldogs are still showing some positive signs on the defensive end. They are second in the Ivy League in steals with an average of 9.4 per game. They are also second in 3-point defensive shooting percentage, allowing 37 made threes, just one more than Ivy leader Penn, on just 30.3 percent success. Yale is also second in turnover margin at +3.0 per game. Offensively, the signs have been just as positive. The Bulldogs are third in the Ivy League in scoring (65.5 points per game) and third in field-goal percentage (37.5 percent). They are also second in the Ivy League in assists (16.2 apg).
The 20-Point Club
With their efforts against Florida State and Quinnipiac, Megan Vasquez, Michelle Cashen and Janna Graf became one of 14 Ivy League players who have scored at least 20 points in a game this season. Vasquez reached the mark in both games, with a career-high 25 points against Florida State and 20 against Quinnipiac. Graf notched a career-high 22 points against Florida State, while Cashen scored a season-high 20 points against Quinnipiac.
Stealing The Show
With the injury to senior captain Yoyo Greenfield, sophomore guard Aarica West is making the most of her time on the court. She has earned the starts in place of Greenfield in the last seven games. She is making her mark on both ends of the floor. She is leading the team in assists (3.6 apg) and in steals (1.9 spg). With games through Dec. 22, West was leading the Ivy League in steals per game (2.2). The new weekly rankings are due out on Monday, Jan. 3, 2011.
Dish And Assist
Normally, the assists category is dominated by the guards, but in the Ivy League, a post player is leading the way. Junior forward Michelle Cashen is leading the Ivy League in assists with 3.9 per game. In fact, Yale players take up three of the first four places on the top 10 list, and two post players are among the top eight. Sophomore guard Aarica West is second in the league with 3.6 assists per game and sophomore guard Megan Vasquez is fourth with 3.5 apg. Senior forward Mady Gobrecht is eighth among league leaders with 2.8 per game.
The Fab Four
Yale has bolstered its lineup for 2010-11 with four freshmen that are expected to make an immediate impact. Guard Amanda Tyson, forwards Janna Graf and Alexandra Osborn-Jones, and center Zenab Keita comprise one of the strongest freshman classes during Head Coach Chris Gobrecht's tenure.
Every Day is Mother's Day
Senior forward Mady Gobrecht is the daughter of head coach Chris Gobrecht. They are the only current active mother-daughter, coach-player tandems in Division I women's basketball. This is the sixth time in Yale's 157-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).
Seven teams on the Bulldogs' 2010-11 slate participated in the postseason last spring. Florida State and Princeton earned a berth in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Five others participated in the WNIT, including WNIT champion California.
Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity