The Yale women's basketball team returns home, where it is unbeaten in its last four games, to take on Penn and Princeton in the first full weekend of Ivy League play. The Bulldogs are coming off of their first sweep of Brown since the 2007-08 season. A win over Penn would give Yale its first 3-0 start in Ivy League play since that 2007-08 season, when the Bulldogs followed that sweep with a win at Columbia. The last time Yale started Ivy play at 4-0 came in 1986-87 when it opened with a pair of wins over Brown along with wins at Cornell and Columbia.
After starting its season at 2-4, Penn stopped that slide with three straight wins, but it has since lost three of the last four, with the only win being its first win over a Big 5 rival since 2004. The win over La Salle on Jan. 19 was the 400th win in Penn's history. Penn earned six non-conference wins for the first time since 2004-05. Penn has allowed just one opponent to reach 60 points in the last eight games, and that was Temple in the Quakers' most recent loss on Jan. 22. The Quakers have been outrebounded just six times in the 15 games this season, and they have lost the last 22 games in which they have allowed at least 60 points.
In a series that dates back to 1974-75, the two teams have met 66 times since and the series is deadlocked at 33 wins each. Yale swept the season series in 2009-10, including a dominating 70-38 win at John J. Lee Amphitheater. The teams are also an even 5-5 during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as Yale's head coach, but the Bulldogs have claimed four of the last five victories. A Yale victory on Friday will give the Bulldogs their first 3-0 start to the Ivy League season since the 2007-08 season.
Penn freshman guard Alyssa Baron is already making an impact on the Ivy League. Following last week's performances against Big 5 foes La Salle and Temple, she was named the Ivy League Co-Player of the Week and the Ivy Rookie of the Week. It is the fourth time this season that she earned Rookie honors. She currently ranks second among league leaders in scoring (16.1 ppg.).
Best D In The Nation
Of the 333 Division I women's basketball teams in the nation, no team has allowed fewer points this season than Penn. Through 15 games, Penn has allowed a total of just 812 points. Princeton, Yale's opponent on Saturday, is second in the nation with just 832 points allowed through 15 games. The Quakers rank 22nd in the nation in points allowed per game (54.1 ppg.) and 30th in field goal percentage defense (35.6 percent).
Last Time At Yale
Penn shot a season-worst 22.2 percent (12-of-54) while only one player managed to score more than seven points (Caitlin Slover, 12) in a 70-38 Yale victory in New Haven. Yale shot 45.5 percent (25-for-55) from the floor and 34.8 percent (8-for-23) from 3-point range. Yale forced 21 turnovers compared to its 11. It took more than three minutes for Penn to even hit the rim (two blocks and an airball on the first three shots), and Yale led 9-0 before Caroline Nicholson scored Penn's first points with 16:57 left in the first half. Megan Vasquez scored 12 points to lead the Bulldogs in a balanced effort. Melissa Colborne and Yoyo Greenfield each had 10 points, while a total of eight players scored at least five points.
Penn assistant coach Kara Cassidy is a former standout at Quinnipiac. The 2003 graduate is in her second season on the Quakers' staff.
Princeton finished the month of November at 3-2, ending the month with a 74-68 loss at Vanderbilt. However, the Tigers have lost only once since, ringing off five straight wins prior to a 70-61 double-overtime loss at St. Joseph's. The Tigers are currently in the midst of a four-game winning streak prior to Friday's game at Brown. Princeton will visit Brown Friday prior to Saturday's trip to New Haven to face Yale. The weekend's games are the first for Princeton since Jan. 4, when it beat Penn to open Ivy League play. The Tigers have taken the last 24 days off for final exams and the semester break.
In a series that dates back to Yale's first season as a varsity program in 1973-74, the two teams have met 73 times prior to Saturday, with Princeton playing Yale more times than any other opponent. The Tigers lead the series 43-30, and they have won the last three meerings, with their last loss to the Bulldogs coming in a 56-54 decision in New Haven on Feb. 13, 2009. In games played at Yale, the Bulldogs hold a 19-16 advantage in the series. The Bulldogs are 3-7 against the Tigers during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as head coach at Yale.
Princeton won the Ivy League in 2009-10 with an unblemished 14-0 record. Since full double-round robin play began in the 1986-87 season, a team has gone 14-0 just four times, including Harvard in 1996-97 and 2002-03, Penn in 2000-01 and Princeton last year. However, counting the Ivy opener against Penn, the Tigers have now been untouchable in a stretch of games that span parts of three seasons. Princeton is currently riding a 20-game conference winning streak, which is third in the nation behind only UConn and Stanford.
In The Polls
Princeton began the 2010-11 season receiving votes (one point) in the preseason ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. The Tigers fell from the poll over the next three weeks, but reclaimed a spot in the receiving votes list in both the Dec. 7 and Dec. 14 polls. In the most recent CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25, Princeton climbed to No. 3 in the poll, trailing only Green Bay (17-1) and Bowling Green (16-2) In the most recent RPI ranking released by the NCAA on Jan. 24, Princeton (No. 49) is the top Ivy League team, ahead of Harvard (No. 172) and Yale (No. 221).
Last Time At Yale
Freshman Niveen Rasheed recorded her eighth double-double of the season to lead Princeton to a 65-44 win at Yale. Rasheed tallied 18 points and 14 rebounds, along with four assists, three steals and a pair of blocks. Lauren Edwards scored 17 points for the Tigers, while Addie Micir added 14 points. Princeton opened the game with a 14-4 run. Yale cut the deficit to 15-8 before Princeton dropped five quick points to make it 20-8 at 11:35. The teams battled throughout the remainder of the half, with Princeton gaining a 14-point lead but allowing Yale to get as close as eight down the stretch before taking a 37-26 halftime lead. Princeton started the second half with a 10-4 run and never looked back. Princeton held Yale without a field goal over a 7:19 span late in the half.
Out For Season
Princeton sophomore forward Niveen Rasheed, the Ivy League Rookie of the Year last season, will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in her right knee during a 67-61 win over Davidson on Dec. 29. Rasheed was leading the Ivy League in scoring at the time of her injury with 16.4 points per game. She was also second in the Ivy League in rebounding (7.3 rpg.). She was well on her way to another stellar season prior to the injury, winning the Ivy League Player of the Week twice in the first four weeks of the season.
Introducing The Class of 2015
Four players will join the Bulldogs' roster as incoming freshman for the 2011-12 season. On Thursday, Jan. 27, the Bulldogs announced the additions of Sarah Halejian, Hayden Latham, Arrice Bryant and Natasha von Kaeppler. Halejian, a 5-9 guard from Franklin Lakes, N.J., is a two-time North Jersey Player of the Year and entered the season already atop her school's all-time scoring list. Latham, a 5-9 guard from Greenville, S.C., is a two-time South Carolina Coaches Association Women's Sports Player of the Year and a 1,000-point scorer. The two guards are versatile additions that can play multiple positions. Bryant, a 6-2 center from Detroit, brings size and power to the roster along with a soft touch around the basket. She was ranked as the No. 39 center among the nation's recruits for the Class of 2015 by ESPN. Finally, von Kaeppler, a 6-0 forward from Palo Alto, Calif., will join her sister, Ericka, on the roster. Natasha is already her school's all-time leader in rebounds, double-doubles, field-goal percentage and steals.
Breaking Out The Broom
With the 71-59 win at Brown, Yale earned its first sweep of the Bears since the 2007-08 season. Yale opened Ivy play with a 66-54 win at home. Megan Vasquez led all scorers with 18 points and five steals. Mady Gobrecht recorded her second consecutive double-double and third of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Yale has opened Ivy League play with the home-and-home series against Brown in every season since 2002-03.
Ivy League Honor For Vasquez
After scoring 18 points and collecting five steals in the Jan. 21 71-59 win at Brown, sophomore point guard Megan Vasquez was honored by the Ivy League as its Co-Player of the Week. It was her first Player of the Week award. She earned the Rookie of the Week honor three times last year on her way to finishing the year with a spot on the All-Rookie team. It was her first double-digit scoring performance since the Jan. 2 home win over Bucknell in which she scored 16 points.
Cleaning The Glass
In the Jan. 14 win over Brown, Yale outrebounded its opponent for just the second time this season (39-35). Mady Gobrecht was a big reason for the Bulldogs' big night under the glass. Gobrecht grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds in the victory. She secured her second double-double of the season in the win, adding 11 points to the 14 rebounds. She also blocked four shots.
Graf Reaping The Rewards
After scoring a career-high 26 points to power Yale to a 66-54 win over Brown in the Ivy League opener on Jan. 14, freshman forward Janna Graf became the first Yale player to win both the Ivy League's Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week honors in the same week since Erica Davis won both awards on Jan. 12, 2004. Graf is the first player in the Ivy League to win both honors since Princeton's Addie Micir earned both awards on Jan. 14, 2008. Against Brown, Graf broke her previous high of 22 points. Although she was 10-for-17 overall against the Bears on Jan. 14, she was a stellar 5-for-7 in the second half, including 4-for-6 from 3-point range, Yale used an 18-3 run late in the second half to break the game open. Graf opened and closed the run with a 3-pointer and scored 10 of Yale's 18 points in the run. The effort gave Graf her first Ivy Player of the Week honor and her third Rookie of the Week award in the last four weeks.
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. 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.
WBCA Pink Zone
The Bulldogs' Feb. 12 game against Dartmouth will be the main event of Yale's all-day WBCA Pink Zone event. The annual fund-raiser, 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 will take place throughout Payne Whitney Gymnasium, will once again include a "Battle of the Badges" competition featuring the Yale and New Haven police and fire departments. The Yale gymnastics team will host the Bulldog Invitational, while the women's and men's swim teams will compete against Brown.
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 then-No. 15/14 Florida State. Against Quinnipiac, Cashen tallied 20 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists. Graf averaged 16.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in the two games. She scored a career-high 22 points and grabbed five rebounds in the victory over Florida State and tallied 11 points and nine rebounds against Quinnipiac. Vasquez averaged 22.5 points in the two wins.
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 10 games with her concussion, while Vasquez and von Kaeppler both returned to action against Sacred Heart.
Dish And Assist
Normally, the assists category is dominated by the guards, but in the Ivy League, two Yale post players have found their way onto the leaderboard. Junior forward Michelle Cashen and senior forward Mady Gobrecht are among the top 10 in the Ivy League in assists. Cashen is fourth in the conference with 3.1 apg., while Gobrecht is fifth with 3.1 apg. In fact, Yale players take up four of the first nine places on the top 10 list. Sophomore guard Aarica West is second in the league with 3.9 assists per game and sophomore guard Megan Vasquez is ninth with 2.7 apg.
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.
Off And Running
Ivy action is in full swing this week as all eight squads take to the court for their first Friday/Saturday League slate. Every matchup will be key as the teams vie for the 2010-11 Ivy League title (and NCAA Tournament bid), as well as the runner-up position, which will be granted an NIT berth. Reigning Ivy champ Princeton (12-3, 1-0) hits the road to Brown (4-12, 0-2) and Yale (6-10, 2-0), the latter of which is one of three unbeatens early on in Ivy League play. Penn (6-9, 0-1) also faces off against the Bulldogs and Bears, seeking its first Ivy win. Meanwhile, Harvard (9-6, 1-0) and Dartmouth (4-11, 0-1) travel to Columbia (2-14, 1-1) and Cornell (4-11, 1-1).
2010-11 Ivy League Preseason Poll
Voted on by a panel of Ivy media and women's basketball sports information directors, Princeton received 16 of 17 first-place votes and 135 points and are expected to repeat as the Ivy League champion.
Predicted Order of Finish (First-Place Votes in Parentheses)
In games played through Jan. 23, 21 Ivy League players have recorded at least one double-double this season. Yale's Megan Vasquez, Michelle Cashen and Mady Gobrecht are all members of the club. Seven Ivy players have tallied at least two double-doubles, including Gobrecht (3). Dartmouth's Brittany Smith had four and Princeton's Niveen Rasheed had three before both suffered season-ending injuries.
Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity