Bulldogs Move Into Second Place In Ivy League With Two Games Left
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The Yale University women's basketball team was aiming to win more than eight games against Ivy League competition in a season for the first time in 22 years on Saturday. To do so, the Bulldogs had to pull off their first season sweep of Harvard 17 years.
Sophomore guard Megan Vasquez scored 15 of her game-high 23 points to help Yale accomplish both feats thanks to a 78-64 win over Harvard at Lavietes Pavilion, the Bulldogs' first win at Harvard since Feb. 17, 2001.
The Bulldogs earned an 82-71 win over Harvard at Yale on Feb. 11.
"I thought the last win over them at home was the best win I've ever had here at Yale, but this one definitely beats it," senior forward Mady Gobrecht said. "Every time I've been up here, we have gotten blown out. I can't even describe what I'm feeling after this win."
The win moved the Bulldogs (13-13, 9-3 Ivy League) past Harvard (16-9, 8-3 Ivy League) into second place in the Ivy League standings with two games remaining. The win also gave Yale its first season sweep of Harvard since the 1993-94 season. The Bulldogs remain a game and a half behind Princeton (21-4, 10-1). The Tigers and Crimson both have three games remaining.
It is the first time that Yale has won more than eight Ivy League games since a 10-4 campaign in 1988-89 and the third time overall. The Bulldogs went 9-5 in 1986-87 and have finished 8-6 in league competition five times until this season.
"A Harvard win should be that big. That is a credit to them. That it is that big of a deal is only a complement to Harvard," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "We feel like we're playing really well right now. That is mostly where we are getting our confidence from right now. We are really catching our stride. We had been waiting for that to happen and finally it did. It's awesome."
Trailing 6-4, Yale took control of the game using a 23-4 run over a 7:51 span to open up a 27-10 lead with 8:47 left in the half. Senior captain Yoyo Greenfield scored five of Yale's points in the run, while Mady Gobrecht and junior forward Michelle Cashen each had four points in the run.
Yale's defense was just as stellar in that span, holding Harvard to only one field goal — a Brogan Berry jumper at 14:55 — and a pair of free throws.
However, Harvard regained its composure during an official timeout at 7:55 and came back on the floor and scored the next six points before sophomore guard Allie Messimer stopped the run with a 3-pointer at the 3:15 mark.
Harvard wasn't finished, however, and completed a 12-5 run over the final 7:24 to trim the deficit to 32-22 at the halftime buzzer. Elise Gordon scored Harvard's final six points of the half, including a layup at the buzzer to give the Crimson the momentum heading into the locker room.
Freshman forward Janna Graf kept Yale in control of the game at the start of the second half, scoring eight of Yale's first 12 points of the half, keeping Yale ahead 44-32 with 14:06 to play.
"The way we started the second half was critical because they had a lot of momentum going into halftime and that's where Janna really gave us a lift at the beginning of that second half," Coach Gobrecht said. "She was fresh because she sat so much of the first half after picking up her second foul (with 9:08 left in the first half)."
Harvard responded with an 11-3 run to trim the deficit to 47-43 with 8:28 remaining, but that was as close as the Crimson would get.
Vasquez regained control of the game for the Bulldogs with a 3-pointer followed by an old-fashioned 3-point play that put the Bulldogs back on top 53-43.
"That was huge that Megan made those plays. The clutch free-throw shooting was also huge for us at the end from Megan, Michelle and Aarica West," Coach Gobrecht said.
Harvard got no closer than six points, and that came inside the final minute. Yale sank 13-of-14 free throws in the final 1:22 to secure the victory. Cashen made 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch, while Vasquez and sophomore guard Aarica West each went 4-for-4 from the line.
Vasquez was 7-for-8 from the foul line and added seven rebounds to her fifth 20-plus-point performance of the season. Cashen finished with 17 points, including an 11-for-12 performance from the foul line, and eight rebounds, while Graf finished with 13 points. West chipped in seven points, nine rebounds, six assists, and six steals, with all seven points coming in the second half.
Senior Emma Markley was the top Harvard scorer in her final home game of her Crimson career. She finished her Senior Night performance with 17 points. Victoria Lippert scored 14 points off the bench, while Berry added 13 points and eight rebounds.
"I had high hopes for us," Greenfield said. "I'm not saying I expected us to be in this position, but I'm really proud of the girls. I'm a positive person so I was hoping for this. We were only up by four with 8:28 left, so to actually push through and win is a big deal for us."
Yale returns home to close out the 2010-11 regular-season schedule. The Bulldogs will play host to Columbia on Friday at 7 p.m. On Saturday, the Bulldogs will honor seniors Yoyo Greenfield and Mady Gobrecht during pregame Senior Night festivities prior to taking on Cornell at 7 p.m.
"We have something to play for," Coach Gobrecht said. "We have the possibility of postseason play. We have to take care of business next weekend."