Graf's Double-Double Powers Yale to Victory Over Houston
HOUSTON, Texas — The Yale University women's basketball team needed a change in direction after two straight losses. Sophomore forward Janna Graf, despite an uneven start to her second season in a Yale uniform, proved to be the one who the Bulldogs relied on to right the ship on Friday night.
An All-Ivy Rookie Team selection last year, Graf recorded her first career double-double, pouring in 25 points and grabbing a career-high 13 rebounds to lead Yale to an 80-62 win at Houston in the Bulldogs' first game of the David Jones Classic at Hofheinz Pavilion.
Graf was 8-for-13 from the floor, including a stellar 5-8 from 3-point range, one make shy of her career high. She was one point shy of her career high of 26, which she set at Brown on Jan. 14, 2011, but it was her impact on the boards that really helped the Bulldogs (3-2) control the game.
Graf's 13 total rebounds surpassed her career-high mark of nine set on Dec. 20, 2010, against Quinnipiac, and her 11 defensive rebounds shattered her high of seven, which she set vs. Villanova on Dec. 30, 2011.
"I was happiest about her boards. She really took that part of her game to heart," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "It wasn't that the ball came to her. She really worked hard for a lot of those rebounds. She played well."
Junior guard Megan Vasquez erupted for 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting, after being held to just five in the first half. Freshman forward Hayden Latham made all seven of her free throws en route to a 12-point night. She also grabbed a season high eight rebounds.
The Bulldogs' effort on the glass is one area of the game that the coaches have been trying to find some consistency in the last week of practice. By the time Friday's game had ended, the Bulldogs finished with a rebounding edge of 52-34.
"I thought we did a much better job on the boards. We really took a step forward with our work on the boards," Gobrecht said.
Despite the finish, the game did not start out as well as the Bulldogs had planned. They missed 10 of their first 11 shots and found themselves trailing 15-5 with 13:00 left in the opening half. But Yale used an 11-2 run to trim the deficit to 19-18 with 8:23 left in the half.
Houston's Terran Alford followed with a layup to stop the bleeding and restore a three-point lead with 8:06 remaining, but Yale outscored the Cougars 24-7 the rest of the way, holding the Cougars (0-5) to just one field goal in that stretch.
Yale's bench outscored the injury-depleted Cougars' bench 14-0 in the opening half.
"It is going to be pretty rare for us to stay cold long," Gobrecht said. "We have too many kids that can score on this team. We know someone will hit their shots. Tonight it was Janna and Megan. Hayden and Sarah played well."
Yale maintained a comfortable lead throughout the second half, never letting the lead dip to less than 13 points over the final 20 minutes. Houston tried to make a run late in the second half, but the closest the Cougars got was 71-58 with 3:49 left in the game.
"I thought we did what we've been doing lately, which was we had stretches where we were brilliant and then we had stretches where we were not very brilliant at all. It is partly our youth that shows, but it is something that we have got to get over. We have to clean it up," Gobrecht said. "The things that we did to get the lead came from playing very good basketball on both ends of the floor. We were not very smart down the stretch. That was disappointing and we have to work on that."
Yale closes out its three-game Texas trip on Saturday against Texas-Pan American.