January 1, 2012

Yale Survives Last-Second Scare vs. Army

Shot by Army at Buzzer Rolls In and Out of Basket to Give Yale 1-Point Victory

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The Yale University women's basketball team knew the task of beating Army was not going to be an easy one, but the Bulldogs certainly didn't expect it to be as difficult as it turned out to be.

Army freshman Olivia Schretzman had a chance to lift Army to the come-from-behind victory, but her eight-foot jumper at the buzzer rolled in and out of the basket, allowing Yale to survive with a 63-62 win Sunday afternoon inside John J. Lee Amphitheater.

"I thought they were incredibly physical and it just wore on us," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "We needed to get to ourselves to the free-throw line and that needed to be the main thing for us in the second half. They weren't going to give us anything easy. They were going to hit us before they gave us anything easy. The reason the game was close was because of the boards. It continues to be our biggest nemesis. We have to find a way to fix it. We're not going to be great at it, but we have to find a way to be better at rebounding."

Yale had a 61-58 lead with 2:20 left thanks to a layup from Aarica West, but Schretzman tied the game with an old-fashioned 3-point play with 1:53 left. Anna Simmers, who led Army with 17 points, made 1-of-2 free throws with 1:30 left to give Army a 62-61 lead, but on the ensuing offensive possession, Graf missed a 3-pointer with 1:15 left and Vasquez grabbed the offensive board and scored on the put-back layup with 1:10 left to lift Yale to the victory.

Army had a full 30 seconds and one timeout remaining to plan its attack for the final shot, but the timeout was never called and the Black Knights scrambled to find someone open for the last-ditch effort. Despite the disarray at the end, Schretzman managed to get a good look at the basket for the final shot, but she couldn't get it to fall as time expired.

"They looked confused at the end," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "It looked like they weren't sure what they were looking for on that last play. We got exactly the shot we wanted at the other end and she barely missed it. We came down and stayed in front of. Olivia got it in a pretty good area of the floor, but it was still a tough shot."

Yale saw five players score at least eight points, and the balanced attach helped the Bulldogs improve to 6-6 overall with two games remaining in the non-league schedule. Michelle Cashen recorded her eighth career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs. Megan Vasquez also scored 11 points, one game after she was held scoreless by Florida State for the first time in her collegiate career.

Freshmen Sarah Halejian and Arrice Bryant also turned in strong performances for Yale. Halejian scored nine points, behind a 5-for-5 showing at the free-throw line. Bryant scored six points, grabbed nine rebounds, and blocked three shots.

Yale scored 21 of its points off of 16 Army turnovers. The Bulldogs outscored the Black Knights 12-2 on second-chance opportunities and the Yale bench outscored Army's reserves 20-0. Army, however, outrebounded Yale 47-41. It is the ninth time in 12 games that Yale has been outrebounded. The Bulldogs are now 3-6 in those games.

Yale led by as many as 10 points in the first half thanks to a strong first half from sophomore Janna Graf. She scored all eight of her points in the half to help the Bulldogs cruise into the locker room at halftime with a 34-25 lead.

Army was not going to go away quietly, however. The Black Knights (6-8) opened the second half with a 13-3 run over the first 5:07 of the half to take their first lead of the game, 38-37, with 14:53 to play.

"Our opening to the second half was poor. We did not come out of the locker room very well in the second half," Gobrecht said. "Once we relinquished the lead, we were fine. We played fine, but we never should have relinquished the lead. We came out very flat to start the second half."

It was a seesaw battle the rest of the way. Neither team was able to gain an advantage of more than three points over the final 10 minutes of play.

Jen Hazlett also scored 17 points for Army. Milford, Conn., native Molly Yardley recorded a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Yale returns to action on Tuesday at Bucknell in Lewisburg, Pa. The Bulldogs only have two more games before starting their Ivy League season. After Bucknell, the final non-league game is home against Baruch on Jan. 8 at 2 p.m.

Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity