Yale is looking to stay perfect in 2012 after its New Year's Day victory over Army. On Tuesday, the Bulldogs travel to Lewisburg, Pa., to take on Bucknell. This is the seventh meeting between the Bulldogs and Bison. Yale has won the last two meetings and three of the last four, including a 69-58 win in New Haven last season. Yale is 2-1 in games played at Bucknell, with the only road loss coming in the 1995-96 season (49-40). After Tuesday's game, the Bulldogs have one game remaining, at home vs. Baruch, before they jump into the Ivy League portion of the schedule. Junior guard Megan Vasquez continues to lead the Bulldogs with an average of 13.6 points per game. Sophomore Janna Graf has come on strong of late and is averaging 10.2 ppg. and 5.7 rpg. Bucknell has lost its last four games, and 12 of the last 13, heading into Tuesday's meeting with Yale. The Bison are led by sophomore guard Shelby Romine, who is second on the team in scoring and rebounding with 8.4 ppg. and 4.7 rpg.
Bucknell has struggled this season, especially on the offensive end of the floor. The Bison have averaged 49.0 points per game, scoring more than 55 points only twice, with a season-high of 57 scored in a 63-57 loss at Buffalo on Nov. 19. However, the Bison's strength is on the defensive end of the floor, where they have limited opponents to an average of 58.9 points per game. Opponents have scored more than 60 points in just seven of the Bison's 14 games this season, with a high of 78 points scored by No. 16 Penn State on Dec. 21. Overall, the Bison have been outscored by an average of 9.9 points per game this season. The Bison's struggles come early, as they average only 22.1 points in the first half. It also doesn't help that their leading scorer, freshman Amy Zehner has missed the last six games and is out indefinitely for personal reasons. She leads the team with 9.8 ppg. and and is third with 4.6 rpg.
In a series that dates back to the 1993-94 season, Yale and Bucknell have met six times. After three games in the mid-1990s, the two teams will meet for the fourth straight season on Tuesday. Yale has won the previous two 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. Prior to last season's game, the two previous meetings were the closest games in the series, with Yale winning at Bucknell, 54-50, in 2009-10, and Bucknell winning at Yale, 73-70, in 2008-09.
Yale forced 13 Bucknell turnovers in the second half and held the Bison without a field goal over a 7:28 span late in the game to secure a 69-58 victory in New Haven on Jan. 2, 2011. Yale used an intense defensive effort over the closing minutes to put the game out of reach. Shelby Romine's 3-pointer with 7:29 remaining was the last Bucknell field goal until the freshman guard scored on a layup with 1 second remaining on the clock. Megan Vasquez scored 16 points to lead the Bulldogs. Mady Gobrecht scored 11 of her 15 points in the second half to help the Bulldogs pull away. She also had seven assists and four rebounds. Romine scored a game-high 22 points to lead Bucknell. Yale outrebounded Bucknell 37-25, including 14-5 on the offensive glass.
The Bison feature a solid post player in Lindsay Horbatuck, a junior forward from Avon, Conn. She is averaging 5.8 points per game and a team-leading 7.8 rebounds per game. She is also shooting a team-best 45.9 percent (28-for-61). Horbatuck is one of two Bison players who have started every game this season. She has recorded five double-digit rebounding games this season and currently has 109 total rebounds. She is especially tough on the offensive glass. Of her 338 career rebounds, 138 have come on the offensive glass (40.8 percent).
Losing Battle of the Boards
Bucknell has failed to outrebound each of its last eight opponents, breaking even with Saint Francis (Pa.), NJIT and Penn State, but trailing on the boards vs. Canisius, Fordham, Cornell, West Virginia and Mount St. Mary's. The last time the Bison went more games without outrebounding its opponents was nine games at the end of the 2007-08 season and the beginning of the 2008-09 campaign.
Ceiling is 60
Bucknell has yet to hit the 60-point mark this season, registering a season-high 57 points at Buffalo on Nov. 19. Including last season, that brings the Bison to 18 straight games with fewer than 60 points. The last time they scored at least 60 points was Feb. 19, 2011, when they defeated Colgate 79-64 at Sojka Pavilion.
Yale's Last Time Out
Army freshman Olivia Schretzman had a chance to lift Army to a 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 on New Year's Day at Yale. Yale saw five players score at least eight points, and the balanced attack 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. Freshmen Sarah Halejian (9 points) and Arrice Bryant (6 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks) also turned in strong performances for Yale. 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.
Return to Tallahassee
Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball at Yale, made her first return to Tallahassee since she coached at Florida State in the 1996-97 season. Gobrecht took over for then-FSU head coach Marynell Meadors, who is now the head coach of the WNBA's Atlanta Dream. When Gobrecht arrived at FSU, the Seminoles had struggled through four straight sub-.500 seasons, including three seasons where the Seminoles combined for a total of 22 wins. FSU showed promise early on in Gobrecht's only season in Tallahassee, winning three straight games before Christmas to improve to 5-4 on the season. However, the challenges of playing in the always-tough Atlantic Coast Conference overwhelmed the Seminoles that season, and they finished the year with a 5-22 overall record, 0-16 in ACC play. Gobrecht left after that season to become the head coach at her alma mater, Southern California, where she coached for seven seasons before coming to Yale. Unfortunately, Gobrecht's return was not a winning one. FSU avenged last season's stunning upset at Yale with a 92-58 win over the Bulldogs on Dec. 28, 2011, in Tallahassee. Alexa Deluzio scored 15 of her game-high 20 points in the opening half to lead the Seminoles. Janna Graf scored Yale's first nine points en route to an 18-point night.
First for Vasquez
Junior guard Megan Vasquez, Yale's leading scorer in each of her three seasons on the team, may be close to becoming the 17th player in the program's history to record 1,000 career points, but her chase to reach that milestone hit a road block during Yale's game at Florida State. For the first time in her collegiate career, Vasquez was held scoreless in a game. Vasquez was 0-for-6 from the floor, 0-for-5 from 3-point range, for zero points against the Seminoles. That performance snapped a 65-game streak in which she scored at least two points in a game. Her previous low in her Yale career was two points, recorded last season in Yale's 52-37 loss at home to Princeton on Jan. 29, 2011. Her previous low this season was six points, tallied twice this season at Baylor (Nov. 22) and at Quinnipiac (Dec. 20).
Ivy Quest on Horizon
The quest for the Ivy League championship is now less than a week away as Penn and Princeton tip off the double round-robin schedule on Jan. 7 at Penn. As the only Division I conference without a postseason tournament, the League's 14-game conference slate becomes the "tournament" to determine which Ivy team wins the title and earns an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament. The team that finishes the season in second place earns the Ivy League's automatic bid to the Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT). Yale earned its first-ever WNIT bid last season after finishing a program-best 10-4 in league play. Yale has two games left on its non-league schedule before it begins Ivy League play at Brown on Jan. 13. Princeton is the two-time defending Ivy League champion. Yale is pursuing its first Ivy League championship since the 1978-79 season, when the league champion was determined in a mid-season tournament.
Picking on the Patriot
For the fourth straight season, Yale will face Holy Cross, Army and Bucknell. All three teams play in the Patriot League. Yale is 2-0 vs. the Patriot League heading into Tuesday's matchup at Bucknell. In the previous three seasons, Yale went 6-3 against the Patriot trio. Yale went 2-1 last season against the three teams, beating Holy Cross on the road and Bucknell at home, but falling at Army. The Bulldogs swept the three teams two years ago, but dropped two of the three games in 2008-09, gaining the lone win against Holy Cross.
Milestone Watch for Vasquez
Junior guard Megan Vasquez has now scored 851 career points. She needs just 149 points to reach 1,000 career points. She now has four 20-point outings this season, including Holy Cross (23), Marist (21), Houston (22) and Boston University (22). Vasquez scored 322 points in her freshman season and 366 points last season. If she approaches her average of 344 points from her first two seasons, she should reach the 1,000-point milestone at some point during the Ivy League season. In doing so, Vasquez will become the 17th player in Yale's history to reach 1,000 career points. The last Bulldog to reach the milestone was Melissa Colborne, who closed out her career with 1,418 points, fifth on Yale's all-time scoring list. If Vasquez continues to maintain her 344-point pace, she would finish in sixth place on Yale's all-time list with 1,376 career points.
Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr./Yale Sports Publicity