Yale will close out its non-league schedule Sunday afternoon with its first-ever meeting with Division III power Baruch inside the friendly confines of John J. Lee Amphitheater. The Bulldogs are looking to remain perfect in 2012 after a New Year's Day victory over Army followed by a dominating win at Bucknell on Tuesday. This is the final game for the Bulldogs before they begin Ivy League play at Brown on Friday. Junior guard Megan Vasquez continues to lead the Bulldogs. She raised her scoring average to 13.8 points per game following a game-high 17 points against Bucknell. Sophomore Janna Graf has come on strong of late and is averaging 10.4 ppg. and 5.6 rpg. Baruch has lost four of its last five games heading into Sunday's meeting with Yale. The Bearcats are led by junior guard Jessica Duleba, who is leading the team in scoring (13.7 ppg.), rebounding (5.9 rpg.), and assists (2.4 apg.).
The Bearcats of Baruch are coming to New Haven with a 6-6 overall record, including a 3-4 mark in games on the road. However, the Bearcats are 1-4 in their last five games, including 1-2 this week. Baruch's game against Yale is its fourth game in six days after a winter break that began after the Bearcats' game against Kean University on Dec. 14 and lasted until their home game against DeSales University on Jan. 3, an 18-day span between games. The Bearcats are led by junior guard Jessica Duleba, who is first on the team in points per game (13.7 ppg.), rebounding (5.9 rpg.), assists (2.4 apg.), 3-point shooting (41.7 percent, 10-for-24), minutes (29.2 mpg.), and second in steals (19).
When Baruch freshman Francess Henry visits Yale on Sunday, she will not be coming just to play a game with her Bearcats teammates. She is also coming for a Midwood High School reunion. Henry and Yale senior captain Michelle Cashen were once teammates at the Brooklyn, N.Y., high school. The pair helped lead the Midwood Hornets to a 14-10 overall record in 2007-08, Cashen's final scholastic season before she joined the Bulldogs. Cashen remembers her former teammate fondly. "I just remember that she was very skilled and played very smoothly. From what my high school coach told me, she only got better after her freshman year." In her first season with the Bearcats, Henry is averaging 4.5 ppg., 2.3 rpg, and 1.2 apg.
CUNY Shining Stars
Kiara Johnson (Week of Dec. 12), Jessica Duleba (Week of Nov. 21), and Iyana Abrams (Week of Dec. 5) have already garnered recognition from the City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNY). The conference has announced weekly awards five times this season, and Baruch has taken the Player of the Week honors in two of those five weeks and the Rookie of the Week honor once. Johnson earned Player of the Week honors after scoring 20 points in a 64-59 loss to Ithaca on Dec. 10. She was 6-for-9 from the floor, 6-for-7 from the foul line in the Bearcats' only game of the week. Duleba earned Player of the Week honors after averaging 18.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in a 2-1 week for the Bearcats that included her first double-double of the season (20 points, 10 rebounds vs. Rochester). In a 2-0 week for the Bearcats, Abrams earned Rookie of the Week honors after totaling 24 points and 13 rebounds in wins over CCNY and NYU.
Magician of Manhattan
While UCLA had its Wizard of Westwood in legendary coach John Wooden, Baruch, a Division III power located in the Flatiron District of Manhattan, has its Magician of Manhattan. Machli Joseph began his coaching career in 2004-05, his first season at Baruch. Since he took over as head coach, the Bearcats have won no fewer than 21 games in each of his seven seasons. In his rookie season, he coached the Bearcats to a then-record 21 wins, their first-ever postseason berth (ECAC) and the CUNYAC North Division regular-season championship. Things only got better from there. He guided the Bearcats to their first-ever CUNYAC Tournament crown and their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament. He holds an overall record of 163-54 in his eight seasons at the helm, including an astonishing 89-5 record in CUNYAC play. He has led the Bearcats to six CUNYAC regular-season titles and five CUNYAC tournament championships.
Baruch College is one of the flagship colleges in the City University of New York system, but there is an international flare to the women's basketball team's bench. Senior reserve guard Camille Voitot is from Bourg-en-Bresse, France, which is an hour drive from Lyon, France, and about 1.5 hours from Geneva, Switzerland, and four hours from Paris. Junior reserve guard Fanta Conde is also an international student from Conakry, Guinea. The coastal city lies near the Guinea border with Sierra Leone.
Last Time Out
On the road for the final time in non-league play, Yale dominated Bucknell, especially early on the in second half, to take a 69-48 victory in Lewisburg, Pa. The Bulldogs were led by junior guard Megan Vasquez, who scored a game-high 17 points behind an efficient 7-for-12 shooting performance. Sophomore forward Janna Graf tallied 13 points, five rebounds and a pair of blocks, while freshman guard Sarah Halejian added 13 points and four assists. The Bulldogs (7-6) put together their best shooting performance of the season, hitting 49.1 percent of their shots (26-of-53), including a season-best 54.5 percent from 3-point range (6-for-11). The Bulldogs were especially efficient in the second half, draining 13 of their 19 shots (68.4 percent). The Bulldogs pulled away from the Bison through the first 16 minutes of the second half, opening up a lead that reached 28 points (67-39).
Survival of the Fittest
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. 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.
No FSU Repeat
Florida State 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. Chelsea Davis recorded a double-double, with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Florida State shot a blistering 62.3 percent (38-for-61). The Seminoles also dominated the paint, outrebounding the Bulldogs 49-29 and outscoring the Bulldogs 60-8 in the paint. Yale struggled from the opening tip. Janna Graf scored Yale's first nine points en route to an 18-point night. No other Yale player reached double figures, though freshman Hayden Latham had nine points. The Bulldogs shot 17-for-66 (25.8 percent), their worst shooting performance this season.
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. When Gobrecht arrived at FSU, the Seminoles had struggled through four straight sub-.500 seasons. 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 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.
Ivy Quest on Horizon
The quest for the Ivy League championship began this weekend as Penn and Princeton tipped 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 one game 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.
Milestone Watch for Vasquez
Junior guard Megan Vasquez has now scored 868 career points. She needs just 132 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.