Vasquez Powers Another Yale Rally

Megan Vasquez. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Megan Vasquez. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Scores 17 of Her Points in Second Half to Lead Bulldogs Past Penn

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — The Yale University women's basketball team has trailed at halftime in all five Ivy League contests, but that hasn't prevented the Bulldogs from coming out victorious in all but one of those games.

That statistic held true Friday night. This time, Yale trailed 27-25 after the first 20 minutes at the Palestra, but junior guard Megan Vasquez scored 17 of her game-high 19 points to lead the Bulldogs to a 72-60 win over Penn at the Palestra Friday night.

For Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball, the win was the 499th victory of her coaching career. It was also Yale's third straight win and its seventh win in its last eight games.

With the win, Yale improved to 12-7 overall, 4-1 in Ivy League play, which leaves the Bulldogs just a half-game behind first-place Princeton before tomorrow's showdown in New Jersey. Princeton defeated Brown to remain an unbeaten 4-0 in Ivy League play.

Yale trailed by as many as seven points early on thanks to a 14-3 run that Penn used to turn things around after the Bulldogs scored the first four points of the contest.

Yale responded with a 10-2 run to reclaim the lead at 17-16, but Penn would not back down. The two teams traded baskets throughout the remainder of the half until the Quakers scored the final three points of the half to go into the locker room with a 27-25 lead.

The halftime stats did not look pretty for the Bulldogs. Penn outrebounded Yale 30-17 in the half, including 14 offensive rebounds that allowed the Quakers to maintain the advantage on the scoreboard.

Yale's defense made a big difference in the opening half, at least when referring to Penn's leading scorer. Sophomore Alyssa Baron was held to just four points in the half on 1-for-9 shooting.

The Yale offense turned things around in the second half. The Bulldogs opened the second half with a 15-3 to blow past Penn and open up a 40-30 lead, with Vasquez scoring seven of her points in that run. Yale maintained that cushion until late when Penn started to mount a comeback.

The Quakers (8-10, 1-3) pulled within two possessions, trimming Yale's lead to 66-60 with 1:04 left, but Janna Graf sank four free throws in the final 40 seconds to secure the victory.

All six Bulldogs who scored had at least seven points. Vasquez had eight rebounds in addition to her 19 points. Freshman guard Sarah Halejian scored 14 points to go with three steals. Junior guard Allie Messimer came off the bench to score 12 points, while Graf finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Senior captain Michelle Cashen added nine points, five rebounds, and five assists.

Yale turned in its second consecutive shooting performance of better than 40 percent. The Bulldogs were 25-for-60 overall (41.7 percent), 5-for-12 from 3-point range and 17-for-18 from the free-throw line. Yale went 31-for-68 (45.6 percent) at Dartmouth last weekend.

Baron finished with just 11 points on 3-for-22 shooting, including 0-for-5 from 3-point range. She also had 13 rebounds, seven assists and four steals, but Yale forced her to commit eight turnovers.

Yale returns to the court Saturday looking to give Gobrecht her 500th career coaching victory. To do so, the Bulldogs will need to win at Princeton for just the second time in the last 10 seasons and the first since a 56-54 win on Feb. 13, 2009.

Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity