Gobrecht One Win Away from 500; Vasquez 20 Points Away from 1,000
The Yale women's basketball team (12-8, 4-2 Ivy League) returns home after opening the Ivy League season with five of its first six games on the road. The Bulldogs will take on Cornell and Columbia with two milestones within reach this weekend. Yale head coach Chris Gobrecht is just one win away from her 500th career coaching victory, while junior guard Megan Vasquez is 20 points away from reaching 1,000 career points. Saturday's game against Columbia is the centerpiece of this year's Pink Zones event, the annual breast cancer awareness fundraising event hosted by Yale Athletics inside Payne Whitney Gymnasium.
On The Road To 500
Yale head coach Chris Gobrecht currently holds a 499-424 career coaching record following last weekend's split at Penn (W) and Princeton (L). With her next win, Gobrecht will become the fourth coach this season to reach 500 career coaching victories. She currently ranks 22nd among active coaches for Division I coaching wins. At the start of the season, six coaches were on the verge of their 500th career win. Holy Cross coach Bill Gibbons became the first of the six to reach 500 wins on Dec. 3. DePaul head coach Doug Bruno (12/31) and Kennesaw State head coach Colby Tilly (1/7) have also joined the 500-win club this season. Here is the list of those coaches, with their win totals updated through games played on Feb. 2:
Coach, School (Total Wins)
Milestone Watch for Vasquez
Junior guard Megan Vasquez has now scored 980 career points. She needs just 20 points to reach 1,000 career points. She has now had six 20-point outings this season, reaching a season-high 23 points three times. She scored 20 or more points five times previously in her career, all coming last season. Vasquez scored 322 points in her freshman season and 366 points last season. She could reach the 1,000-point milestone as early as Friday if she approaches her season-high against Cornell. 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-per season pace, she would finish in sixth place on Yale's all-time list with 1,376 career points.
Yale Athletics Pink Zones
Yale's game against Columbia on Saturday, Feb. 11 is the main event of Yale's two-day event that is now called "Yale Athletics Pink Zones." The annual fundraiser, in conjunction with the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's "Play 4Kay" initiative, is dedicated to raising awareness and donations for breast cancer research, with Yale's proceeds once again being donated to the Smilow Cancer Hospital. Last year, Yale hosted the most successful Pink Zone weekend since Yale started participating five years ago. The festivities, which will take place throughout Payne Whitney Gymnasium, will once again include a "Battle of the Badges" competition featuring the Yale and New Haven police and fire departments. The Yale gymnastics team will host the Bulldog Invitational, while the women's and men's squash teams will compete against Ivy League rival Harvard on Sunday, Feb. 12. Check YaleBulldogs.com for the full schedule.
Cornell has already surpassed last season's overall win total and has matched last season's Ivy League win total with nine games remaining on its schedule. The Big Red (9-10, 3-2) are looking to break the .500 mark with a pair of wins this weekend. Cornell's games at Yale and Brown this weekend represent the end of a stretch of 10 out of the last 13 games on the road that has kept the Big Red away from Ithaca for nearly two months. Cornell has won four of its last five games behind the play of its defense, which held three of those opponents to 45 points or less. The Big Red are on of the most accurate shooting teams in the Ivy League (3rd, 39.2 percent), and it leads the league in assists (13.8 apg.), just ahead of Yale (13.7 apg.). Cornell is coming off of a 49-45 home win over Dartmouth in which sophomore Allyson DiMagno recorded her third double-double of the season (16 points, 13 rebounds) and the team's defense had 14 steals and forced a season-high 29 turnovers. DiMagno and junior Clare Fitzpatrick lead the team in scoring with 10.7 ppg. apiece.
In a series that dates back to 1974-75, the two teams will meet for the 66th time on Friday. Yale leads the all-time series by a 43-22 margin, including wins in the last four meetings. The Big Red own a 13-9 advantage in the series since 2000, which includes seven straight wins from the 2000-01 season to the first meeting of the 2003-04 season. Yale is an even 6-6 against Cornell during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as head coach.
Yale found inspiration in its first meeting with Cornell in the return of senior captain Yoyo Greenfield, who returned after a 13-game absence due to a concussion. Although she only played five minutes, her return gave the Bulldogs the emotional boost they needed in a 57-49 win in Ithaca. Megan Vasquez scored 11 of her 14 points in the second half, while Mady Gobrecht scored a game-high 18 points, 10 in the second half, and grabbed six rebounds in the victory. The rematch came in the final game of the regular season, with Yale completing the season sweep on Senior Night with a 58-51 win. Yale secured a second-place finish in the Ivy League with the win, as well as the first-ever WNIT appearance in the program's history. Yale trailed by as many as seven points in the second half, but it ended the game with a 10-2 run to secure the victory and the WNIT bid.
Junior Clare Fitzpatrick has already begun securing her place in Cornell's record books. Earlier this season, she became the 26th player in Cornell history to record at least 600 points and 300 rebounds. Since then, she has moved into the 700/400 club with 759 points and 416 rebounds. She has been a rock for the Big Red since she joined the lineup in 2009-10. She has started 60 straight games, dating back to Jan. 29, 2010, which is the longest current active streak on the team, with sophomore Allyson DiMagno's 42 straight starts ranking second.
Columbia's season suffered its first loss before the team ever took to the court when sophomore Brianna Orlich, the team's leading scorer last season, announced that she was ending her playing career early due to a knee injury. It has been all downhill from there. The Lions (2-15, 0-5 Ivy League) have had three separate losing streaks of at least five losses, including the current skid of seven consecutive losses. The team's performance this season has not been completely unexpected. Counting the loss of Orlich, Columbia is playing without its top three scorers from last season. With nine freshmen and sophomores, the newcomers have had to step up a little sooner than expected. Six of the top 10 scorers on the roster are either freshmen or sophomores. The Lions are at or near the bottom of every statistical category in the Ivy League except for offensive rebounds. Columbia is second in the league with 13.4 offensive rebounds per game.
Yale holds a 38-16 edge in a series that dates back to 1975-76 and includes four wins over Barnard College from 1975-1980. Yale and Columbia did not start competing until the Lions' jump to Division I at the start of the 1986-87 season, and Yale owns a 34-16 advantage beginning with that season. Since 1999-2000, Yale is 4-8 in games at Columbia and 8-4 in games at home. Yale lost both games to the Lions last season. The Bulldogs are 4-8 against the Lions during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as head coach at Yale.
Columbia nearly derailed Yale's postseason hopes last season when it swept the season series from the Bulldogs. Yale swept every Ivy League team except Princeton and Columbia in 2010-11. Those two teams accounted for Yale's four league losses. In the opening game of the series in Manhattan, four Columbia players scored in double figures to lead the Lions to a 67-57 win over Yale on Feb. 5, 2011. Melissa Shafer came off the bench to score 14 points to lead the Lions, who improved to 5-15 with the win. Brianna Orlich led the starters with 13 points and four assists. Megan Vasquez led Yale with 17 points and four steals. In the final weekend of the season, Columbia held Yale to just 42 points and ended the Bulldogs' Ivy League title hopes with a 48-42 win. It was Columbia's first road win of the season. Orlich scored 11 points to lead the Lions, who closed the game with a 12-2 run to erase a four-point deficit and secure the win.
Young Stars Shine Bright
Columbia has had three different Ivy League Rookies of the Week this season. Amara Mbionwu was the first to earn the honor for the week of Nov. 13, averaging 6.5 points and a team-high 8.5 rebounds in two games for the Lions. The next week, Miwa Tachibana took the honor, as she led the Lions in scoring against Wagner. Tachibana was 4-for-7, scoring 11 points. Last month, Caitlyn Unsworth became Columbia's third Rookie of the Week, scoring 18 points in two games for the Lions.
"Inside Ivy League Basketball"
Junior guard Megan Vasquez was the latest Bulldog to appear on the Ivy League's on-demand radio show. In the Week 7 episode, she talked about Yale's pursuit of an Ivy League title, as well as her individual success in her first three seasons in a Yale uniform. "Inside Ivy League Basketball" has already featured an interview with Yale coach Chris Gobrecht. The Week 5 episode can still be found on the show's website. To hear the interview, visit blogtalkradio.com/insideivyleaguebasketball.
For the sixth straight time, Yale met Penn and Princeton on the same weekend and came away with a win over the Quakers and a loss to the Tigers. Yale has come away with a split in the last 10 Penn-Princeton weeeknds, dating back to the final weekend of the 2006-07 season. Yale has not swept a Penn-Princeton weekend since Feb. 22-23, 2002, when it defeated both teams at home. At Penn on Feb. 3, Yale trailed 27-25 at halftime only to rally in the second half to take a 72-60 win at the Palestra. The win gave Yale head coach Chris Gobrecht her 499th career coaching victory. Megan Vasquez scored 17 of her game-high 19 points to fuel the second-half rally. All six Bulldogs who scored had at least seven points. At Princeton on Feb. 4, Yale had a chance to move into first place in the Ivy League standings, but Princeton's dominating effort prevented that in a 72-47 defeat.
Introducing the Class of 2016
Four players will join the Bulldogs' roster as incoming freshman for the 2012-13 season. On Wednesday, Jan. 18, the Bulldogs announced the additions of guards Whitney Wyckoff and Nyasha Sarju, forward Meredith Boardman, and center Elizabeth "Emmy" Allen, who will all join the Bulldogs' roster as freshmen this fall. Allen is a 6-foot-3 center from Overland Park, Kan., who is rated as the 27th top post player in the country by ESPN. Boardman, a 6-foot-1 forward from Oak Park, Ill., who was listed among the Chicago area's top 50 players by both the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. Sarju, a 6-foot-tall shooting guard from Seattle, Wash., who was listed as the 56th best wing player in the country by ESPN. Wyckoff, a 5-foot-9 guard from West Chester, Ohio, was averaging 12.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.3 steals, 2.3 assists and 2.0 blocks per game through the first four games of the season at Lakota East high School before suffering a season-ending knee injury. She is expected to return to the court before her arrival at Yale. She was listed as the 77th-ranked off-guard in the country by the College Girls Basketball Report. Wyckoff's sister, Brooke, played nine seasons in the WNBA with the Connecticut Sun, Chicago Sky and Orlando Miracle and is currently an assistant coach at Florida State.
Sweeping the Awards
Thanks to its road sweep of Harvard and Dartmouth, Yale also earned a sweep of the Ivy League's weekly awards. Yale's sophomore guard Janna Graf was named the Ivy League Player of the Week and freshman guard Sarah Halejian was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week. Junior guard Megan Vasquez earned a place on the Ivy League's weekly Honor Roll. Graf, a guard who has played out of her natural wing position all season to handle the power forward duties, averaged 17.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.0 assist in the two wins. It is the first time this season and second time in her career that Graf has earned the Ivy League's Player of the Week honor. For Halejian, she wins her fourth straight Rookie of the Week honor, becoming the first player since Princeton's Niveen Rasheed accomplished the feat from Nov. 16-Dec. 7, 2009. Halejian has won the Rookie of the Week award five times so far this season, which leaves her one shy of Yale's record of six Rookie of the Week awards held by Katy Grubbs (1995-96) and Melissa Colborne (2006-07). Both former Bulldogs went on to win the Ivy League's Rookie of the Year that season.
Yale on YES
The YES Network, the broadcast home of the 27-time World Series Champion New York Yankees, will feature Yale's men's and women's basketball teams in a two-game, winter television package. The Yale women's basketball team tips off the Yale on YES package with its Ivy League contest against Dartmouth at the John J. Lee Amphitheater on Friday, Feb. 17. The Yale men's basketball team will close out the package with its home game against Columbia on Friday, Feb, 24. Both games will air live on YES beginning at 7 p.m.
Breaking Out the Broom
For the second straight season, Yale pulled off a weekend sweep of Harvard and Dartmouth on the road. The Bulldogs began the weekend with a come-from-behind win at Harvard. Trailing 29-24 at halftime, Yale used a 12-0 run to start the second half to seize control. Janna Graf led the Bulldogs with 16 points and eight rebounds. Megan Vasquez scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half to lead the late charge. Yale had to pull off another second-half rally to complete the sweep. Trailing 43-41 at halftime at Dartmouth, Yale stormed out of the break with a dominating 26-1 run that led to an 89-65 win over the Big Green. Vasquez scored a game-high 23 points to match her season-high and lead the Bulldogs. Graf scored 19 points, while Aarica West poured in a career-high 12 points. Yale's defense held Dartmouth to just a single free throw through the first 9:31 of the second half.
Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity