Bulldogs Looking to Rebound During Visit to Columbia, Cornell

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Janna Graf. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

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With two weekends remaining in the regular season, the race for second place in the Ivy League standings is a tight one with the second-place Yale women's basketball team (15-9, 7-3 Ivy League) visiting Columbia Friday and Cornell on Saturday. Yale and Harvard both have three League losses and Brown has four. The three teams are vying for second place and the Ivy League's automatic berth in the WNIT. Yale beat both Cornell and Columbia two weeks ago and is looking for its sixth straight win over Cornell.

Latham Nets Ivy Honor

Freshman guard Hayden Latham recorded back-to-back 10-point games in the win over Dartmouth and the loss to Harvard to earn her first Ivy League Rookie of the Week honor of the season on Feb. 20. After missing eight straight games with a concussion, Latham finally looked like her old self. Latham suffered the concussion after she took an elbow to the face during Yale's loss at Florida State on Dec. 28.

Vasquez Joins Yale's Elite

With her first free throw with 13:34 left in Yale's win over Cornell, junior guard Megan Vasquez recorded her 1,000th career point, becoming the 17th player in Yale's history to reach 1,000 career points. She scored a total of 25 points in Friday's game and added a career-high 28 points in Saturday's win over Columbia, She now has scored 1,065 points to move into 14th place on Yale's all-time scoring list. The last Bulldog to reach 1,000 points was Melissa Colborne, who closed out her career with 1,418 points, fifth on Yale's all-time list. Vasquez is on pace to break 400 points in a season for the first time in her career. She has now had eight 20-point outings this season and a total of 13 20-point performances in her career. Vasquez scored 322 points in her freshman season and 366 points last season. If Vasquez maintains her pace, she could pass Colborne move into the top five on Yale's all-time scoring list.

Gobrecht Joins 500 Club

Yale head coach Chris Gobrecht became the fourth coach this season to surpass 500 career victories with Yale's 86-73 win over Cornell on Feb. 10. Gobrecht now holds a 502-425 overall record, all at the Division I level. 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. Gobrecht has coached for five programs in her career. She went 84-92 at Cal-State Fullerton, 243-89 at Washington, where she is the Huskies' all-time winningest head coach, 5-22 in one season at Florida State, and 93-108 at Southern California, her alma mater. To date, Gobrecht is 77-114 in her seven seasons at Yale, which is the third most coaching victories in Yale's history. She needs two wins to pass Diann Nestel (79-78) and 30 wins to pass Cecelia DeMarco (107-127), Yale's all-time winningest head coach.

Scouting Columbia

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 (2-21, 0-9 Ivy League) have had three separate losing streaks of at least five losses, including the current skid of 11 consecutive losses. It is not the longest streak in the team's history, however. The Lions went 0-26 in 1994-95, and combined with the final nine games of the 1993-94 season, the longest losing streak in Columbia's history is 35 straight 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. The Lions are at or near the bottom of nearly every statistical category in the Ivy League.

Series History

Yale holds a 39-16 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 for the 1986-87 season, and Yale owns a 35-16 advantage beginning with that season. Since 1999-2000, Yale is 4-8 in games at Columbia and 9-4 in games at home. Yale lost both games to the Lions last season. Yale has not won at Columbia since a 66-59 win on Feb. 1, 2008. The Bulldogs are 5-8 against the Lions during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as head coach at Yale.

Yale Takes Round 1

Megan Vasquez set a new career-high mark with 28 points to help Yale rally past Columbia, 73-59, in New Haven on Feb. 11. Yale trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half only to close the game to just three points at halftime. Columbia managed to pull ahead 39-34 with 14:13 left in the game, but the Bulldogs flipped a switch and outscored Columbia 29-11 over the next 7:58 to take a 63-50 lead with 6:15 left. Allie Messimer (8) and Vasquez (11) combined to score 19 of Yale's 29 points in that game-changing rally. Columbia cut the deficit to nine points twice, but Yale closed the game with an 8-3 spurt to secure the win. The Bulldogs' offense came through in a much bigger way in the second half. In the first 20 minutes, Yale shot just 11-for-34 (32.4 percent), including 3-for-13 from 3-point range. But in the second half, the Bulldogs shot 17-for-32 (53.1 percent), including 6-for-12 from 3-point range.

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.

Scouting Cornell

Cornell has already surpassed last season's overall (6) and Ivy League (3) win totals with five games remaining on its schedule. The Big Red (10-13, 4-5) have lost four of their last six games, but they have won three of their last five games at home and are 5-5 overall at Newman Arena this season. The key to Cornell's success is the play of its defense, which has held opponents to less than 50 points in six games this season and an overall average of 59.6 points per game. The Big Red are one of the most accurate shooting teams in the Ivy League (3rd, 39.3 percent), second in 3-point accuracy (31.4 percent) and third in in assists (12.8 apg.). Cornell is coming off of a split with Penn and Princeton, that included a tight, 45-42 home win over Penn. Against Penn, Cornell put on a defensive clinic, limiting Penn to 22 percent shooting. The Big Red limited the Quakers to 14 first-half points on 6-for-34 shooting (17.7 percent), including an 0-for-12 effort from 3-point range. Sophomore Allyson DiMagno and junior Clare Fitzpatrick lead the team in scoring with 10.4 ppg. apiece.

Series History

In a series that dates back to 1974-75, the two teams will meet for the 67th time on Saturday. Yale leads the all-time series by a 44-22 margin, including wins in the last five meetings. The Big Red owns a 13-10 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 7-6 against Cornell during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as head coach.

Round 1 Makes History for Yale

Yale not only made history once in the Feb. 10 meeting with Cornell, it did so twice. Megan Vasquez became the 17th player in Yale's history to reach 1,000 career points in a 86-73 win over Cornell. It was the 500th career coaching victory for Yale head coach Chris Gobrecht. Vasquez scored a game-high 25 points to lead Yale, passing the 1,000-point mark with her first of two free throws with 13:34 remaining in the game. The 73 points by Cornell was the second-highest output for the Big Red this season, but the highest total in a losing effort. Yale shot 16-of-30 from 3-point range to take a 16-point lead into halftime, then held off a 48-point Cornell outburst in the second half to earn the win. Vazquez wasn't the only Bulldog to have a career night in the victory. Aarica West matched a career-high with 10 assists, including nine in the first half alone.

Fantastic Fitzpatrick

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 794 points and 438 rebounds. She has been a rock for the Big Red since she joined the lineup in 2009-10. She has started 64 straight games, dating back to Jan. 29, 2010, which is the longest current active streak on the team, with sophomore Allyson DiMagno's 46 straight starts ranking second.

Dartmouth-Harvard Split

Megan Vasquez scored 22 points, her third straight 20-point outing and ninth this season, to lead Yale to a 66-48 win over Dartmouth on Feb. 17. Vasquez scored 14 of her 22 points in the first half to lead the Bulldogs. Freshman Hayden Latham scored 10 straight Yale points, her only points of the game in a first-half spurt. Her last six points came as the result of her three steals on consecutive Dartmouth possessions. Yale led 38-16 at halftime, but had to hold off Dartmouth in the second half to secure the win. However, the Bulldogs could not complete the double season sweep after dropping a 71-51 defeat to Harvard. It was Yale's first loss to the Crimson since the 2009-10 season. Vasquez finished with 10 points, while Janna Graf scored 15 points to lead the Bulldogs. Latham added 10 points and three assists. Christine Clark tallied 23 points and seven rebounds to lead the Crimson.

Long-Distance Record

In the win over Cornell on Feb. 10, the key factor was Yale's long-distance shooting. The Bulldogs were 16-for-30 from 3-point range, a record-setting night for the Bulldogs. Yale's 16 3-pointers against Cornell tied the all-time Ivy League single-game record, previously set twice by Harvard, against Rhode Island on Jan. 12, 1993, and Vanderbilt on March 15, 1996. The Ivy League record for 3-point attempts is 40, set by Penn on Jan. 21, 2003, in a game against Harvard. However, the 30 3-point attempts by Yale against Cornell tied its own mark for the second-highest total in the Ivy League this season. Yale previously made 30 3-point attempts vs. Holy Cross on Nov. 11. Penn attempted 33 3-pointers vs. Brown on Feb. 4.

Scoring Points

  • With four games remaining in the season, Yale has already scored at least 75 points on seven occasions, all victories (vs. Holy Cross, at FDU, at Houston, vs. Baruch, at Brown, at Dartmouth, vs. Cornell). Last season, Yale surpassed 75 points only three times, all in winning fashion (vs. Florida State, vs. Harvard, at Harvard). The Bulldogs went 1-1 in 2009-10 when scoring more than 75 points, losing vs. N.C. A&T and winning at home vs. Columbia.
  • Yale ranks 21st in the nation in turnover margin (+4.96) and 39th in 3-pointers made per game (6.6).
  • Megan Vasquez ranks 13th in the nation in free-throw shooting percentage (87.8).
  • Yale is 7-3 in Ivy League play this season. It is the second straight season that Yale has started 6-2 in Ivy play. It is Yale's best Ivy League start since it went 5-1 to open Ivy play in 1988-89.
  • Yale finished its non-league schedule with an 8-6 record, closing the slate with a three-game winning streak. It is Yale's best non-league finish since the 1993-94 season when the Bulldogs finished 8-4.
  • Yale leads the Ivy League 3-point shooting percentage (32.2 percent), assists (14.3 per game), turnover margin (+4.96), assist-to-turnover ratio (0.9), and made 3-pointers per game (6.6).
  • Yale is second in the Ivy League in scoring, averaging 66.8 points per game. The Bulldogs are also second in the league in free-throw percentage (74.0 percent) and steals (9.9 per game).
  • The Bulldogs are 7-3 at home this season, 8-6 in games away from Yale.
  • The Bulldogs limited Penn to just 21-for-68 shooting. The 30.9 shooting percentage is the lowest by a Yale opponent this season.

Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity