Yale Bulldogs (3-6, 0-0 Ivy League) vs. Marist Red Foxes (4-5, 0-0 MAAC)
The Yale women's basketball team returns from its 12-day final exam break to host Marist. The Bulldogs won two straight games prior to the break and look to extend their winning ways against a Marist squad that has never won a game inside John J. Lee Amphitheater. The Bulldogs and Red Foxes have met four times prior to Thursday's game, with the home team winning all four games. Yale is coming off of wins against Fordham and St. Francis Brooklyn, thanks in large part to the play of junior guard Janna Graf, who averaged 16.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3.5 steals in the two wins.
Marist enters Thursday's game with a 4-5 overall record, but three of those wins came at home and the other came in the Paradise Jam over Wake Forest in the Virgin Islands. The magic number for the Red Foxes is 60. When they score 60 or more points, they are 3-0, but when they score fewer than 60 points, they are 1-5, with the lone win coming in a 56-45 win over Princeton. The Red Foxes have struggled to find their shooting stroke, shooting less than 39 percent in seven of their nine games, losing five of those games. The non-conference schedule has been extremely difficult for Marist. The Red Foxes have faced three teams that were ranked nationally, including No. 2 UConn, No. 12 Oklahoma and No. 14 Purdue. The schedule also included games against Princeton, Hartford, and Boston University, all teams that are ranked in the Mid-Major Top 25. Marist, currently ranked No. 8 in the Mid-Major poll, is 1-5 in those games, with the only win coming against Princeton. Marist was one of eight women's basketball teams to take part in the Paradise Jam Tournament in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, in November. The Red Foxes lost to No. 14 Purdue and No. 2 UConn before defeating Wake Forest in their final game of the tournament.
This will be the fifth overall meeting between Yale and Marist since the two teams began this rivalry in 1979. Both teams have won two games in the series, with the home team winning all four games. Both of Yale's wins happened inside Lee Amphitheater, including a 94-72 win on March 3, 1979, and a 67-52 win on Dec. 22, 2007. Marist owns the two most recent victories, however, including a 78-64 win over Yale in Poughkeepsie last season and a 77-62 win over the Bulldogs inside McCann Arena on Nov. 29, 2007.
Last Time vs. Yale
Corielle Yarde recorded 24 points and nine rebounds to lead Marist to a 78-64 win over Yale on Nov. 18, 2011, in Poughkeepsie. It was Yale's first loss of the 2011-12 season after opening with a 2-0 record. Junior guard Megan Vasquez scored a team-high 21 points to lead the Bulldogs in the loss. Freshman center Arrice Bryant added 10 points and nine rebounds.
Back in Action
Like Yale, Marist is playing in its first game in 12 days after halting play for final exams. The Red Foxes have lost their last two games, including a loss at No. 12 Oklahoma and a home loss to Boston University. The Terriers outfoxed the Red Foxes in overtime, 62-56, in the last game before the exam break on Dec. 8.
Control of the Ivy
Since 1981-82, its first season as a Division I program, Marist is 26-23 overall against Ivy League opponents. Most recently, however, Marist's dominance over the Ivy League is even more impressive. In the last five seasons, the Red Foxes are 7-1 against the Ivy League, including a 56-45 home win over Princeton on Nov. 17. The only loss against an Ivy League team in the last five seasons came at Princeton last season, 68-51, on Nov. 21, 2011.
Junior guard Casey Dulin is the lone player on Marist's roster from Connecticut. The former Jonathan Law star is the female all-time leading scorer in the town of Milford, which factors in all four of the town's high school basketball teams (Foran, Jonathan Law, Platt Tech and Lauralton Hall) with 1,639 points. She averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists as a senior at Law and was a four-time All-Area and All-Southern Connecticut Conference selection in volleyball and basketball.
The 2012-13 season marks the 40th season of women's basketball at Yale University. In 1972-73, women's basketball appeared on the Yale scene as a club sport and became a varsity sport the following year. The Bulldogs made an impressive Ivy debut, finishing second in the League in 1974-75. In 1976, Louise O'Neal was hired as the first full-time women's basketball coach and Yale won its first Ivy League championship in 1978-79. The Bulldogs have won 441 games since their debut. A total of nine men and women have coached women's basketball at Yale, and there have been 35 women who have been named captain in those 40 seasons. In its 40 seasons, the women's basketball team has seen one player win Ivy League Player of the Year award (Tonya Lawrence, 1988-89), four Ivy League Rookies of the Year (Sarah Halejian, 2011-12; Melissa Colborne, 2006-07; Katy Grubbs, 1995-96; Mary Kalich, 1991-92), 18 players on the All-Ivy League First Team, and 17 players score more than 1,000 career points. Throughout the season, Yale will be celebrating the program's historic achievement.
Yale Owns OT
Sarah Halejian scored a team-high 17 points, including four of Yale's six points in overtime, to lead the Bulldogs to a 66-62 overtime win at St. Francis Brooklyn on Dec. 8. It was just the third overtime game for Yale in the eight seasons under head coach Chris Gobrecht. The only other overtime games coached by Gobrecht were a 70-66 double-overtime win at Dartmouth on Feb. 13, 2010, and a 77-73 overtime win over visiting Quinnipiac on Dec. 21, 2008. Yale is 6-0 in overtime games since the 2003-04 season. Halejian was the key to the win as 14 of her 17 points came after halftime. Janna Graf had 15 points and seven rebounds. The win was Yale's first on the road this season.
Third Career Award for Graf
For the third time in her Yale career, junior guard Janna Graf was named the Ivy League Player of the Week on Dec. 10, following wins over Fordham and St. Francis Brooklyn. Graf earned the award after averaging 16.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3.5 steals in the pair of wins. On Dec. 4, Graf tallied 18 points, six rebounds and five of Yale's six steals to lift the Bulldogs to a 67-53 win over Fordham. At St. Francis Brooklyn on Dec. 8, Graf closed out her week with 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals in helping to lead Yale to a 66-62 overtime victory. Graf set a new career-high with five steals against Fordham. She also matched a career-high with five made free throws in a perfect 5-for-5 showing at the foul line against Fordham. Graf has picked up her defensive play of late. She has 11 steals and 15 defensive rebounds in her last three games, an average of 5.0 rebounds and 3.7 steals per game in that span.
From Way Downtown
Yale's 3-point shooting prowess is among the best in the nation, according to the NCAA. The NCAA released its latest statistical rankings on Dec. 17, and Yale is ranked No. 3 among the nation's 343 Division I schools in 3-pointers made per game with 8.9 3-pointers per game. Yale is No. 9 in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (39.0 percent). On the defensive end, Yale's 3-point shooting defense is ranked 28th in the country. The Bulldogs are holding teams to just 23.7 percent.
Janna Graf picked a great time to play her best game of the season to date. The junior guard set a new season-high with 18 points on 5-of-7 shooting to lead Yale to a 67-53 win over Fordham on Dec. 4. Graf also had six rebounds and five steals. It was Yale's first win over Fordham since a 92-74 win in New Haven on Dec. 9, 1986. Fordham had won the previous six meetings with Yale. The Bulldogs dominated for the final 26:44 of the game. Yale outscored Fordham 17-8 over the final 6:44 of the first half to take a 31-29 halftime lead, with nine of those points coming from Graf. It was the first halftime lead of the season for the Bulldogs. Yale then used a 17-5 run late in the second half to open up an 18-point lead (65-47) to put the game out of reach. Yale shot 25-for-50 from the floor (50.0 percent), 7-for-14 from behind the arc (50.0 percent) and 10-for-11 from the foul line. Fordham held a 37-32 advantage on the boards but only shot 33.9 percent (21-for-62) and just 8-of-27 in the second half (29.6 percent). It was just the second time this season that Yale shot a higher percentage than its opponent.
Gobrecht Climbing the Yale Ranks
Yale's 67-53 win over Fordham on Tuesday improved the Bulldogs' overall record to 2-4 on the season, but the victory also gave Chris Gobrecht her 80th victory as Yale's head coach, moving her into sole possession of second place on Yale's all-time coaching victories list. She moves past Diann Nestel (79-78) and after the win at St. Francis on Dec. 8, Gobrecht is now 26 wins behind Cecelia DeMarco (107-127), Yale's all-time winningest head coach.
Gobrecht on "Inside Ivy League Basketball"
Yale head coach Chris Gobrecht was the latest Yale representative on the Ivy League's on-demand radio shot. In her interview, Gobrecht discussed Yale's improving play of late, the importance of Yale's four freshmen to the team's success in 2012-13, and the current state of the Ivy League. To hear the interview, visit blogtalkradio.com/insideivyleaguebasketball.
Yale rallied to its first win of the season, an 84-82 victory over Houston in New Haven on Nov. 17. Trailing 17-6 after a slow start, the Bulldogs recovered in time to pull within two points, 37-35, at halftime. The Bulldogs dominated the start of the second half, jumping out to a 48-41 lead after opening the period with a 13-4 run that was fueled by an eight-point burst by Sarah Halejian, who finished with 17 points. Trailing 68-61 with 8:59 left, Houston regained control of the game with a 12-0 run to take a 73-68 lead with 5:55 left. The Bulldogs responded and reclaimed control of the game with a 12-0 run of their own to take an 80-73 lead with 2:31 left in the game. Houston closed the game with a 9-4 run and had a chance to win at the buzzer, but Marissa Ashton's desperation shot hit the rim and bounced away, giving Yale its first win of the 2012-13 season.
Keita's Career Night
Zenab Keita, the Bulldogs' junior center, recorded her first career double-double with career-highs in points (18) and rebounds (11) to lead Yale to an 84-82 win over Houston Saturday night. En route to the double-double, Keita set career-bests in field goals made (6) and attempted (12) and she was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line. Her eight defensive rebounds and four assists were also a career-high, while her three blocks matched a career-high.
Following Thursday's game, Yale will take another break, this time for the Christmas holiday, returning to action on Dec. 28 at Big East power Georgetown in Washington, D.C. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. It will be the first meeting between the two teams since Yale earned a 67-62 win on Dec. 5, 1982, in a tournament at Fairfield. It is the fifth-ever meeting between the two teams, with Georgetown holding a 3-1 advantage. All three Hoya wins came between 1980 and 1982.
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Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity