Graf Tallies 18 in Loss at Sacred Heart

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

Bulldogs Rally to Take Second-Half Lead, But Cannot Secure Victory 


FAIRFIELD, Conn. — The Yale University women's basketball team held a 55-52 lead with 7:22 left, but it could not hold on for the victory as Sacred Heart used a late 13-2 run to pull away with the 67-62 win at the William H. Pitt Center Wednesday night.

Junior guard Janna Graf scored 18 points to lead the Bulldogs (3-9), but she was the only Yale player to score in double figures. Sophomore guard Sarah Halejian was held to nine points. It was the first time this season that Halejian failed to score in double figures.

Senior captain Allie Messimer scored six of her nine points in the second half to help the Bulldogs rally from a nine-point deficit in the second half.

Gabrielle Washington scored 12 of her game-high 22 points in the first half to lead Sacred Heart (8-4). Morgan Merriman scored 17 points, while Kiley Evans added 11 points.

Yale trailed 47-38 at the 14:40 mark, but staged a stunning comeback that turned that deficit into a 55-52 lead just 6:18 later. The rally started with a 10-2 run that pulled the Bulldogs to within a point, 49-48, with 11:35 to play. Messimer scored five of her six second-half points in the run.

The teams traded points until junior center Zenab Keita scored on back-to-back layups to put Yale on top 55-52. It was Yale's only lead of the game.

Sacred Heart responded with a 13-2 run that turned Yale's 55-52 lead into a 65-57 deficit with 41 seconds left. The run allowed Sacred Heart to secure its 11th straight win over Yale.

Yale trailed by as many as 15 points (23-8) in the first half but closed the opening period with an 11-2 run to valiantly climb back into contention. What looked to be a potential blowout early on turned into a 37-32 deficit at the halftime break. Yale struggled to make shots in the opening half, shooting just 12-of-41 (29.3 percent).

Graf led the Bulldogs in the opening half, scoring 11 of her points on 4-of-8 shooting, and a near-perfect 3-of-4 from 3-point range. Halejian scored seven of her points in the first half, while freshman Whitney Wyckoff scored six first-half points to surpass her previous personal-best of five points set against Georgetown on Dec. 28.

Yale made its push at the end of the first half thanks to clutch 3-point shooting. The Bulldogs shot 7-for-18 (38.9 percent) in the first 20 minutes to pull back into contention. However, what was the key to Yale's success late in the first half turned out to be a big reason for its second-half slide. In the second half, Yale shot 3-for-12 (25.0 percent).

Sacred Heart was 10-for-12 from the free-throw line, including an 8-for-10 showing in the second half, which helped the Pioneers turn the game in their favor late. Yale only went to the foul line four times, shooting 2-for-4.

Yale outrebounded Sacred Heart 42-41 and turned the ball over only 13 times.

Yale returns home on Saturday to take on Bucknell at 4 p.m.

Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity