Yale Closes Non-League Slate with Convincing Win at Bryant
SMITHFIELD, R.I. — The Yale University women's basketball team have the momentum it was hoping for heading into Ivy League play, thanks in large part to the play of junior guard Amanda Tyson.
Tyson scored a career-high 16 points to go with three steals and three rebounds to lead Yale to a 78-65 win over Bryant at the Chace Athletic Center in the final non-league game of the 2012-13 season.
Four Yale players scored in double figures in the victory. Sophomore guard Sarah Halejian scored 15 points and tallied five assists and three steals. Senior Megan Vasquez, making her first start of the season, recorded 12 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two blocks, while junior guard Janna Graf had 12 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
"Amanda played really well," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "Janna also played well and Sarah was very good in the first half. I thought she was taking a lot of physical contact. It was a very physical game and we probably could have handled it a little better. It was very physical and that makes it tough on Sarah, but I thought that she did some really good things for us. Those three carried us offensively, but we have to get better post play."
Naana Ankoma-Mensa led all scorers with 22 points and 13 rebounds, her eighth double-double effort of the season. Tiersa Winder scored 13 points off the bench, while adding five rebounds of her own. Branford, Conn., native Courtney Schissler added nine points and seven rebounds.
Halejian scored 12 of her 15 points in the opening half, helping Yale to a 31-19 halftime lead. Yale improves to 4-0 when leading at halftime and 4-0 when shooting a better percentage from the floor than the opposing team.
Yale was paced in the early going by Halejian, who scored the first five points of the game, and back-to-back 3-pointers from junior center Zenab Keita that put Yale on top 11-4 at the first media timeout.
By the time the game reached the second official break, Yale was on top 19-8 thanks to 7-for-14 shooting from the field and seven Bryant turnovers. Bryant responded with a short 7-2 run to cut Yale's lead to 21-15, but Yale outscored Bryant 10-4 in the closing minutes of the half to go into the break with a 31-19 lead.
The second half was a much tighter affair, but it didn't start out that way. Yale led 39-31 with 15:42 left in the half, but used a 16-4 run to push that lead to 20 points at the 10:58 mark. Tyson scored six of her points in the run and Graf added five more to help Yale pull ahead 55-35.
Bryant did not go down without a fight in the final 10 minutes, using a tough full-court press to trim Yale's lead down to 12, thanks to a 13-5 run that cut the score to 64-52 with 4:56 to play. However, Bryant couldn't complete the comeback in the closing minutes, as Yale never let its lead fall into single digits the rest of the way.
Yale forced 25 Bryant turnovers, but committed 22 of their own. Bryant outrebounded Yale 51-38, including 24-14 on the offensive glass, and outscored Yale 44-32 in the paint. Overall, picking up a road victory to close out non-league play is important, but there is plenty of work still to do to be ready for Ivy League play.
"I thought that we did some good things tonight," Gobrecht said. "We are a good offensive team. We know that when we work hard and work together, we are going to get some good scorers. Obviously I am concerned about the boards that we gave up. I am concerned that we did not do a very good job down the stretch, What we know after this is that it is nice to get the win, but we need to be better in Ivy League play."
Despite a 1-6 start to the season, Yale enters Ivy League play with four wins in its last seven games and appears to be ready for the start of the 14-game tournament that is the Ivy League season. However, Yale ends the non-league portion of the schedule with a feeling that the 5-9 record could be better heading into league play.
"There are certainly games that we would like to have back," Gobrecht said. "However, what I think is important is have we developed the toughness and have we developed the discipline that it takes to succeed in the Ivy League? It is a tough grind and it really takes tough kids. We have worked hard at understanding that. I do feel that we have made progress, but it doesn't matter if we are ready because (the Ivy League season) is here. Here we go."
Yale returns to action on Saturday, when it will open the Ivy League season against Brown inside the friendly confines of John J. Lee Amphitheater at 4 p.m.
Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity