Yale Bulldogs (5-10, 0-1 Ivy League) at Brown Bears (7-8, 1-0 Ivy League)
As Yale prepares for its annual visit to Brown to close out the season series, it is still looking for its first Ivy League victory after the Bears escaped New Haven with a 68-67 win on Saturday, Jan. 19. It was Brown's first victory this season in which it gave up more than 51 points. Counting last year's meeting at Yale, Brown now has two straight wins over Yale. The Bears had the second best defense in the Ivy League, but they dropped below Princeton and Penn after facing Yale. The Bears are now allowing an average of just 58.5 points per game. Sophomore guard Sarah Halejian continues to lead the Bulldogs in scoring (13.5 points per game) and assists (3.3 assists per game), while junior guard Janna Graf is second on the team in scoring (12.1 ppg.) and rebounding (4.9 rpg.).
Brown started its season with just two wins in its first seven games, but appears to have found its way with five wins in its last eight games, including last week's 68-67 win at Yale. The Bears own wins over common opponents New Hampshire (50-43) and Army (48-45). Brown dropped losses at Lafayette (56-32) and Holy Cross (83-66) before closing out non-league play with a buzzer-beating 53-51 win over NJIT on Jan. 15. The Bears lost senior starting guard Lindsay Nickel for the season to an ACL tear in her left knee in the loss at Holy Cross on Jan. 8. Brown is averaging just 53.3 points per game, scoring more than 58 points just three times. However, the key to Brown's success is the play of its defense, which has held opponents to just 58.5 points per game. Brown is also second in the league in Field Goal Defense (36.1 percent) and 3-Point Field Goal Defense (25.7 percent). However, Brown's win over Yale was just its first of the season in which it allowed more than 51 points. Brown is led by Lauren Clarke, who is averaging a team-high 14.2 points per game. Sheila Dixon is second on the team in scoring (12.4 ppg.) and the team leader in rebounding (5.2 rpg.).
The series with Brown dates back to Yale's first season as a varsity program in 1973-74. This is the 76th meeting in the all-time series between Brown and Yale. Brown leads the series 43-32. Following last week's win at Yale, Brown has now won the last two meetings. Prior to that, Yale had held the upper hand, winning four in a row. However, the last time Yale paid a visit to Brown, it left Providence with a 75-65 victory in the opening game of the series last season. Yale owns the last sweep in the series after taking both meetings in the 2010-11 season. Yale is now 8-7 over Brown during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as head coach.
During non-league play, Yale was 0-5 when trailing at halftime, but that trend failed to hold true in the Ivy League opener when Yale trailed 32-31 at the half but outscored Brown 44-33 in the second half to pull away with a 75-65 win on Jan. 13, 2012. Yale used a game-high 23 points from Megan Vasquez and career nights from Sarah Halejian and Amanda Tyson to pull out the win. Halejian scored a career-high 18 points in the victory, while Tyson came off the bench to record 10 of her 12 points and seven of her game-high eight rebounds in the second half to help lift Yale. Sheila Dixon scored 20 points in the loss. In the rematch on Jan. 20, Lauren Clarke scored a game-high 15 points to lead Brown to a 60-55 win at Yale. It was Brown's first win at Yale since Jan. 16, 2009. Vasquez scored 14 points for Yale in the loss.
There are two connections to the Nutmeg State on the Brown roster. Sophomore guard Katie Mahoney, from Colchester, graduated from Bacon Academy as the all-time scoring leader with 1,746 points. Brown assistant coach Jonathan Parsons, now in his fourth year with the Bears, also has strong ties to Connecticut. The 2008 graduate of Sacred Heart was a four-year student manager for the men's basketball team. He then served as a volunteer assistant coach at the University of New Haven for a year prior to joining the staff at Brown. He also was an assistant coach for the Connecticut Breeze U-16 AAU program.
Junior guard Lauren Clarke, Brown's leading scorer with 14.2 points per game, has scored in double figures in 13 of Brown's 15 games this season, including a season-high 20 points in four of Brown's games of the season. She has recorded at least two 3-pointers in all but three games, including a 1-for-7 effort at Yale.
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 Drops Ivy Opener
Lauren Clarke matched her career-high with 20 points, 16 coming in the second half, as Brown rallied from a 28-23 halftime deficit to sneak past Yale, 68-67, in the opening game of the Ivy League season for both teams. After it saw a seven-point second-half lead turn to a seven-point deficit with 2:26 remaining, Yale rallied with an 11-4 run to tie the game on an Amanda Tyson jump shot with eight seconds left. But in the ensuing race up the court, Megan Vasquez fouled Brown's Sheila Dixon with five seconds left. Dixon sank the second of her two free throws to break the tie and secure the win. Vasquez had a shot to win the game, but she lost control of the ball just behind the 3-point line. By the time she regained control, she was forced to throw up a shot at the buzzer that hit the rim but failed to fall through the hoop, giving Brown its second straight win at Yale. Sarah Halejian scored 10 of her team-high 14 points in the second half to lead the Bulldogs. Allie Messimer scored 12 points, while Janna Graf added 10 points. Vasquez just missed out on her second career double-double. She finished with nine points and a season-high nine rebounds to go with five assists.
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 Jan. 21, and Yale is ranked No. 11 among the nation's 343 Division I schools in 3-pointers made per game with 8.1 3-pointers per game. Yale is No. 28 in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (35.3 percent). On the defensive end, Yale's 3-point shooting defense was ranked No. 6 in the country. The Bulldogs are holding teams to just 24.3 percent.
Quest for Ivy Glory Begins
The quest for the Ivy League championship is now under way as Princeton and Harvard dominated in their respective Ivy League openers on Jan. 12 to tip off the double round-robin schedule. As the only Division I conference without a postseason tournament, the Ivy League's 14-game conference slate becomes the "tournament" to determine which Ivy team wins the title and earns an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament. The team that finishes the season in second place earns the Ivy League's automatic bid to the Women's National Invitational Tournament. Yale earned its first-ever WNIT bid in 2011 after finishing a program-best 10-4 in league play. The Bulldogs begin Ivy League play at Brown on Friday. Princeton is the three-time defending Ivy League champion. Yale is pursuing its first Ivy League championship since the 1978-79 season, when the league champion was determined in a mid-season tournament
Yale Takes Battle of the Bulldogs
Yale met Bryant for the first time since the 2009-10 season and returned from the Smithfield, R.I., campus with a 78-65 win to finish the non-league portion of the schedule with a 5-9 record. Amanda Tyson led Yale with a career-high 16 points in the win. Sarah Halejian scored 15 points and tallied five assists and three steals. Megan Vasquez, making her first start of the season, recorded 12 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, while Janna Graf had 12 points and five rebounds. Naana Ankoma-Mensa led all scorers with 22 points and 13 rebound. Halejian scored 12 of her 15 points in the first half, helping Yale to a 31-19 halftime lead. Yale improved to 4-0 when leading at halftime and 4-0 when shooting a better percentage from the floor than the opposing team.
A Grand Win over the Bison
In the 1,000th game in Yale's 40-year history, Yale cruised to an 82-62 win over Bucknell on Jan. 5. It was Yale's fourth straight win over Bucknell. The Bulldogs forced 26 Bucknell turnovers and used those miscues to score 36 points on the offensive end. Four players scored in double figures, led by Megan Vasquez, who scored 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Sarah Halejian scored 15 points, while Janna Graf and Zenab Keita each added 14 points. Yale shot 31-for-61 (50.8 percent), which was its best shooting performance of the season.
Gobrecht Climbing the Yale Ranks
Yale's 67-53 win over Fordham on Dec. 4 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 past Diann Nestel (79-78) and into sole possession of second place on Yale's all-time coaching victories list. After the win over Bucknell on Jan. 5, Gobrecht now has 82 wins and is now 25 wins behind Cecelia DeMarco (107-127), Yale's all-time winningest head coach.
Following Friday's game, Yale will return home to host Harvard and Dartmouth in the first back-to-back weekend of the Ivy League season. Friday's game will be the 73rd meeting between Yale and Harvard, with the Crimson holding a 42-30 all-time series lead. Yale has won three of the last four games against Harvard, including a sweep of the Crimson in 2010-11. Dartmouth and Yale have met 70 times prior to this season, with the Big Green holding a 50-20 edge in the all-time series. Yale has won the last six games against Dartmouth.
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Report filed by Jon Erickson, Jr., Yale Sports Publicity