Game Day Central: Special Olympics Night Helps Yale Kick of Harvard-Dartmouth Weekend

Allie Messimer. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Allie Messimer. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Game #17

Special Olympics Night

Yale Bulldogs (6-10, 1-1 Ivy League) vs. Harvard Crimson (10-6, 1-1 Ivy League)


Game #18

Yale Bulldogs (6-10, 1-1 Ivy League) vs. Dartmouth Big Green (3-13, 1-1 Ivy League)



Opening Tip

 Yale welcomes Harvard and Dartmouth to New Haven for the first back-to-back Ivy League weekend of the season beginning with Friday's game against the Crimson. Yale is seeking its fourth win in the last five meetings with Harvard. The game will be broadcast by CPTV Sports and will air on the network on Monday night. Yale will pay tribute to Special Olympics Connecticut with a special halftime ceremony and Unified Sports ® game. On Saturday, the Bulldogs will look to extend their winning streak over Dartmouth to seven straight victories. Yale is starting a four-game Ivy League homestand.  



Scouting Harvard

Harvard opened its season with wins in seven of its first nine games, but followed that with three straight losses. The Crimson appeared to recover from that losing streak with three consecutive wins, including a 22-point home win over Dartmouth to open its Ivy League slate. However, Dartmouth responded with a stunning 58-45 win in Hanover on Saturday to stop Harvard's winning ways. It was Harvard's first loss to Dartmouth since the 2009-10 season. Harvard is 5-6 in games played away from Lavietes Pavilion. The Crimson is averaging 68.7 points per game while allowing 65.8 points. The Crimson has scored at least 60 points in every game this season except for the loss at Dartmouth, and at least 70 points seven times, winning five of those games. Harvard is second in the Ivy League in scoring offense (68.7 ppg.) and leads the League in field goal percentage (44.8 percent) and 3-point field goal percentage (39.0 percent). Junior guard Christine Clark is leading Harvard in scoring (17.3 points per game), assists (49) and steals (22). Sophomore forward Temi Fagbenle is the team's leading rebounder with 7.0 rebounds per game.


Series History

In a series that dates back to the 1974-75 season, the Ivy League's two fiercest rivals have met 72 times prior to Friday's game. Harvard leads the all-time series by a 42-30 margin. Yale has won the last three of the last four meetings. However, prior to Yale's sweep of the 2010-11 season series, Harvard had won the previous four meetings, and 18 of the previous 22. In the last meeting between the two teams in New Haven, Harvard snapped Yale's three-game winning streak with a 71-51 win on Feb. 18, 2012. Yale is 5-9 against Harvard during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as Yale's head coach.


2011-12 Series

After sweeping the 2010-11 season series, Yale extended its good fortune over Harvard with a 68-63 win in Cambridge. The Bulldogs rallied from a 10-point first-half deficit to escape with the come-from-behind road win. Megan Vasquez scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Bulldogs. Janna Graf scored a game-high 16 points with eight rebounds. Christine Clark led Harvard with 16 points. In the rematch in New Haven, Clark scored nine of Harvard's first 22 points in a game-opening 22-7 run as the Crimson cruised to a 71-51 win. Yale rallied and closed the gap to 29-25 in the opening minute of the second half, but Harvard controlled the game the rest of the way. Clark led all scorers with 23 points. Graf led Yale with 15 points.


Counting on Clark

Junior guard Christine Clark is the Ivy League's leading scorer with an average of 17.3 points per game. On Jan. 2 against UMass, she became the 18th Crimson player to record 1,000 career points. She has scored in double figures in 15 of Harvard's 16 games, scoring eight points in the loss at Boston University. She has tallied at least 20 points five times this season, including each of the last three games, averaging 21.3 ppg. in the three games. She has started all 74 games for the Crimson over the last three years and has scored in double-digits 63 times and at least 20 points 11 times.


Double Trouble

Sophomore forward Temi Fagbenle may be a rookie, but she has shown a veteran presence in the Harvard lineup. After sitting out last season, Fagbenle earned a spot on Great Britain's Olympic team, averaging 4.8 ppg., 4.0 rpg. and 1.2 bpg. at power forward for Great Britain. This season, she is averaging 11.3 points and 7.0 rebounds, and has already won the Ivy League's Rookie of the Week honor six times and Player of the Week twice.



Scouting Dartmouth

Dartmouth opened its season with a convincing win at Bryant but followed that with 12 straight losses. The Big Green snapped that skid with a 57-55 win at UMass before it was upended at Harvard, 88-66, in the Ivy League opener. Dartmouth turned the tables on Harvard in the rematch in Hanover, holding the Crimson, second in the Ivy League in scoring, to just 45 points. Dartmouth is averaging just 52.9 points per game and is allowing 64.9 points. The -12.0 point scoring margin is the worst in the Ivy League. The Big Green's 34.5 percent shooting percentage ranks sixth in the Ivy League, while the 42.1 shooting percentage for its opponents is ranked seventh. The key for Dartmouth is the play of its defense. In all three of its wins, the Big Green has held opponents to less than 60 points, going 3-3 in those games. When opponents score at least 60 points, Dartmouth is 0-10. Another key for Dartmouth is its play under the basket. The Big Green have outrebounded nine opponents this season. Dartmouth's leading scorer is senior guard Faziah Steen, who is averaging 11.7 points per game. She also leads the team in steals (31) and assists (26). Tia Dawson is the team's leading rebounder (7.7 rpg.).  


Series History

Dartmouth and Yale will meet for the 71st time on Saturday in a series that dates back to Yale's first season as a varsity program in 1973-74. While Dartmouth leads the series 50-20, with a 9-7 edge in the last 16 meetings, Yale has won the last six games with season sweeps in the last three seasons. Dartmouth's last win over Yale came in a 61-51 decision in Hanover on March 6, 2009, completing the season sweep that year.  The Bulldogs are 7-7 against Dartmouth during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as head coach at Yale.


2011-12 Series

In the opening game of the series, Dartmouth controlled the pace of the game in the opening half, but Yale stormed out of the halftime break and started the second half with a 26-1 run that seized control of the game and led to an 89-65 victory over Dartmouth in Hanover on Jan. 29, 2012. Megan Vasquez scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Bulldogs. Janna Graf finished with 19 points, while three other Bulldogs also finished in double figures. Yale held Dartmouth to just one free throw through the first 9:31 of the second half, and the Big Green failed to score a single field goal until Tia Dawson's layup with 9:34 left. Dartmouth's leading scorer, Faziah Steen, scored 11 points in the opening 20 minutes, but the Bulldogs held her to just two points in the second half. In the rematch, Yale completed the sweep with a a 66-48 win over Dartmouth. Vasquez scored 14 of her game-high 22 points in the first half to lead Yale. It was her ninth 20-point outing of the season.


A Legend to Learn From

Yolanda Griffith, a women's basketball legend and likely a soon-to-be Hall of Famer, joined the Dartmouth women's basketball team last season as an assistant coach. Griffith, a seven-time WNBA All-Star and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, led the Sacramento Monarchs to the 2005 WNBA championship. She retired in 2009 as the WNBA's all-time leader in offensive rebounds with 1,049, and is now second behind Taj McWilliams-Franklin's 1,062 offensive rebounds. With 2,444 total rebounds, Griffith ranks sixth on the league's all-time list, eighth in career steals with 529 and 10th in career blocks with 323. Griffith was named to the WNBA's 10th Anniversary All-Decade Team. Griffith played professionally for 16 years on three continents and for five different leagues. Not only did she compete in the WNBA, but also the Euroleague, the American Basketball League (ABL), the Women's Chinese Basketball League and the Women's Korean Basketball League.






Celebrating History

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 444 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.


Special Olympics Tribute

Yale Women's Basketball welcomes Special Olympics Connecticut and the Unified Sports® athletes from local high schools to the John J. Lee Amphitheater for Friday's game against Harvard. During an awards ceremony at halftime, Yale Women's Basketball and Special Olympics Connecticut will honor three individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Special Olympics Connecticut. The ceremony will recognize athlete Alix Violano, of Hamden, and volunteers Nancy Hemingway, of Manchester, and the late Sue Armitage, formerly of Hamden. Following the ceremony, Special Olympics athletes will take the court during halftime to play an abbreviated basketball game. The athletes, from Wilby High School in Waterbury and Hillhouse High School in New Haven, participate in the Special Olympics' Unified Sports® program at their schools. Unified Sports® brings athletes with and without intellectual disabilities together to play sports, gain physical fitness and establish meaningful friendships. In addition, Unified Sports® inspires social change — acceptance, understanding and respect for people of all abilities, both on and off the playing field.


Yale on CPTV Sports

Friday's Ivy League rivalry game against Harvard is being broadcast by CPTV Sports, a non-profit channel owned by Connecticut Public Television, as part of a three-game women's basketball package that will also include the Feb. 9 game against Princeton and the March 1 game against Columbia. The Harvard game will air on tape delay on Monday at 7 p.m. The broadcast schedule for the Princeton and Columbia games will be announced at a later date. CPTV Sports is a local channel that airs statewide on Comcast cable channel 966, Cox 805, Cablevision 139, Charter 223, Metrocast 418, and Thames River 87. It's also available over-the-air digitally on channels 65.3 (New Haven area), 49.3 (Bridgeport), 24.3 (Hartford) and 53.3 (Norwich). Visit to get more info. Fans can also check out highlights on the CPTV Sports YouTube channel at


Halejian, Yale Dominate Brown Rematch

Sophomore guard Sarah Halejian recorded her first career double-double, with 21 points and 10 rebounds, both career-highs, to lead Yale to a 59-47 win over Brown at the Pizzitola Sports Center on Jan. 25. Halejian scored 15 of her points in the second half, and she finished with a 9-for-16 shooting effort and three steals to help the Bulldogs bounce back from the 68-67 home loss to Brown on Jan. 19. With the win, Yale improves to 6-10 overall, 1-1 in Ivy League play. Yale also improves to 5-1 in its last six games at Brown with the lone loss in that stretch coming on Jan. 15, 2010. In the second half, Yale scored six of the first eight points to push the lead to 32-22 at the 17:54 mark, but Brown responded with a 7-0 run over the next 1:36 to close the margin to just three points, 32-29, with 16:18 left. Leading 47-43 with 6:04 left, Yale put the game out of reach with a 10-0 run that pushed the lead to 57-43 with 4:14 left, with five of those points coming from Halejian. Brown could muster only four points the rest of the way. Yale held Brown to just 11 points over the final 12:52 of the game. The Bulldogs limited Lauren Clarke, Brown's leading scorer, to nine points overall, but more importantly, just two points in the second half.


Halejian Earns First Player of the Week Award

Thanks to her 21-point, 10-rebound performance in Yale's 59-47 win at Brown on Jan. 25, sophomore guard Sarah Halejian was named the Co-Player of the Week by the Ivy League. It is the first career Player of the Week honor for Halejian and seventh Ivy League weekly honor overall. She earned Rookie of the Week recognition six times last season, which tied a Yale record for Rookie of the Week awards by one player in a single season. Halejian's 21 points and 10 rebounds were both career-high marks for the reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year. It was the first 20-point performance of Halejian's young career and her first career double-double. In the victory, Halejian shot a stellar 9-for-16 (56.2 percent) from the floor. Halejian's nine made field goals and eight defensive rebounds were also career-high marks. She also matched a season-high with three steals. Halejian also drew the defensive assignment on Brown's leading scorer, Lauren Clarke, who was held to nine points overall, but more importantly, just two points in the second half. Halejian's previous career-highs were 18 points, also set at Brown last season (Jan. 13, 2012), and six rebounds (set at Columbia, Feb. 24, 2012).


Bulldog Trends

  • Yale's leading scorer, Sarah Halejian, has scored in double figures in 15 of Yale's 16 games. In her only single-digit game, she scored nine points against Sacred Heart. ... Halejian has averaged 16.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game in the last four games. ... She has made five or more field goals in the last four games and seven of the last nine games.
  • Freshman center Emmy Allen has averaged 3.8 rebounds over the last four games, including a personal-best 7 against Brown on Jan. 19.
  • Senior captain Allie Messimer has averaged 8.4 points over the last five games, raising her season from 4.0 ppg. to 5.4 ppg. ... She has made at least one 3-pointer in the last five games.
  • Senior guard Megan Vasquez has averaged 11.0 points and 5.5 rebounds over the last four games.
  • Yale's second-leading scorer and rebounder, Janna Graf, has averaged 13.5 ppg. in her last nine starts, scoring a season-high 18 points in three of those games.


Yale Athletics Pink Zones

Yale's game against Princeton on Saturday, Feb. 9 is the main event of Yale's two-day event that is now called "Yale Athletics Pink Zones." The annual fund-raiser, in conjunction with the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's "Play 4Kay" initiative, is dedicated to raising awareness and donations for breast cancer research, with Yale's proceeds once again being donated to the Smilow Cancer Hospital. Last year, Yale hosted the most successful Pink Zone weekend since Yale started participating five years ago. The festivities, which will take place throughout Payne Whitney Gymnasium, will once again include a "Battle of the Badges" competition featuring the Yale and New Haven police and fire departments. The women's and men's squash teams will compete against Ivy League rival Dartmouth on Friday, Feb. 8, and the women's and men's swimming and diving teams will host Brown on Feb. 9. Check for the full schedule.


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 her shot at the buzzer 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. 28, and Yale is ranked No. 18 among the nation's 343 Division I schools in 3-pointers made per game with 7.8 3-pointers per game. Yale is No. 40 in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (34.3 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 24.4 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.


Halejian, Gobrecht on "Inside Ivy League Basketball"

Sophomore guard Sarah Halejian was the latest Yale representative on the Ivy League's on-demand radio show. In her interview on Jan. 30, Halejian discussed her stellar performance at Brown and the Bulldogs' outlook for the remainder of the Ivy League season. Yale head coach Chris Gobrecht appeared on the show earlier in the season. In her interview, Gobrecht discussed Yale's improving play, 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 either interview, visit


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 at Brown on Jan. 25, Gobrecht now has 84 wins at Yale and is now 23 wins behind Cecelia DeMarco (107-127), Yale's all-time winningest head coach.


Scoring Points

  • Yale has scored at least 75 points five times this season and is 3-2 in those games, with wins over Houston (84-82), Bucknell (82-62) and Bryant (78-65) and losses at DePaul (95-80) and at Northwestern (83-75). Yale scored at least 75 points on seven occasions in 2011-12, all victories (vs. Holy Cross, at FDU, at Houston, vs. Baruch, at Brown, at Dartmouth, vs. Cornell). In 2010-11, Yale scored 75 points only three times, all in victories (vs. Florida State, vs. Harvard, at Harvard).
  • In the NCAA's Jan. 28 statistics update, Yale is ranked No. 18 among the nation's 343 Division I schools with 7.8 3-pointers made per game.
  • Yale is No. 40 in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (34.3 percent).
  • Yale's 3-point shooting defense is ranked No. 6 in the country. The Bulldogs are holding teams to just 24.4 percent.
  • Junior guard Janna Graf is No. 15 in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (42.5 percent) and No. 95 in 3-pointers made per game (2.13).
  • Graf is second in the Ivy League in 3-pointers made per game with 2.1 per game.
  • Yale leads the Ivy League in 3-pointers made per game (7.8) and defensive 3-point shooting percentage (24.4 percent).
  • Yale is second in the Ivy League in 3-point shooting percentage (34.3 percent).
  • Yale is third in the Ivy League in scoring (66.8 ppg.) and offensive rebounds (13.2 orpg.).
  • The Bulldogs are 3-4 at home this season and 3-6 on the road.


Next Up

Following this weekend, Yale will close up its four-game Ivy League homestand with a pair of games against Penn on Feb. 8 and Princeton on Feb. 9. Yale and Penn will meet for the 70th time in the history of the series that dates back to 1974-75. Yale leads the all-time series 36-34 with wins in seven of the last nine meetings. Yale and Princeton will meet for the 78th time in the series history that dates back to Yale's first season as a varsity program in 1973-74. The Tigers lead the series 47-30, winning the last seven meetings.


Follow the Bulldogs

Be sure to follow the Yale women's basketball team throughout the 2012-13 season on Twitter (@YaleWBBDawgz) and on Facebook ("Yale WBB").

Report filed by Jon Erickson, Jr., Yale Sports Publicity