Yale Bulldogs (7-13, 2-4 Ivy League) at Cornell Big Red (10-9, 2-3 Ivy League)
Following a four-game homestand, Yale hits the road for six of the final eight games of the regular season beginning with a road swing through New York with showdowns at Cornell and Columbia for the first meeting of the season against both teams. Yale is looking to rebound following last week's tough home losses to Princeton. On Friday, Yale will visit Ithaca, N.Y., aiming to extend its winning streak against Cornell to seven straight victories. Cornell has not beaten Yale since the 2008-09 season. On Saturday, Yale will visit Manhattan hoping to score its first win inside Levien Gymnasium since Feb. 1, 2008. This weekend, the Bulldogs will look to sophomore guard Sarah Halejian to continue her strong play. The former Ramapo High standout leads the Bulldogs in scoring (13.6 ppg.) and assists (2.9 apg.). Senior guard Megan Vasquez enters the game needing just two points to reach 1,300 career points and 38 points to pass Katy Grubbs (1,336 points) for seventh place on Yale's all-time scoring list.
Cornell currently sits in fifth place in the Ivy League standings after an overtime loss at Harvard last weekend. The Big Red's second game of the weekend at Dartmouth was postponed due to the blizzard that forced the schedule delays that wreaked havoc on the Ivy League schedule. The Big Red won three of its last four non-league games before sweeping Columbia to begin Ivy League play. But since the 71-64 double-overtime win at Columbia on Jan. 26, Cornell has lost its last three Ivy League contests. Cornell has faced common non-league opponents Fordham, New Hampshire, St. Francis Brooklyn, and Bucknell, going 1-3 against teams that Yale was 3-1 against. Yale's lone loss in those games came against New Hampshire, while Cornell's lone win came against St. Francis Brooklyn. The Big Red are fourth in the league in scoring (59.2 ppg.) and scoring defense (61.0 ppg). Cornell is second in the league in assists, averaging 14.6 assists on an average of 21.0 made field goals per game. Cornell is led by junior guard Allyson DiMagno, who is averaging a double-double with 13.9 points and 11.7 rebounds per game. She is also leading the Big Red in steals (2.0 spg.). Senior forward Clare Fitzpatrick is second on the team in scoring (13.1 ppg.) and rebounds (4.5 rpg.).
Yale is looking for its seventh consecutive win in a series that dates back to 1974-75. The two teams have met 67 times. Yale leads the all-time series by a 45-22 margin, including season sweeps in the last three seasons. The Big Red owns a 13-11 advantage in the series since 2000, which includes seven straight wins from the 2000-01 season to the first meeting of the 2003-04 season. Yale is 8-6 against Cornell during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as head coach.
In the first meeting of the season, Megan Vasquez became the 17th player in Yale history to record 1,000 career points and Chris Gobrecht earned her 500th career coaching victory in an 86-73 win over Cornell on Feb. 10, 2012. Yale's 16 made 3-pointers in the game tied the all-time Ivy League single-game record. Vasquez scored a game-high 25 points, 16 coming in a dominating first half by the Bulldogs, while Aarica West dished out a career-high 10 assists. Janna Graf added 14 points. Spencer Lane scored 18 points to lead Cornell. Yale closed the first half with a 16-6 run to take a 41-25 halftime lead. The Bulldogs opened that lead to a whopping 23 points, 68-45, with 7:43 left. In the rematch in Ithaca, Yale used a balanced scoring effort to pull out a 69-58 win at Cornell. Graf scored 13 points to lead Yale, which had seven players score at least six points. Vasquez scored all 12 of her points in the second half. Yale drained eight 3-pointers in the game and shot 25-for-51 from the floor (49.0 percent).
DiMagno Guarding the Boards
A 5-11 guard, Allyson DiMagno is finding a way to showcase her inside game. She is averaging a double-double with 13.9 points and 11.7 rebounds per game, and 13.6 points and 13.6 rebounds per Ivy League game. Her 11.7 rebounds per game average ranks 10th in the nation and leads the Ivy League by 2.5 rebounds over Princeton senior Niveen Rasheed. DiMagno has grabbed at least 10 rebounds in 10 games this season, and with 222 total rebounds this season, she needs just 66 more boards to become Cornell's all-time single-season leader.
The Atlantic 10 Conference recently unveiled its inaugural Women's Basketball Legends list, and Cornell head coach Dayna Smith was selected to represent her alma mater, the University of Rhode Island. She is one of just 11 NCAA Division I players to record more than 1,000 points and 750 assists.
Columbia (2-17, 0-5) is in the midst of its longest losing streak of the season, with nine straight losses entering the weekend. The Lions have won just two games this season, beating non-league opponents Fairleigh Dickinson (54-47, Nov. 18) and St. Francis Brooklyn (49-45, Dec. 11). Since that win, Columbia's last nine losses have come by an average margin of 17.4 points. Columbia is last in the Ivy League in scoring, averaging just 48.9 points per game. The Lions have scored less than 50 points in 10 of their 19 games, including a season-low 33 points in a 58-33 loss at Lehigh. However, Columbia's defense can create problems for opposing teams. The Lions have allowed just 61.2 points per game, fifth in the Ivy League, including three games in which they held opponents to less than 50 points. The Lions rank at or near the bottom of the Ivy League in every category except for steals and offensive rebounds. Columbia ranks second in the Ivy League with 9.7 steals per game, and it ranks third with 13.2 offensive rebounds per game. Tyler Simpson leads Columbia with 10.3 points per game, 11.6 ppg. in Ivy League games. Courtney Bradford is Columbia's leading rebounder with 6.2 rpg.
Yale holds a 39-17 edge in a series that dates back to 1975-76 and includes four wins over Barnard College from 1975-1980. Yale and Columbia did not start competing until the Lions' jump to Division I in 1986-87, and Yale owns a 35-17 edge since that season. Since 1999-2000, Yale is 4-9 in games at Columbia and 9-4 at home. Yale split with Columbia last season, winning at home and losing at Columbia. Yale has not won at Columbia since a 66-59 win on Feb. 1, 2008. The Bulldogs are 5-9 against the Lions during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as head coach at Yale.
Megan Vasquez scored a career-high 28 points to lead Yale to a come-from-behind 73-59 win over Columbia at Yale on Feb. 11. Yale trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half before a rally closed the gap to 32-29 at halftime. Columbia pulled ahead 39-34 with 14:13 left in the game, but Yale outscored the Lions 29-11 over the next 7:59 to take a 63-50 lead with 6:15 left. Vasquez scored 11 of Yale's points in the run and Allie Messimer added eight points in that span. In the first half, Yale shot just 11-for-34 (32.4 percent), including 3-for-13 from 3-point range. But in the second half, the Bulldogs shot 17-for-32 (53.1 percent), including 6-for-12 from 3-point range. There was a much different outcome in the rematch. Columbia was a winless 0-10 in Ivy play entering the game, but upset the Bulldogs 56-52 at Levien Gymnasium. Tyler Simpson scored 20 points to lead the Lions, while Courtney Bradford added eight points and a game-high 18 rebounds. Sarah Halejian had 12 points and six rebounds to lead Yale. Yale opened the game with a 7-0 run for its largest lead of the game, but Columbia responded with a 7-0 run and managed to stay one step ahead of the Bulldogs the rest of the way.
Playing for Kay
Columbia will host Yale for its annual Play 4Kay game, which will raise money for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. The Play 4Kay initiative (formerly known as WBCA Pink Zone) is an opportunity for a nation of coaches to raise breast cancer awareness and funds for research. The game carries extra meaning at Columbia. First-year assistant coach Trena Trice-Hill was a player and an assistant coach for Kay Yow at North Carolina State.
Brittany Simmons tallied a career-high eight steals against Cornell on Jan. 19 and is second in the Ivy League with 2.4 steals per game.
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.
Yale bounced back with a strong showing against Penn, enough to grab a 65-56 home win over the Quakers on Feb. 9. Megan Vasquez scored 15 points and pulled down seven rebounds, and she was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line to help Yale hold off Penn. Sarah Halejian scored 10 of her 12 points in the second half, while Janna Graf tallied 11 points and five rebounds. Zenab Keita added eight points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Penn trimmed Yale's 33-22 halftime lead to just 47-44 in the second half and stayed within striking distance, 54-48, with 2:26 left. However, in the final 1:06 of the game, Vasquez went 8-for-8 from the line and Halejian went 3-for-4 to help Yale secure the victory and hold off any final push by the Quakers. The Bulldogs could not keep the momentum going to close out the weekend. Princeton grabbed a big early lead and never looked back in a 99-53 win over Yale. Graf scored 14 points to lead Yale. Halejian scored 11 points. Niveen Rasheed scored a career-high 29 points to go with 12 rebounds for her seventh double-double of the year to lead Princeton.
Weekend Sweep by Harvard/Dartmouth
After a slow start, the Yale University women's basketball team put together a second-half rally that fell just short of a complete comeback against its rivals from Harvard. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs did not have an answer for Harvard sophomore forward Temi Fagbenle, who scored a career-high 20 points with nine rebounds in 22 minutes to lead Harvard to a 67-54 win over Yale last Friday. Megan Vasquez tallied 13 points to lead the Bulldogs. Janna Graf fell just short of a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds, while Sarah Halejian added 10 points. Yale trailed 32-20 at halftime, but managed to pull within three points, 47-44, with 9:43 left, but Harvard used an 18-6 run that put the Crimson ahead 65-50 with 1:22 left and secured the victory. In the second game of the weekend, Yale fell to Dartmouth for the first time since March 6, 2009, with a 63-48 loss on Feb. 2. Faziah Steen scored 19 points to lead Dartmouth. Sarah Halejian scored all 15 of her points in the second half to lead the Bulldogs. Allie Messimer matched her career-high with 14 points, 11 of which came in the second half. Yale was held to just 15 first-half points.
Yale Athletics Pink Zones Postponed to March 2
Yale's two-day event that is now called "Yale Athletics Pink Zones," which was originally scheduled for Feb. 9, was postponed to March 2 due to the forecast of a blizzard. All events from the weekend, including the "Battle of the Badges" competition, will now be held during the final home weekend of the season. The annual fundraiser, 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. Check YaleBulldogs.com for the full schedule.
Following this weekend, Yale will remain on the road in hopes of avenging the sweep at home at the hands of Harvard and Dartmouth. Yale will open next weekend with a game at Dartmouth on Friday and close with a game in Cambridge, Mass., against the Crimson. Yale had won six straight games against Dartmouth prior to the Feb. 2 loss and has not lost in Hanover, N.H., since March 6, 2009. The Bulldogs have won the last two games against Harvard in Cambridge, including the last meeting of the 2010-11 season that allowed Yale to complete the season sweep and clinch the first-ever bid in the WNIT in the history of the program.
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Report filed by Jon Erickson, Jr., Yale Sports Publicity