Game Day Central: Bulldogs Look to Keep Streaks Alive at Dartmouth, Harvard

Zenab Keita. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Zenab Keita. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Game #23

Yale Bulldogs (9-13, 4-4 Ivy League) at Dartmouth Big Green (6-15, 4-3 Ivy League)

  • February 22, 2013 • 7 p.m.
  • Leede Arena (2,100) • Hanover, N.H.
  • Video (Fee)/Live Stats:


Game #24

Yale Bulldogs (9-13, 4-4 Ivy League) at Harvard Crimson (13-8, 4-3 Ivy League)

  • February 23, 2013 • 6 p.m.
  • Lavietes Pavilion (2,050) • Cambridge, Mass.
  • Video (Fee):
  • Live Stats:



Opening Tip

 Yale will close a four-game road swing this weekend with visits to Dartmouth Friday and rival Harvard on Saturday, and in both games, the Bulldogs are looking to salvage a split of the season series. Yale has won three of its last four games and is looking to extend win streaks in both games this weekend. Yale is looking for its fourth straight win over Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H., with the Bulldogs' last road loss to the Big Green coming on March 6, 2009, which was also Dartmouth's last win over Yale prior to defeating the Bulldogs in New Haven three weeks ago. Yale visits Harvard on Saturday looking for its third straight win over the Crimson in Cambridge, Mass. Yale had won three of the last four games against Harvard prior to the Crimson's win in New Haven three weeks ago. Senior guard Megan Vasquez (1,325 career points) enters the weekend needing just 11 points to match Katy Grubbs (1,336 points) for seventh place on Yale's all-time scoring list.







Scouting Dartmouth

Dartmouth was just 2-12 at the end of non-league play, and after opening Ivy League play with a loss at Harvard, the Big Green won four straight League games to surge into second place in the Ivy League standings. However, Dartmouth suffered a sweep last weekend at the hands of Princeton and Penn to fall one game behind Penn for second place. Dartmouth is averaging just 53.6 points per game and is allowing 62.8 points. The -9.2 point scoring margin is the second-worst in the Ivy League. The Big Green's 36.6 percent shooting percentage ranks fifth in the Ivy League, while the 39.6 shooting percentage for its opponents is ranked seventh. The key for Dartmouth is the play of its defense. In all six of its wins, the Big Green has held opponents to less than 55 points. In games when opponents score less than 60 points, Dartmouth is 6-4. When opponents score at least 60 points, Dartmouth is 0-11. Another key for Dartmouth is its play under the basket. The Big Green have outrebounded 12 opponents this season. Dartmouth's leading scorer is senior guard Faziah Steen, who is averaging 12.1 points per game. She also leads the team in steals (37) and assists (29). Tia Dawson is the team's leading rebounder (8.1 rpg.).  


Series History

Dartmouth and Yale will meet for the 72nd time on Friday in a series that dates back to Yale's first season as a varsity program in 1973-74. Following its win at Yale three weeks ago, Dartmouth now leads the series 51-20, with a 10-7 edge in the last 17 meetings. Yale had won six straight games prior to this season with season sweeps in the last three seasons. Dartmouth's last home win over Yale came in a 61-51 decision in Hanover on March 6, 2009.  The Bulldogs are 7-8 against Dartmouth during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as head coach at Yale.


First Meeting of 2012-13

In the opening game of the series, Faziah Steen scored 19 points, 10 coming in the second half, to help Dartmouth hold off a second-half charge by Yale in a 63-48 win in New Haven on Feb. 2. It was Dartmouth's first win over Yale since March 6, 2009. 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. The Bulldogs led 6-4 at the 15:41 mark, but Dartmouth outscored the Bulldogs 26-9 to close the half and go into the halftime break with a commanding 30-15 lead. Yale turned things around in a hurry to start the second half, opening the half with a 14-2 run that trimmed the deficit to 32-29 with 14:51 remaining. All 14 of Yale's points came from Halejian (8) and Messimer (6). That, however, was as close as Yale could get. Dartmouth came alive with a 12-2 run to stretch its lead to 44-31 with 11:29 left and held on the rest of the way for the win.


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.







Scouting Harvard

Harvard was 9-5 at the end of non-league play and opened Ivy League play with a 4-1 record. However, the Crimson fell out of second place last weekend after suffering a weekend sweep at the hands of Penn and Princeton. Harvard is an unbeaten 6-0 in games played inside Lavietes Pavilion, including 2-0 in home Ivy League contests with wins over Dartmouth and Cornell. The Crimson is averaging 67.9 points per game while allowing 65.1 points, which is the second-worst in the Ivy League. The Crimson has scored at least 60 points in every game this season except for the losses at Dartmouth (45) and at Princeton (51), and at least 70 points nine times, winning seven of those games. Harvard is second in the Ivy League in scoring offense (67.9 ppg.) and leads the League in field goal percentage (44.1 percent) and 3-point field goal percentage (36.2 percent). Junior guard Christine Clark is leading Harvard in scoring (15.8 points per game), assists (57) and steals (30). Sophomore forward Temi Fagbenle is the team's leading rebounder with 7.5 rebounds per game, and she is second on the team in scoring with 12.6 points per game.


Series History

In a series that dates back to the 1974-75 season, the Ivy League's two fiercest rivals have met 73 times prior to Saturday's game. Harvard leads the all-time series by a 43-30 margin. Prior to this season, Yale had won three of the previous 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. Yale has won the last two games played inside Lavietes Pavilion, while Harvard's two wins in the last five meetings have come at Yale. The Bulldogs are 5-10 against Harvard during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as Yale's head coach.


First Meeting of 2012-13

Harvard sophomore forward Temi Fagbenle tallied 20 points and nine rebounds in 22 minutes to lead Harvard to a 67-54 win over Yale inside John J. Lee Amphitheater on Feb. 1. Senior guard Megan Vasquez recorded 13 points, four rebounds, and four assists to lead the Bulldogs. Junior guard Janna Graf fell just short of a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds, while sophomore guard Sarah Halejian recorded 10 points and two blocks. In the first half, Yale briefly led 5-4 at the 16:45 mark, but Harvard came to life with a 17-2 run, with eight of those points coming from Fagbenle, to take a 21-7 lead midway through the half. Yale trimmed that deficit to just eight points, 28-20, with 2:50 left in the half on a pair of free throws by Graf, but Harvard scored the final four points of the period to take a 32-20 halftime lead. Harvard pushed its lead to 45-38 at the midway point of the half, but Yale rallied again with a 7-2 run thanks to 3-pointers from Halejian and senior captain Allie Messimer that cut Yale's deficit to 47-44 with 9:43 left. Harvard took control with an 18-6 run that put the Crimson ahead 65-50 with 1:22 left and secured the victory.


Counting on Clark

Junior guard Christine Clark is the Ivy League's No. 2 leading scorer with an average of 15.8 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 17 of Harvard's 21 games, but she has been held below 10 points three of the Crimson's last five games. She has tallied at least 20 points five times this season, including three consecutive games, averaging 21.3 ppg. in the three games. She has started all 79 games for the Crimson over the last three years and has scored in double-digits 65 times and at least 20 points 11 times. However, in the two losses last weekend, she was held to eight points at Penn and seven at Princeton.







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.


Historic Sweep of the Empire State

Yale used a dominant first half at Columbia on Feb. 16 to accomplish a feat that has not been done by a Bulldogs squad in 15 years. Four players scored in double figures, leading Yale's balanced scoring attack to a 62-43 win at Columbia. The win gave Yale its first weekend road sweep of Cornell and Columbia since the 1997-98 season when it defeated Cornell, 61-56 in overtime, on Feb. 20, 1998, and Columbia, 72-56, on Feb. 21, 1998. It is also Yale's first win at Columbia since a 66-59 win on Feb. 1, 2008. The win follows a 67-58 win at Cornell on Feb. 15. Against the Lions, six players scored all of Yale's points, with Megan Vasquez and Sarah Halejian leading the way with 12 points apiece. Leading 16-11 with 13:38 left in the half, Yale used a 20-0 run over the next 9:50 to blow the game wide open and take a 36-11 lead with 3:48 left in the half. Yale later used a 17-1 run to pull ahead 60-39 with 4:05 left, effectively putting the game out of reach for Columbia. In the win at Cornell, Vasquez reached the 1,300-point milestone with Yale's first basket of the game and finished with 15 points to lead Yale. Janna Graf scored 12 of her 13 points in the second half to help the Bulldogs rally from a second-half deficit. Cornell led 37-32 when Graf scored five straight points to tie the game at 37-37 with 9:32 left. The teams traded points until Graf sank a pair of free throws to tie the game at 41-41, and then Yale used a 10-4 spurt to pull ahead 51-45 with 5:30 left.


Vasquez Milestone Watch

Senior guard Megan Vasquez continues her climb to the top of Yale's all-time scoring list. With her first basket of the game in the win at Cornell, Vasquez became the eighth player in Yale's history to record 1,300 points in a career. After scoring 15 points at Cornell and 12 more in the win at Columbia last weekend, she now has 1,325 career points. She is just 11 points away from matching Katy Grubbs '99 (1,336) for seventh place on Yale's all-time scoring list and 46 points behind Seattle Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel '81 (1,371) for sixth place. Vasquez is 93 points out of the Top 5 with six games remaining. Melissa Colborne '10 currently holds the fifth spot with 1,418 career points.


Ivy League's Road Warriors

Following its historic road sweep of Cornell and Columbia on Feb. 15-16, Yale improved to a perfect 3-0 on the road against Ivy League competition. Yale's Ivy League success on the road has been a key factor in the team's overall success over the course of the last three seasons. In the last three seasons, Yale 13-4 in Ivy League road games. In the 2011-12 season, Yale finished with a 16-12 overall record and an 8-6 mark in Ivy League play, with a 5-2 Ivy record on the road. In 2010-11, a season that ended with Yale's first-ever trip to the WNIT, the Bulldogs ended the season in second place in the Ivy League with a program-best 10-4 League record, including a 5-2 mark on the road.


Penn/Princeton Split 

Yale secured a 65-56 home win over the Quakers on Feb. 9. Megan Vasquez tallied 15 points and 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 career-high 12 rebounds. Penn trimmed Yale's 33-22 halftime lead to just 47-44 in the second half, but Vasquez went 8-for-8 from the line in the final 1:06 to help Yale secure the victory. 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 29 points to go with 12 rebounds to lead Princeton.


Weekend Sweep by Harvard/Dartmouth 

Unfortunately, the Yale could not find an answer for Temi Fagbenle, who scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 22 minutes to lead Harvard to a 67-54 win over Yale on Feb. 1. Megan Vasquez tallied 13 points to lead the Bulldogs. Janna Graf fell had 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 to secure 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.


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 Feb. 18, and Yale is ranked No. 24 among the nation's 343 Division I schools in 3-pointers made per game with 7.2 3-pointers per game. Yale is No. 63 in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (33.1 percent). On the defensive end, Yale's 3-point shooting defense was ranked No. 7 in the country. The Bulldogs are holding teams to just 24.9 percent.


Bulldog Trends

  • Yale's leading scorer, Sarah Halejian, has scored in double figures in 20 of Yale's 22 games. In her only single-digit games of the season, she scored nine points against Sacred Heart and seven points at Cornell.
  • Junior center Zenab Keita is averaging 8.3 rebounds per game over the last four games, including a career-best 12 boards in the win over Penn on Feb. 9.
  • Halejian has started 39 straight games, including all 22 games this season and the last 17 games of the 2011-12 season.
  • Since scoring just two points in the loss to Dartmouth on Feb. 2, senior guard Megan Vasquez has averaged 13.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists over the last four games. 
  • Since she was held to just six points in the loss to Dartmouth on Feb. 2, junior guard Janna Graf has averaged 12.3 points and 5.3 rebounds over the last four games. 
  • Senior captain Allie Messimer is shooting an Ivy League-best 57.1 percent (12-for-21) from 3-point range against Ivy League competition.


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 for the full schedule.


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 road sweep of Cornell and Columbia on Feb. 15-16, Gobrecht now has 87 wins at Yale and is now 20 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 Feb. 18 statistics update, Yale is ranked No. 24 among the nation's 343 Division I schools with 7.2 3-pointers made per game and No. 63 in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (33.1 percent).
  • Yale's 3-point shooting defense is ranked No. 7 in the country. The Bulldogs are holding teams to just 24.7 percent.
  • Junior guard Janna Graf is ranked fourth among Ivy League leaders in 3-point shooting percentage (39.4 percent).
  • Graf is third in the Ivy League in 3-pointers made per game with 1.9 per game.
  • Yale leads the Ivy League in 3-pointers made per game (7.2) and defensive 3-point shooting percentage (24.7 percent).
  • Yale is second in the Ivy League in 3-point shooting percentage (33.0 percent)and offensive rebounds (13.4 orpg.).
  • Yale is third in the Ivy League in scoring (64.4 ppg.) and free-throw percentage (72.6 percent).
  • The Bulldogs are 4-7 at home this season and 5-6 on the road.


Next Up

Following this weekend, Yale will return home for the final time in the regular season to host Columbia on March 1 and Cornell on March 2. The Cornell game will represent Senior Day, the final home game for both Allie Messimer, Yale's captain, and Megan Vasquez. When Yale hosts Columbia, it will be the 58th meeting between the two teams. Yale holds a 40-17 edge in the series following last weekend's win in New York City and a 23-5 all-time lead in games played in New Haven. Yale and Cornell will meet for the 69th time in the history of a series that dates back to the 1974-75 season. Yale holds a 46-22 lead over Cornell, and will be looking to extend its winning streak over the Big Red to eight straight wins. 


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