Yale Falls at Harvard Despite Halejian’s Historic Night

Sarah Halejian. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Sarah Halejian. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Sophomore Guard Scores Career-High 29 Points on 12-of-15 Shooting


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A few extra minutes were all sophomore guard Sarah Halejian needed Saturday night to score the most points in a single game in the history of women's basketball at Yale University.

Halejian and her Yale teammates almost forced the extra time that she needed to reach the record, but Harvard held off the Bulldogs in the closing seconds to hand Yale a 69-66 loss inside Lavietes Pavilion.

So instead of breaking Yale's all-time single-game record, Halejian will have to settle for the No. 2 spot in three different categories in Yale's history.

Halejian led all scorers with a career-high 29 points on 12-of-15 shooting, including a perfect 4-for-4 from 3-point range. She also had six rebounds. The 29 points, 12 made field goals and 80.0 field-goal percentage are all the second-highest marks in Yale's record books.

Erica Davis '07 scored the most points in a single game when she scored 36 at Lafayette on Jan. 7, 2004. Davis and senior guard Megan Vasquez both scored 28 points in a single game, which was No. 2 before Halejian's outing at Harvard Saturday night. Davis set the single-game mark on 15 made field goals, which is also Yale's single-game record.

Halejian's 12-for-15 performance (80.0 percent) matches Melissa Colborne '10 for the No. 2 spot. Colborne was 8-for-10 at Columbia on Feb. 1, 2008. Michelle Cashen '12 is Yale's record holder with a 90.0 percent night at Colorado on Jan. 4, 2010.

"The performance by Sarah was as good of a performance as I have ever seen from someone in a Yale uniform," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "She gave us a chance to win and I wish we could have done it. It's a shame that it couldn't give us the win."

Yale trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half but rallied to tie the game three times in the second half, thanks to Halejian, who scored 22 of her points on 9-of-10 shooting in the final 20 minutes of the game.

But after Yale tied the game at 56-56 with 4:59 left on a jumper by freshman guard Nyasha Sarju, Harvard used a 9-2 run over the next 3:16 to pull ahead for good. Yale cut the deficit to just three points on a 3-pointer by Halejian with six seconds left, but time ran out before the Bulldogs could tie the game for a fourth time to force overtime.

"We needed to make some defensive stops. That was the biggest thing," Gobrecht said. "What we are all going to be kicking ourselves about later is not making those defensive stops with the game on the line, and especially with letting people cut across the front of our bodies. That's one of our big no-no's on defense. That is what we will be kicking ourselves the most about."

With the loss, which snapped a three-game win streak, Yale falls to 10-14 overall, 5-5 in Ivy League play, while Harvard improves to 15-8 overall, 6-3 in Ivy League play. It was Yale's first loss on the road in Ivy League play this season.

Senior guard Megan Vasquez scored eight of her 13 points in the first half. She and Halejian scored 15 of Yale's 26 first-half points, but Temi Fagbenle (8), Christine Clark (7) and Victoria Lippert (7) combined to score 22 points to help Harvard grab a 35-26 halftime lead.

Yale trailed early on, 14-6, but back-to-back threes by Vasquez cut the Yale deficit to 14-12 at the 10:18 mark. But over the next 7:46, Harvard put together a 16-3 run that pushed its lead to 30-15 with 2:32 left in the half.

Yale outscored the Crimson 11-5 to close the half and cut the deficit to a manageable nine-point spread at halftime.

After Lippert drained a 3-pointer to start the second half, Yale turned things around with an 18-7 run over a 6:23 span that turned the 12-point hole into a 45-44 Harvard advantage with 12:37 left.

An old-fashioned 3-point play by Vasquez with 9:14 left finally pulled Yale even with Harvard at 47-47 for the first tie of the game.

But each time that Yale tied the game, Harvard would immediately respond with a score to maintain its hold on the game.

After Vasquez tied the game, the Crimson scored the next four points to pull ahead 51-47 with 7:19 to play.

Yale's persistence paid off again when junior center Zenab Keita's layup tied the game at 54-54 with 5:39 left, but Lippert followed with a jumper to put the Crimson back on top 56-54 with 5:15 left. Sarju came through with her jump shot on the next possession to tie the game at 56-56 with 4:59 left, but Harvard responded with the final run that turned out to be the decisive stretch of the game.

Yale returns home for the final home weekend of the regular season beginning with Friday's game against Columbia. The Bulldogs will celebrate Senior Night on Saturday with a game against Cornell, a game that will also serve as the make-up for Yale's Pink Zones night, which was postponed after the blizzard that hit the area two weeks ago.

Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity