Yale Bulldogs (12-14, 7-5 Ivy League) at Princeton Tigers (19-6, 10-1 Ivy League)
Yale Bulldogs (12-14, 7-5 Ivy League) at Penn Quakers (15-10, 8-3 Ivy League)
Yale will head out on the road to close out the regular season with a pair of Ivy League games at Princeton on Friday and Penn on Saturday. The Bulldogs need at least a split of the weekend's games in order to remain in the hunt for a postseason berth, but even with a sweep, help is needed from Harvard and Penn, as both teams need to lose at least two of their final three games to give Yale any chance at a late push for second place and the Ivy League's automatic berth in the WNIT. On Friday, Yale will visit Princeton in hopes of scoring its first victory over the Tigers since the 2008-09 season. The Bulldogs will visit the historic Palestra on Saturday to take on Penn in the final game of the regular season. Yale has won seven of the last eight meetings with the Quakers, including the last three games at the Palestra. Yale will look to leading scorer Sarah Halejian (13.8 ppg.) and Megan Vasquez to carry the load this weekend. Vasquez enters the weekend needing 32 points to pass Melissa Colborne '10 and become one of the top five scorers in Yale's history.
Princeton is once again the dominant team in the Ivy League and had carried an Ivy League-record 33-game winning streak against Ivy League opponents until it was beaten at Harvard last weekend. At 19-6 overall and 10-1 in Ivy League play, Princeton is poised to grab its fourth consecutive Ivy League championship and can accomplish this with a pair of wins this weekend. The Tigers have won 12 of their last 13 games heading into this weekend. Prior to losing at Harvard, Princeton's five other losses came before Christmas, and all six losses this season have come in road games. At home, the Tigers are an unbeaten 11-0. In its 10 Ivy League games, Princeton has cruised to victory, with an average scoring margin of 27.6 points. The Tigers lead the Ivy League in scoring (75.6 ppg.) and are holding opponents to a League-best 48.0 points per game. The Tigers are also making a name for themselves on the national stage. Princeton is ranked in the top-100 in 15 different national statistical categories, including Top-50 rankings in scoring offense (16th), scoring margin (7th), scoring defense (23rd), field goal percentage (19th), field goal percentage defense (9th), rebound margin (4th), assists per game (9th) and assist turnover ratio (12th). Senior Niveen Rasheed is leading the team in scoring (17.0 ppg.), rebounding (9.2 rpg.), total assists (78) and total steals (69).
In a series that dates back to Yale's first season as a varsity program in 1973-74, the two teams have met 78 times, with Princeton playing Yale more times than any other opponent. The Tigers lead the series 48-30, and they have won the last eight meetings, with Yale's last win over Princeton coming in a 56-54 decision in Princeton, N.J., on Feb. 13, 2009. The Bulldogs are 3-11 against the Tigers during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as head coach at Yale.
First Meeting of 2012-13
In a game delayed a day due to a blizzard that hit New Haven that week, Princeton grabbed a big early lead and never looked back in a 99-53 win over Yale on Feb. 10. It was Princeton's 29th straight Ivy League win. Janna Graf scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds to lead Yale. Sarah Halejian scored 11 points and pulled down five rebounds. Megan Vasquez added 11 points. Niveen Rasheed scored a career-high 29 points to go with 12 rebounds. Princeton opened the game with a 20-0 run, holding Yale scoreless until Vasquez put the Bulldogs on the board with her jumper 6:09 into the game. The Tigers scored their 40th point of the game before Yale reached double figures when Mariah Smith's jumper put Princeton ahead 40-9 with 4:24 left. The Bulldogs outscored the Tigers 17-16 over the final 3:51, but by that point, Princeton had the game well under control. Princeton was nearly as imposing in the second half. The margin hovered around 39 points until the final 3:12 when Princeton used a game-ending 8-0 run to stretch the lead to 46 points, its largest lead of the game and the final margin of victory.
Snapped at 33
Princeton dropped its first loss since before Christmas in a 58-55 loss at Harvard on March 1. It was the Tigers' first Ivy League loss since 2011. Princeton's Ivy League win streak reached a league-record 33 straight wins before the loss at Harvard. It was the second-longest conference winning streak in the nation, trailing only No. 1 Baylor's currently active 40-game winning streak against Big 12 opponents.
Senior Niveen Rasheed was recently added to the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Watch List. It is the fourth national watch list that Rasheed has been named to this year. She is also on the State Farm Wade Watch List, as well as the watch lists for the Naismith Player of the Year award and Wooden Award Women's Preseason Top 30.
Penn is heading into the final weekend with a chance to lock up second place in the Ivy League and the automatic berth in the WNIT if it sweeps Yale and Brown this weekend and Harvard loses to Cornell and Columbia. The Quakers will be celebrating Senior Night when they host the Bulldogs at the Palestra on Saturday. Penn had won eight of its previous nine games before losing to Harvard last weekend, with the lone loss in that stretch coming at Yale on Feb. 9. Penn is fourth in the Ivy League in scoring offense, averaging 58.6 points per game, just behind Yale's scoring average of 64.8 points. However, the Quaker defense is second in the league, holding opponents to just 55.7 points per game. Penn leads the Ivy League in blocked shots (4.2 bpg.) and turnover margin (+3.56). The Quakers also have the fewest turnovers in the League with just 13.8 per game. Defense is key for the Quakers, who are 12-3 in games in which they have allowed fewer than 60 points. Junior guard Alyssa Baron is Penn's leading scorer and rebounder with an average of 14.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Freshman Keiera Ray is second on the team in scoring, averaging 11.0 points per game.
In a series that dates back to 1974-75, the two teams have met 71 times. Yale leads the series with a 37-34 edge over the Quakers. Yale is 7-1 over Penn in the last eight games against Penn, but the one loss came in the final game of the regular season last year. The teams split the series last year, but Yale had swept the season series from Penn in the two seasons prior to last year. A Yale victory will give the Bulldogs their fourth straight win at the Palestra. Yale's last loss at Penn was on Feb. 14, 2009. Yale is 9-6 over Penn during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as Yale's head coach.
First Meeting of 2012-13
In a game that was moved to the Lanman Center because of leaks in the roof of John J. Lee Amphitheater following a blizzard, Megan Vasquez scored 15 points and pulled down six rebounds, and she was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line to help Yale hold off Penn, 65-56, on Feb. 9. Sarah Halejian scored 10 of her 12 points in the second half, while Janna Graf tallied 11 points, six rebounds and five assists. Zenab Keita added eight points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Keiera Ray scored 13 points to pace Penn, while Kathleen Roche added 10 points. Alyssa Baron, Penn's leading scorer was held to just four points, after playing most of the game in foul trouble. Ray hit a pair of free throws to pull Penn to 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.
Sophomore 6-1 forward Kara Bonenberger and junior 6-3 forward Courtney Wilson are a big reason for Penn's inside dominance this season. Bonenberger is leading the Ivy League in blocks with 37, while Wilson is second in the league with 34 blocks. Both players are about to enter program's record books for blocks in a single season. Jess Knapp had 38 blocks in 2010-11, which is sixth all-time at Penn. Both Bonenberger and Wilson are on pace to pass that mark, possibly this weekend, but the school's record of 72 set by Katarina Poulsen in 1993-94, is probably safe this season.
Bank on Baron
Junior Alyssa Baron has started all 81 games in her Penn career. She led the Ivy League in scoring in each of the last two seasons, but is currently fourth in the league (14.0 ppg.). The 2010-11 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, she became the first freshman in Ivy League history to lead the league in scoring (16.6 ppg.) in 2010-11.
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.
Piling up the Wins
Yale's two seniors, captain Allie Messimer and Megan Vasquez, played the final two home games of their Yale careers last weekend against Columbia and Cornell. With the weekend sweep, it gave the senior pair a total of 55 victories in their Yale careers. It matches the Classes of 1989 and 1996 for the second-most total wins by a single class. The Class of 1980 holds the Yale record for most wins with 57. With a sweep of Princeton and Penn this weekend, Messimer and Vasquez can match that mark. With one win this weekend, Messimer and Vasquez will own the record for Ivy League wins by a single class. Currently, the pair owns 33 Ivy victories, which is tied for the most by a class with the Class of 1989.
Megan Vasquez and captain Allie Messimer will play the final games of their Yale careers this weekend. Vasquez has established herself as one of the greatest offensive players to ever play for the Bulldogs. She currently has scored 1,386 points in her career, which ranks sixth on Yale's all-time scoring list. Yale's leading scorer in each of her first three seasons, Vasquez was an All-Ivy League First Team selection following her sophomore and junior seasons, one of only six Yale players to earn First Team honors more than once in a career. Messimer is the 35th captain in the 40-year history of Yale Women's Basketball. She is one of the best 3-point shooters in Yale's history, ranking No. 7 on Yale's all-time list with 115 made 3-pointers in her career and No. 9 in Yale's history in 3-point shooting percentage (34.3 percent).
Vasquez Milestone Watch
Senior guard Megan Vasquez continues her climb to the top of Yale's all-time scoring list. She is the eighth player in Yale's history to record 1,300 points in a career. After scoring 15 points against Columbia and 18 more against Cornell last weekend, she now has 1,386 career points. She is currently in sixth place on Yale's all-time scoring list. Vasquez is 14 points from becoming the sixth player to notch 1,400 career point at Yale. With 32 points this weekend, Vasquez will match Melissa Colborne '10 (1,418) and move into the Top 5 on Yale's scoring list.
Record Night for Halejian
In Yale's 69-66 loss at Harvard on Feb. 23, Sarah Halejian cemented her place in Yale's record books. She scored 29 points on 12-of-15 shooting. The 29 points, 12 made field goals and her 80.0 percent field goal percentage all place second in Yale's single-game records. Halejian scored 22 of her points in the second half alone, which would have been enough to surpass her previous career-high of 21 points. Erica Davis '07 scored the most points in a single game when she scored 36 at Lafayette on Jan. 7, 2004. Davis and Megan Vasquez both scored 28 points in a single game, which was No. 2 before Halejian's outing at Harvard. 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.
Shooting to the Top of the Ivy League
Allie Messimer has made her mark in the final games of her Yale career. The senior captain has shot to the top of the Ivy League leaders in the last 12 games. Since the Ivy League season began, Messimer has sizzled from behind the arc, shooting 17-for-31 from 3-point range, a success rate of 54.8 percent, which leads the Ivy League for shooting percentage in league games. Her shooting from long distance over the last 12 games has also pushed her overall 3-point shooting percentage to the top of the Ivy League. Heading into the final weekend of her career, Messimer is shooting 31-for-76 from behind the arc, an Ivy League-best 40.8 percent.
Another Historic Sweep
After a pair of home victories last weekend, Yale pulled off a feat that has not been accomplished in 15 years. In beating Columbia 66-49 on March 1 and Cornell 71-64 on March 2, Yale completed a four-game sweep of the Ivy League's two New York schools. Last month, Yale pulled off its first road sweep of Cornell and Columbia since 1997-98 with a 67-58 win at Cornell on Feb. 15 and a 62-53 win at Columbia on Feb. 16. It is the first time that Yale has swept the season series from Columbia and Cornell since the 1997-98 season when it defeated Columbia 82-52 at home on Feb. 6, 1998, and 72-56 on the road on Feb. 21, 1998, and finished off a sweep of Cornell with a 60-45 win at home on Feb. 7 and a 61-56 overtime win in Ithaca on Feb. 20. Janna Graf scored 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting and added six rebounds and three assists to lead Yale to the win over Columbia on Friday. Megan Vasquez tallied 15 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals for the Bulldogs, while Sarah Halejian added 13 points, four assists and four steals. Vasquez tallied 18 points and six rebounds in the final home game of her Yale career to lead the Bulldogs to the win over Cornell on Senior Night on Saturday. Halejian scored 17 points and pulled down five rebounds, while Graf added 16 points and nine rebounds.
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 March 3, and Yale is ranked No. 31 among the nation's 343 Division I schools in 3-pointers made per game with 7.0 3-pointers per game. Yale is No. 55 in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (33.3 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 24.8 percent.
Ivy League's Road Warriors
Following its split at Dartmouth and Harvard last weekend, Yale moved to 4-1 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 14-5 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.
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 sweep of Columbia and Cornell last weekend, Gobrecht now has 90 wins at Yale and is now 17 wins behind Cecelia DeMarco (107-127), Yale's all-time winningest head coach.
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Report filed by Jon Erickson, Jr., Yale Sports Publicity