JERSEY CITY, N.J. – The Yale women's basketball team is heading into the break for exams with momentum -- four road wins' worth of momentum. And the Bulldogs have not just won four straight road games; they have won them by increasingly larger margins. Yale's 70-49 win at Saint Peter's Tuesday night wound up being the team's best defensive effort of the season: the first time the Bulldogs have held an opponent under 50 points. They racked up 21 steals, led by seven from senior guard Tamara Simpson. She also led the team with 21 points.
After pulling out a pair of overtime wins at Binghamton and Stony Brook earlier in the month, the Bulldogs extended the win streak to three with a 75-62 victory at Central Connecticut State last Saturday. Still, they felt there was work to be done -- and the results showed Tuesday.
"In that second half vs. CCSU we felt we left a little bit in the locker room," said Allison Guth, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "Today in the second half, after a slow start we came together and defended. Not only was our 2-3 zone better, but we did some good things with our pressure."
In addition to Simpson's defensive work, Yale (7-3, 0-0 Ivy League) also got six steals from sophomore forward Bronwyn Davies -- who chipped in six rebounds to boot.
"She had some big steals on the back side of the 2-3 zone, and she forced a couple good things with our full-court pressure," said Guth. "She also did a really good job crashing the boards, especially getting us some second-chance opportunities with offensive rebounds. She brought us a spark and energy off the bench."
The game got off to a slow start, as the teams were a combined 2-for-8 from the field and 0-for-2 from the free throw line in the first three minutes. But after the Peacocks tied the game 2-2, a layup by sophomore guard Roxy Barahman gave the Bulldogs a lead they would not relinquish. Yale led 17-15 after the first quarter.
Saint Peter's (3-7, 0-0 MAAC) was still within two with just over four minutes left in the second quarter, when senior guard Mary Ann Santucci hit a three. That was part of a 9-4 run to end the quarter, capped by a three from Barahman that put Yale up 35-27 heading into the break. She would finish with 16 points, shooting 5-for-12 from the field.
The Bulldogs' lead grew to 10 early in the third quarter, but Saint Peter's answered with an 8-0 run to get within two. Simpson stopped that run with a free throw, and Barahman followed with a three to squelch any remaining SPU momentum. Six free throws in the final 2:17 -- four by Simpson and two by Davies -- sent the Bulldogs into the fourth quarter up by 15, 57-42.
The final quarter was all Yale, as the Bulldogs outscored the Peacocks 13-7 and limited them to a 2-for-10 performance from the field. A jumper by first-year forward Alex Cade with 5:47 left got the lead to 22, capping a 10-3 run at the start of the quarter.
As the final minutes ticked away, the lone sense of suspense came from the fact that Simpson was closing in on her 1,000th career point. She wound up taking nine of Yale's 13 shots in the fourth quarter, finishing just shy of the milestone -- 998 career points.
"What's great about this team is, they knew what was going on," said Guth. "They are so unselfish. The way Tamara got her points was by creating from a defensive standpoint. She attacked the basket with a no-nonsense attitude."
First-year forward Ellen Margaret Andrews finished with 11 points and four steals, and sophomore forward Megan Gorman had five rebounds. Thanks in part to quality minutes from junior forward Alexandra Maund (four points, two rebounds and a steal in 16 minutes), the Bulldogs survived despite the foul trouble that limited senior forward Jen Berkowitz to just 18 minutes.
The game concludes a hectic stretch of four road games in 11 days for the Bulldogs. They will play just three times in the next 30 days -- a game vs. Indiana at Lee Amphitheater on Dec. 21 and a pair of games at Fordham's Holiday Classic in New York City Dec. 28-29.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity