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Yale Heads to New York for Fordham Holiday Classic

Tamara Simpson, Megan Gorman, Jen Berkowitz, Ellen Margaret Andrews and Roxy Barahman. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Tamara Simpson, Megan Gorman, Jen Berkowitz, Ellen Margaret Andrews and Roxy Barahman. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

YALE-UC DAVIS THURSDAY 3:30 P.M.

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  • Yale will play either Fordham or Hartford on Friday. Tip-off will either be 1:00 p.m. (if Yale loses Thursday) or 3:30 p.m. (if Yale wins Thursday)

 

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – A strong tournament field awaits the Yale women's basketball team in New York at the 11th annual Fordham Holiday Classic, where the three other teams have combined for a 23-10 (.697) record. The Bulldogs, who face UC Davis in the first round on Thursday at 3:30 p.m., will look to bounce back after having a four-game winning streak snapped last Thursday by Indiana. The winners of Thursday's games will meet Friday at 3:30 p.m. for the championship, while the losers of Thursday's games will play at 1:00 p.m. Friday in the third-place game. Yale last played in Fordham's tournament in 2010.

 

BULLDOGS EDGED BY INDIANA

Yale (7-4, 0-0 Ivy League) had a four-game winning streak snapped last time out, falling to Indiana 72-68 at Lee Amphitheater. Senior guard Tamara Simpson (North Babylon, N.Y.) scored a career-high 31 points, including the 1,000th point of her career. She also led the team with five assists and five steals. Senior forward Jen Berkowitz (Wayland, Mass.) had a team-best eight rebounds.

 

BULLDOGS ON THE OFFENSIVE

Yale is averaging 70.9 points per game, second-best in the Ivy League and a 16 percent improvement over last season's average (61.1 points per game). The last time the Bulldogs averaged 70.0 or more points per game for a full season was 1986-87 (73.5 points per game).

The 82 points the Bulldogs scored in the wins vs. Colgate and TCU represent the most they have scored in Allison Guth's three seasons as Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball.

 

TRACKING THE THREE-POINTERS

Yale hit 10 three-pointers in the 82-56 win vs. Colgate Nov. 13, the most the Bulldogs have hit in a game since hitting 11 on Dec. 1, 2016. That included seven threes in the first quarter alone, led by three from first-year guard Tori Andrew (Wayzata, Minn.).

Last year the Bulldogs averaged 6.8 made threes per game; they are averaging 6.0 per game this year. In the three games that Andrew has played, the Bulldogs averaged 7.7 threes per game. Yale has hit six or more three-pointers in eight of 11 games this year.

 

CAPTAIN SANTUCCI

Senior guard Mary Ann Santucci (Seattle, Wash.) was elected captain for the 2017-18 season by her teammates. Santucci has missed just one game in her career, and has 51 starts -- including 26 starts last season. One of the team's top ballhandlers, she was second on the team in assists last season (2.2 per game) and shot a career-high 35.9 percent from three-point range. She averaged a career-high 4.6 points per game. She is averaging 3.6 points per game this year.

Santucci earned her third start of the season Dec. 2, posting a season-high 12 points in the win at Binghamton. She was 3-for-6 from three-point range.

Santucci is an ecology and evolutionary biology major in Morse College. She graduated from Seattle Prep.

 

RECORD-BREAKING YEAR FOR SIMPSON

Senior guard Tamara Simpson (North Babylon, N.Y.) became the 20th player in Yale history to reach the 1,000 career point mark with a layup in the first quarter against Indiana at Lee Amphitheater on Dec. 21. She went on to score a career-high 31 points that day.

Those were the latest milestones in Simpson's career, as she enjoys her best season to date. She leads the team in scoring, averaging 17.8 points per game (fourth in the Ivy League) -- an 85 percent improvement over last season (9.6 points per game). She also leads the Ivy League in steals (4.9 per game) and is ninth in assists (3.1 per game). She scored 21 points in the season-opening 62-51 win vs. LIU Brooklyn, shooting 6-for-12 from the field, then matched that total Dec. 12 in the 70-49 win at Saint Peter's. She tied her career high with nine steals against Providence Nov. 29, matching that total in the win at Stony Brook Dec. 6.

Simpson now has 1,029 career points. The last Bulldog to reach the 1,000-point milestone was Janna Graf '14, who finished her career in 2014 with 1,151 points. Graf scored her 1,000th point on Dec. 29, 2013. Yale's all-time leading scorer is Mary Kalich '95 (1,663 points).

Simpson is the reigning Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year. She already holds the Yale career record for steals (281 entering Thursday's game). As of Dec. 23 she was second among active NCAA players in career steals. She led the league in steals last season with 79 and contributed offensively as well -- she was third on the team in points per game (9.6).

Simpson is a psychology major in Jonathan Edwards College. She graduated from Portledge School.

 

BERKOWITZ AMONG IVY LEAGUE LEADERS

At six-foot-two, senior forward Jen Berkowitz (Wayland, Mass.) is a formidable presence in the post for the Bulldogs. She is second on the team in scoring (14.5 points per game, ninth in the Ivy League) and leads the team in rebounding (8.2 rebounds per game, fifth in the Ivy League). She also has the league's best field goal percentage (.530). She is on pace for career highs in all three categories. She tied her career high with 26 points in the win at Stony Brook, and had a career-high 16 rebounds at Kansas.

Berkowitz returns after earning honorable mention All-Ivy League recognition last season. She led the team and finished sixth in the league with 13.4 points per game. She led the league in field goal percentage (.508) and was ninth in rebounding (6.9 per game).

Berkowitz is a history of science, medicine and public health major in Saybrook College. She graduated from The Rivers School.

 

BARAHMAN MAKING UP FOR LOST TIME

Sophomore guard Roxy Barahman (Calabasas, Calif.) has been making up for lost time this season. Barahman was limited to 17 games (one start) last season, but is one of three Bulldogs averaging 30.0 minutes or more per game this season and has made nine starts. She is second on the team in assists (3.1 per game, 10th in the Ivy League), is second in steals (2.3 per game, sixth in the Ivy League) and is third in rebounds (4.6 per game).

Barahman set a career high with six assists in the win at TCU Nov. 21, and set a career high with 11 rebounds in the win vs. Colgate Nov. 13. She scored a career-high 24 points at Binghamton Dec. 2.

Barahman is in Davenport College and is a graduate of Oaks Christian.

 

GORMAN ON THE BOARDS

Sophomore forward Megan Gorman (Vero Beach, Fla.) remains one of Yale's most consistent rebounding presences. She is second on the team in rebounding this year (4.9 per game) after finishing third last year (5.1 per game). She has had at least four rebounds in eight of 11 games this season, and had a season-high eight rebounds in the win at Binghamton. Her career high in rebounds is 15, set Jan. 27, 2017, against Brown.

Gorman is in Trumbull College and is a graduate of Vero Beach High School.

 

ANDREWS SOLIDIFIES STARTING SPOT

First-year forward Ellen Margaret Andrews (Dallas, Texas) earned her first career start when the Bulldogs played at TCU, near her hometown of Dallas, on Nov. 21. She wound up with a season-high nine rebounds in that game. She has now started eight straight games.

Andrews scored a season-high 14 points in the 75-62 win at Central Connecticut State Dec. 9, shooting 6-for-12 (.500). She has scored double-digit points in three straight games, and has shot 50 percent or better from the field in four straight games. Her .762 free-throw percentage is best on the team among those with 20 or more attempts.

Andrews is in Berkeley College and is a graduate of Greenhill School.

 

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE

Yale has developed quite a home court advantage in recent years. Since the start of the 2014-15 season the Bulldogs have gone 27-16 (.628) at John J. Lee Amphitheater. Here is a look at the team's home record in the past five+ seasons:

2012-13: 6-7 (.462)
2013-14: 7-6 (.538)
2014-15: 8-4 (.667)
2015-16: 10-5 (.667)
2016-17: 7-4 (.636)
2017-18: 2-3 (.400)

 

CLASS OF 2021

Yale welcomes four first years to the roster for the 2017-18 season. All four were captains of their high school teams and bring impressive credentials to New Haven.

The newcomers include a pair of record-setting guards in Ale Aguirre (La Jolla, Calif.) and Tori Andrew (Wayzata, Minn.). Aguirre should be able to stretch opposing defenses: she finished seventh in the nation, second in California and first in San Diego for three-pointers made in a career. She set the national record for three-pointers in a game with 15, earning a mention on ESPN. Andrew is also a threat from deep. A three-time first team all-state selection, she set school career records for scoring, double-doubles and three-pointers made. Her high basketball IQ should enable her to contribute immediately.

The class also includes a pair of forwards. Ellen Margaret Andrews (Dallas, Texas) was the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Large Private Player of the Year as a senior. Her athleticism enabled her to be all-conference in three sports (basketball, track and volleyball), and she was the first player in her school's history to score 1,000 points in a season. Alex Cade (Shaker Heights, Ohio) was a two-time all-state selection and averaged a double-double her senior year (16.7 points, 13.8 rebounds) while adding 4.2 blocks per game.

 

A SEASON TO BUILD ON

The 2016-17 season was one to build on for the Yale women's basketball team. The Bulldogs were on a roll at the end, winning four of their last five games to finish with the team's best win total (15) since 2011-12. Four of the six players who averaged 20 or more minutes per game for Yale in 2016-17 return for 2017-18.

 

ALLISON GUTH, YALE'S JOEL E. SMILOW, CLASS OF 1954 HEAD COACH OF WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

Known as a skilled recruiter throughout her 10-plus years of coaching, Allison Guth was named Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball in May of 2015, returning to the Bulldogs after serving as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator from 2010 to 2012. Guth is the 10th head coach in the history of the women's basketball program, which dates to the 1973-74 season.

The team has made steady progress under Guth, whose staff includes assistants Melissa D'Amico, Roman Owen and Jacinda Dunbar -- all also in their third season with Yale. The Bulldogs have improved their win total from season to season in each of the past two years. Last season they finished with their best win total (15) since 2011-12.

Prior to being named Yale's head coach, Guth spent three seasons at Northwestern as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, helping turn the women's basketball team into a national power. In her final season, the Wildcats went 23-9 (12-6 Big Ten) and qualified for an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time since 1997.

During her first stint in New Haven, Guth was instrumental in Yale's resurgence as a contender for the Ivy League championship and helped guide the Bulldogs to their best two-year record in 18 years and the most Ivy League wins in a two-year span (18; 10-4 in 2010-11, 8-6 in 2011-12) in the program's history. Guth previously served as an assistant coach at DePaul, Missouri and Loyola-Chicago.

Guth, who led Buffalo Grove (Illinois) High School to the 2000 Class AA State title, and her high school teammates were inducted into the Illinois Coaches Basketball Association Hall of Fame in April of 2013.

A three-time letter winner at Illinois, Guth helped the Illini reach the 2003 NCAA Tournament after earning a spot as a walk-on and then earning a scholarship. An Academic All-Big Ten selection, Guth also played a season with the Illinois women's golf team before graduating in 2004. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business before getting her Master's degree in educational leadership from DePaul in 2010.

 

ROSTER ADDITION

Yale recently made a special addition to its roster thanks to Team IMPACT, an organization that pairs college teams and children who have serious illnesses. The newest Bulldog is Selam Olson, an 11-year-old from New Haven. She was diagnosed with an immune disorder at birth. Selam joined the Yale team shortly before the season opener and was formally introduced at a press conference on Dec. 8. More about her story is available by clicking here.

 

SCOUTING UC DAVIS

UC Davis (9-2, 0-0 Big West) has dropped two in a row since starting the season 9-0, but the Aggies remain one of the toughest teams on Yale's schedule. Currently ranked No. 58 in RPI, they are one of two teams in the top 60 that the Bulldogs are scheduled to face this year (Princeton, currently No. 21, is the other). The Aggies are among the top 20 nationally in assists per game (19.1), defensive rebounds per game (30) and three-point field-goal percentage (40.1).

Six-foot-four forward Morgan Bertsch, a first All-Big West selection last year, leads UC Davis in scoring (21.2 points per game) and is shooting 55.1 percent from the field. Forwards Pele Gianotti (6.0 rebounds per game) and Cierra Hall (5.2) give the Aggies a strong presence on the boards. Guard Kourtney Eaton leads the team in assists, averaging 5.5 per game. Her twin, guard/forward Karley Eaton, is averaging 2.5 assists per game.

Head coach Jennifer Gross is in her seventh season, and is a 1997 UC Davis graduate. She was the 2017 Big West Coach of the Year after leading the team to 25 wins and the Sweet 16 of the WNIT.

 

SCOUTING FORDHAM

Fordham (7-4, 0-0 Atlantic 10), which plays Hartford on Thursday at 1:00 p.m., has won three of its last four games -- including a 67-64 double-overtime win against cross-town rivals St. John's. The Rams are 5-1 at home, and feature one of the top defenses in the country. They are allowing just 54.7 points per game, and have held four opponents under the 50-point mark.

Forward G'mrice Davis leads the team in scoring (14.7 points per game) and rebounding (13.4 rebounds per game). She has eight double-doubles so far this season. Forward Mary Goulding leads the team in assists (2.8 per game).

Head coach Stephanie Gaitley has led Fordham to four postseason appearances in her first six years, including an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2014 and WNIT appearances in 2013, 2015 and 2017. In addition to the U.S., the team's roster features players from Fiji, Germany, Latvia and New Zealand.

 

SCOUTING HARTFORD

Hartford (7-4, 0-0 America East) brings a four-game winning streak into the Fordham Holiday Classic, winning those games by an average margin of nearly 14 points. The Hawks have four players averaging in double-digits, led by guard Lindsey Abed (12.4 points per game). She also leads the team in assists (3.8 per game) and is second in rebounds (4.7 per game). Forward Janelle Harrison leads the team in rebounds (7.3 per game).

Kim McNeill is in her second season as Hartford's head coach, having led the team to its winningest season since 2012-13 last year. The Hawks were fifth in the nation in steals per game last year, and are 15th this year (12.4).

 

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity

 

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