Bulldogs Outlast Columbia in Friday Night Nailbiter, 63-61

Jan. 30, 2009

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale women's basketball team has had a flair for the dramatic thus far this season, having played in eight games that were tied within the final three minutes. On Friday night at the John J. Lee Amphitheater in New Haven, the Bulldogs added another nailbiter to their 2008-09 résumé as they edged the visiting Columbia Lions in an Ivy League contest by a score of 63-61. Junior forwards Melissa Colborne and Haywood Wright shared the game high with 17 points apiece.

With the win, Yale moves to 9-8 overall and 2-1 in Ivy League play. The Lions fell to 8-9 on the season at 1-2 in the Ancient Eight.

Freshman forward Michelle Cashen added 10 points for Yale, reaching double figures for the second time in her career. Sophomore forward Mady Gobrecht hauled in a team-best 11 rebounds. Danielle Browne led Columbia with 16 points. Judie Lomax, the second-most prolific rebounder in Division I, ripped down a game-high 18 boards and tallied 14 points for the Lions.

"We expect to play close games with a schedule like this," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball at Yale. "Every game is a battle in the Ivy League."

The game began as a defensive struggle, with the Bulldogs and Lions splitting just 12 total points over the first 5:02 of the contest. At that point, a three-pointer from Columbia's Katrina Cragg sparked an 8-2 run that gave the visitors a 14-8 edge. That six point cushion marked the largest lead either team would hold in the game. Yale eventually broke even with the Lions at 16-16 and then proceeded to score the next five points, punctuated by a three-pointer from senior Jamie Van Horne, to grab a 21-16 advantage. The Lions responded with a run of their own, putting nine consecutive points to take a 25-21 lead with just over one minute remaining in the period. The Bulldogs posted the next four points to tie the score at 25-25 with 11 seconds left, but a second and third effort from Lomax, collecting her own missed layups in the closing seconds, resulted in an eventual buzzer beater for the sophomore that sent Columbia to the locker room leading by a score of 27-25.

Browne led all scorers with seven points in the half. Wright and Colborne headed the Bulldogs' first half scoring with six points apiece. Colborne and Gobrecht led Yale on the glass with four boards each, while Lomax hauled in 11 rebounds for the visitors, including five off of the offensive boards. A 26-18 rebounding advantage for the Lions, as well as a 4-for-6 (66.7%) half behind the three-point arc were the story behind the squad's two-point edge after the first 20 minutes of play.

Columbia opened up another six point lead in the opening minutes of the second half, building a 35-29 cushion at the 15:52 mark. Yale responded with a 9-0 run, capped by a rare three-point attempt for Colborne swished through the net to give the Bulldogs a 38-35 edge. Yale held its lead for the next 3:08, though it never grew larger than four points, until the Lions deadlocked the score for the ninth time at 45-45 with 9:55 remaining in regulation. Columbia would not overtake the Bulldogs in the ensuing spurt of action, though the visitors continued to hang tough, as the score reached its 13th and final stalemate at 59-59 with 2:06 on the clock. Wright netted a layup on the ensuing Yale possession and Gobrecht drew a foul battling for a rebound and knocked down both free throws to give the Bulldogs a bit of breathing room at 63-59 with 13 seconds remaining. That breathing room was short-lived, however, as Cragg drew a foul on a three-point attempt that nearly found the bottom of the net. Cragg sank the first two free throws to close the gap at 63-61, then intentionally missed the third. Wright grabbed the rebound, but the Bulldogs turned the ball over, giving the Lions a final shot to tie or win the game with 1.6 ticks left on the clock. The Yale defense did not allow a clean inbounds pass, and Wright knocked the ball away and collected it for the steal as time expired.

Colborne and Wright each scored 11 of their 17 points after halftime. The Bulldogs played a much more physical second half, netting 12 second-chance points while the Lions would score none. Lomax grabbed seven more rebounds in the second frame, but did not collect any offensive boards. Gobrecht tore down seven boards for Yale in the half and blocked three shots.

The Bulldogs are back in action tomorrow night, as they host the Cornell Big Red at 6 p.m. Cornell enters the game at 2-1 in the Ivy League after knocking off Brown tonight by a score of 74-62.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity


Video by Steven Horn '10, Yale Sports Publicity