Bulldogs Head to New Mexico for Holiday Tournament Action

Allie Messimer. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Allie Messimer. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - After opening the 2009-10 season with a 2-1 mark on a three-game homestand, the Yale women’s basketball team heads west to Albuquerque, N.M. for a pair of contests at the Holiday Inn & Suites Express Albuquerque Midtown Thanksgiving Tournament. The Bulldogs will challenge Toledo (3-2) on Friday, Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. EST and will wrap up the tournament against either North Carolina A&T (1-2) or host New Mexico (3-1) on Saturday at either 7 p.m. (consolation) or 9 p.m. (championship) EST.

Last Time Out
The Bulldogs put forth a solid effort on the defensive end, but were dominated on the boards by then-No. 7/14 Arizona State en route to falling to the Sun Devils by a score of 82-46. Freshman Megan Vasquez led Yale offensively with eight points.

No Sophomore Slump
Sophomore Michelle Cashen currently leads the Bulldogs in points (9.7 ppg) and rebounds (10.0 rpg). Cashen, a 2008-09 All-Ivy Rookie Team honoree, has posted double-doubles in two of Yale’s three contests this season.

Spreading the Wealth
Nine different Bulldogs are currently logging at least 11.0 minutes per game, led by sophomore Michelle Cashen with 28.7 minutes per contest. Yale’s roster boasts seven players scoring 5.0 points per game or better and six players averaging over 4.0 rebounds per game.

Climbing the Ladder
Two-time All-Ivy honoree Melissa Colborne currently ranks eighth in Yale history with 1,198 career points. Colborne is 64 points away from the seventh slot on the list and 173 points shy of the all-time top five (Lisa Brummel ’81, 1,371). In 2008-09, Colborne eclipsed the program records for free throws made in a game (14), a season (156), a career (415) and in a game without a miss (12-for-12). Her career free throw percentage of .770 (415-539) is fifth-best in Yale history.

On Lockdown
The Bulldogs surrendered just 42 points in the Nov. 17 victory over Army, including only 15 points allowed over the first 20 minutes en route to building a 37-15 halftime lead. The Black Knights’ offense had averaged 61 points in the squad’s first two games this season.

Double Double-Doubles
Sophomore Michelle Cashen (13 pts., 15 rebs.) and junior Mady Gobrecht (12 pts., 10 rebs.) both posted double-doubles in the Bulldogs’ season-opening victory over Holy Cross on Friday. The last time two Yale players had double-doubles in the same game was on Jan. 13, 2007, when Erica Davis ’07 (21 pts., 11 rebs.) and Chinenye Okafor ’07 (10 pts., 13 rebs.) each performed the feat against Brown.

Starting Strong
Freshman Megan Vasquez led all Bulldogs with 15 points in her collegiate debut against Holy Cross on Friday night. Vasquez, who scored six points during a 13-0 run in the second-half that cut the Crusaders’ lead from 17 to 4 and later iced the game with four free throws in the final 24 seconds, shot 4-for-14 from the field and 7-for-8 from the charity stripe in the contest. She is the first freshman to lead Yale in scoring in her collegiate debut since Kaitlyn Lillemoe ’09 scored a team-best 19 points against New Hampshire to open the 2005-06 season.

Familiar Faces
The Bulldogs return four starters and eight letterwinners in total from the 2008-09 campaign. In addition, Yale expects to return junior Lindsey Williams, a unanimous 2007-08 All-Ivy Rookie Team selection who missed the entirety of last season due to injury, in time for the Ivy League slate.

Room for Six More
Yale has reloaded its lineup for 2009-10 with six freshmen expected to make an immediate impact for the Bulldogs. Guards Allie Messimer, Megan Vasquez and Aarica West and forwards Alicia Seelaus, Ericka von Kaeppler and Emily Wanger comprise the nationally-recognized Yale Class of 2013.

Scouting Toledo
After losing at Texas-El Paso on Tuesday to snap a three-game winning streak, the Toledo Rockets enter this weekend at 3-2.

Series History
Friday will mark the first meeting between Yale and Toledo.

Scouting North Carolina A&T
The defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament Champions and 2009 NCAA Tournament participants, the Aggies from North Carolina A&T have opened 2009-10 at 1-2 following a three-game stint at the Preseason WNIT. North Carolina A&T has been led by 19.3 points per game from Ta’Wuana Cook, who is shooting 12-for-26 (.462) from three-point range in three contests. Lamona Smalley is the Aggies’ leading rebounder with 8.0 per game and averages 13.5 points per contest as well. North Carolina A&T lost a pair of road games to Marist and Towson in the WNIT, with a neutral site victory over Chicago State in the middle.

Series History
A possible encounter on Saturday would be the first-ever between Yale and the Aggies.

Scouting New Mexico
The host Lobos, out of the Mountain West Conference, breezed past Northern Arizona on Tuesday, 72-40, to improve to 3-1 on the season. With 14.8 points per game, Amy Beggins leads three Lobos averaging double figures in scoring. Sara Halasz is averaging 10.8 points and a team-best 5.8 rebounds per contest, and Lauren Taylor, in addition leading the Lobos in assists, has posted an even 10.0 points per game. New Mexico, which is yet to play outside of The Pit in 2009-10, downed Northern Colorado and Florida Gulf Coast in preseason WNIT action before dropping its third round game to Oklahoma State.

Series History
The Bulldogs are 0-1 on the hardwood against New Mexico. The Lobos downed Yale, 71-70, on Jan. 4, 1987 at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.

Branches on the Coaching Tree
Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women’s Basketball at Yale, was very familiar with her counterparts on the Arizona State bench on Nov. 19. Charli Turner Thorne, the head coach of the Sun Devils, was an assistant on Gobrecht’s staff at the University of Washington. Prior to the Sun Devils’ postseason matchup with Connecticut, the New Haven Register cited that Thorne “still teaches the defensive principles she first learned from [Gobrecht]”. In addition, Arizona State Associate Head Coach Meg (Gallagher) Sanders played collegiately on Gobrecht’s Cal State Fullerton squad from 1982-85.

That’s a Lot of W’s
With 460 wins in her career entering 2009-10, Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women’s Basketball at Yale ranks 30th among active Division I coaches in all-time victories. Among coaches on Yale’s 2009-10 schedule, only Bill Gibbons of Holy Cross (476 wins) has more career victories than Gobrecht. Gobrecht and Gibbons are both topped, however, by another coach from the Yale sidelines: Associate Head Coach Dianne Nolan, who amassed 517 wins as head coach of St. Francis (N.Y.) and Fairfeld.

Nice to Meet You
Non-conference games against Toledo, North Carolina A&T (possible opponent), UC Davis and Colorado will all be first-time meetings.

Schedule Strength
Five teams on the Bulldogs’ slate participated in the 2009 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. Dartmouth, Sacred Heart and North Carolina A&T all received automatic bids as conference champions and lost in the first round to higher-seeded opponents. Kansas State advanced to the second round as a No. 5 seed, and No. 6-seeded Arizona State’s season ended in the Regional Finals (Elite Eight) at the hands of the eventual national champion, Connecticut.

Making the Rounds
Including possible opponents, the Bulldogs’ 14 non-conference games could feature as many as 10 different conferences (Big XII, Big West, Colonial, Great West, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern Athletic, Mountain West, Northeast, Pac-10, Patriot) as well a Division I independent (Bryant).

Top Dogs
Though there are 32 American universities with the “Bulldogs” mascot, last season’s win over Bryant marked just the second time that Yale women’s basketball had met another team sporting the “Bulldogs” moniker. The 2003-04 Yale Bulldogs dropped a 69-48 decision to the Gonzaga Bulldogs on Nov. 29, 2003 as a part of the Seattle Times Classic.

The Bulldogs in 2008-09
Shorthanded for much of the Ivy League season, Yale went 4-10 in Ancient Eight play in 2008-09 and 11-17 overall. Melissa Colborne earned a spot on the All-Ivy Second Team, and Michelle Cashen punctuated her freshman season with a selection to the All-Ivy Rookie Team. With a healthy roster in the pre-Ivy League season of 2008-09, Yale defeated North Carolina State- the program’s first-ever win over an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent- and was tied with Southeastern Conference foe Kentucky with 15 seconds remaining in the contest.

Every Day is Mother’s Day
Junior forward Mady Gobrecht is the daughter of head coach Chris Gobrecht. They are one of two active mother-daughter, coach-player tandems in Division I women’s basketball (Southern Mississippi: Coach Joye Lee-McNelis and Whitney McNelis). This is the sixth time in Yale’s 156-year athletic history that a head coach is mentoring his or her child in a varsity sport, and the first where the combo is mother-daughter (men’s fencing: Robert & Maurice Grasson, 1936-38; baseball: Smoky Joe & Joseph Wood, 1939-41; men’s basketball: Howard & David Hobson, 1952-55; men’s squash: John & Jack Skillman, 1954-55; football: Jordan & Harry Olivar, 1957-59).

Bison on the Horizon
The Bulldogs will be back in action on Dec. 5, as they travel to Bucknell for a non-conference tilt. Yale returns to the John J. Lee Amphitheater in New Haven on Dec. 9 to play host to Boston University at 5:30 p.m.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity