Bulldogs Head to Quinnipiac for Elm City Showdown

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. – There may be a road game on the schedule, but the Yale women’s basketball team will only be traveling a scant nine miles from the familiar confines of Payne Whitney Gymnasium on Monday evening. The Bulldogs’ destination is the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, home of the Quinnipiac Bobcats. Yale and Quinnipiac, meeting for the 12th consecutive season, will clash at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs enter the contest with an even 4-4 record.

Last Time Out
Despite a game-best 16 points from junior Mady Gobrecht to lead three Yale players in double-figures, the Bulldogs’ fell to UC Davis at the John J. Lee Amphitheater in New Haven on Saturday by a score of 60-55. Junior Yoyo Greenfield netted 11 points for Yale, and freshman Megan Vasquez netted 10 points and pulled down a career-best seven rebounds in her first career start. Sophomore Michelle Cashen hauled in a game-high nine rebounds as the Bulldogs outrebounded UC Davis, 41-28. Gobrecht hauled in eight rebounds and swatted three shots for Yale, which rejected 10 Aggies’ offering in the contest. Another positive sign for Yale was the return of senior Haywood Wright, who saw her first action in 10 months after missing the end of the 2008-09 season with a knee injury. Wright scored four points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots in 17 minutes of work off of the Yale bench.

Points at a Premium
In five of eight games this season, including all four of their victories, the Bulldogs have held their opponents to just 60 points or fewer. Yale surrendered less than 20 points in the first half of wins against Army (15) and Bucknell (19), while holding Boston University to 22 first-half points and limiting Holy Cross to only 21 points in the second half of a comeback victory.

Scouting Quinnipiac
The Quinnipiac Bobcats defeated Maine on Dec. 12 to improve their record to 3-5 in the 2009-10 campaign. The Bobcats, who are 2-2 at the TD Bank Sports Center, are led offensively by 12.4 points per game from Courtney Kaminski. Kaminski has also crashed the boards to the tune of a team-best 6.9 rebounds per contest. Quinnipiac Head Coach Tricia (Sacca) Fabbri played and later served as an assistant coach at Fairfield University under current Yale Associate Head Coach Dianne Nolan. Additionally, Yale Assistant Coach Queen (Edwards) Smith ranks second in Quinnipiac history in career steals and assists.

Series History
2009-10 marks the 14th all-time meeting between the Bulldogs and Bobcats and the 12th consecutive season that the two programs have met. Yale won last season’s meeting in overtime, 77-73, to bring the series to 7-6 all-time in favor of the Bobcats. The home team has claimed victory in each of the last four encounters.

Leading the Way
Two-time All-Ivy honoree Melissa Colborne is once again Yale’s offensive pacesetter in 2009-10 with 10.3 points per game. The senior, who ranked second in the Ivy League in scoring in each of the last two seasons, currently ranks eighth in Yale history with 1,253 career points. Colborne is nine points away from the seventh slot on the list, held by Erica Davis ’07 (1,262 points) and 118 points shy of the all-time top five (Lisa Brummel ’81, 1,371 points). The former Ivy League Rookie of the Year has already eclipsed the Yale program records for free throws made in a game (14), a season (156), a career (433) and in a game without a miss (12-for-12), as well as for free throw attempts in a career (566). Her career free throw percentage of .765 is fifth-best in Yale history.

Cold Weather = Hot Streak
Junior forward Mady Gobrecht has averaged 13.8 and 8.3 rebounds per game over the Bulldogs’ last four contests. Gobrecht is shooting 52.4% (22-for-42) from the floor over that streak, and has also chipped in with 10 assists, seven blocks and seven steals in 29.0 minutes per game. The junior highlighted her torrid scoring streak with a career-best 18 points in the win over Boston University on Dec. 9.

No Sophomore Slump
Sophomore Michelle Cashen, a 2008-09 All-Ivy Rookie Team selection, has been one of the Bulldogs’ most consistent players this season. Cashen is currently one of five Yale players averaging over 7.0 points per game (7.4 ppg) and is the Bulldogs’ top rebounder with 7.5 boards per contest. The sophomore has also played a team-best 28.4 minutes per game and has tallied two double-doubles in 2009-10.

Spreading the Wealth
Yale active roster boasts five players averaging at least 7.4 points per game, led by 10.3 per contest from Melissa Colborne. The Bulldogs, who have seven players averaging over 20 minutes per game, have had four different players lead them in scoring and four different players lead the way in rebounding through eight games this season.

Picking on the Patriot
The Bulldogs went 3-0 against Patriot League foes this season, besting Holy Cross, Army and Bucknell. Yale was 1-2 against the same trio of opponents last season, posting a win at Holy Cross while dropping one-possession decisions to both the Bison (73-70) and Black Knights (62-60).

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 Nov. 13. 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 Nov. 13. 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.

Nice to Meet You
The UC Davis Aggies were Yale’s third of four first-time opponents on the non-conference slate this season. An upcoming game at Colorado will also be a first-time meeting. Both of Yale’s opponents at the Holiday Inn & Suites Express Midtown Thanksgiving Tournament, Toledo and North Carolina A&T, were first-time challengers for the Bulldogs.

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 Fairfield.

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
The Bulldogs’ 14 non-conference games will feature 10 different conferences (America East, Big XII, Big West, 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).

Another Intra-State Affair
After a week-long Holiday recess, the Bulldogs will play another Connecticut road game on Dec. 28 at Sacred Heart. Tip-off from the William H. Pitt Center in Fairfield is slated for 7 p.m.

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report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity