Sacred Heart Hosts Bulldogs in Battle of Nutmeg State Rivals

Alicia Seelaus. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale women’s basketball team will return from a week-long hiatus on Monday evening looking to snap a two-game losing streak in Fairfield, Conn. against the Pioneers from Sacred Heart University. The Bulldogs enter the contest with a record of 4-5.

Last Time Out
The Bulldogs entered halftime tied at Quinnipiac on Monday evening, but ultimately fell to the host Bobcats by a score of 75-59. Junior Yoyo Greenfield led all players with a season-best 17 points for Yale. Greenfield, who knocked down three three-pointers on the night, was joined in double figures by senior Melissa Colborne and freshman Megan Vasquez. With her 14 points, Colborne moves into sole possession of seventh place on Yale’s all-time scoring list with 1,267 career points. The Calgary, Alberta native passes her former teammate, Erica Davis ’07, who graduated with 1,262 points in her illustrious Yale career. Vasquez netted an even 10 points. Junior Mady Gobrecht and sophomore Michelle Cashen were a force on the glass, grabbing 13 and 10 boards respectively. Gobrecht’s baker’s dozen of rebounds matched her career high. The junior also scored eight points, while Cashen added five. The Yale offensive was rounded out by freshman Allie Messimer’s five points.

Points at a Premium
In five of nine 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 Sacred Heart
The Sacred Heart Pioneers won at Binghamton on Dec. 21, their fourth victory in a row, to improve to 7-3 on the season. Callan Taylor leads Sacred Heart, nearly averaging a double-double with team highs of 15.9 points and 9.0 rebounds per contest. In total, four players average over 10 points per game for a Pioneers’ squad shooting 44.4% from the field and 45.7% from three-point range. Unlike the balance of the Yale attack, four of Sacred Heart’s starters average 32.6 or more minutes per game.

Series History
Yale has dropped eight straight games to the Pioneers, who hold a 9-3 edge in the all-time series. The Bulldogs’ last win against Sacred Heart came on Nov. 25, 1979 as a part of the Yale Tip-Off Invitational. Yale, which has never won at Sacred Heart, last played the Pioneers on Nov. 25, 2006, falling to Pioneers by a score of 72-66 in New Haven.

Leading the Way
Two-time All-Ivy honoree Melissa Colborne is once again Yale’s offensive pacesetter in 2009-10 with 10.7 points per game. The senior, who ranked second in the Ivy League in scoring in each of the last two seasons, currently ranks seventh in Yale history with 1,267 career 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 (437) and in a game without a miss (12-for-12), as well as for free throw attempts in a career (551). Her career free throw percentage of .765 is fifth-best in Yale history.

Cold Weather = Hot Streak
Junior forward Mady Gobrecht has averaged 12.6 and 9.2 rebounds per game over the Bulldogs’ last five contests. Gobrecht is shooting 50% (25-for-50) from the floor over that streak, and has also chipped in with 13 assists, seven blocks and eight steals in 29.4 minutes per game. The junior highlighted her outstanding play 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 (7.1 ppg) and is the Bulldogs’ top rebounder with 7.8 boards per contest. The sophomore has also tallied two double-doubles in 2009-10.

Spreading the Wealth
Yale active roster boasts five players averaging at least 7.1 points per game, led by 10.7 per contest from Melissa Colborne. The Bulldogs, who have seven players averaging over 20 minutes per game, have had five different players lead them in scoring and four different players lead the way in rebounding through nine 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).

Big XII Bound
The Bulldogs will ring in 2010 against a pair of Big XII opponents. Yale’s first stop in Manhattan, Kansas for a Jan. 2 contest at Kansas State at 3 p.m. EST. The Bulldogs will then trek to Boulder for 9 p.m. EST showdown at Colorado on Jan. 4. Yale is currently in the midst of seven-game road swing.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity