Big 12 Duo to Host Bulldogs This Weekend

Michelle Cashen. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – While millions will descend upon Manhattan, N.Y. to ring in 2010, the Yale women’s basketball team will welcome the new year in Manhattan, Kansas, as the Bulldogs challenge Big 12 opponent Kansas State on Jan. 2. Action from Bramlage Coliseum in the Little Apple begins at 2 p.m. CST. Yale concludes its Midwest swing in Boulder, Colo. against the Buffaloes on Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. MST.

Last Time Out
Ten different players scored for the Bulldogs, but reigning Northeast Conference Champion Sacred Heart pulled away down the stretch to claim a 76-67 victory on Dec. 28. Freshman Megan Vasquez paced the Yale offense with 14 points, while junior Yoyo Greenfield and sophomore Michelle Cashen joined her in double figures with 12 points apiece.

There’s No Place Like Home
While Kansas may have been home for Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz, the Bulldogs’ trip to the Sunflower State marks the third of seven consecutive games away from the familiar confines of the John J. Lee Amphitheater. Yale’s 33-day, five-state hiatus from action in the Elm City will come to an end on Jan. 22 when Brown University visits New Haven for the Bulldogs’ Ivy League opener.

Scouting Kansas State
The Wildcats from Kansas State, an NCAA Tournament participant in 2008-09, defeated UC Davis on Dec. 29 to improve to 7-6 in the 2009-10 campaign. Winner of its last three contests, Kansas State is led offensively by 18.2 points per game from 2008-09 All-Big 12 first team selection Ashley Sweat. Sweat also leads the Wildcats in rebounding (6.4 rpg), free throw percentage (85.7%) and three-point field goal percentage (51.4%).

Series History
Kansas State won the lone meeting between the two programs, a 75-47 win in the Consolation Game of the DePaul Classic on Nov. 30, 1997. Last season, the Bulldogs avenged their loss to North Carolina State from that tournament with a 65-61 win over the ACC squad.

Schedule Strength
Kansas State is the fourth of five teams on the Bulldogs’ slate that participated in the 2009 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. The Wildcats advanced to the second round of the tournament as a No. 5 seed last season before falling to No. 4 seed Vanderbilt. The 2009-10 Yale squad has previously challenged 2008-09 NCAA Regional Finalist Arizona State (L, 82-46) as well as 2008-09 conference champions Sacred Heart (L, 76-67) and North Carolina A&T (L, 80-79), which needed a buzzer beater to sneak past the Bulldogs on Nov. 28. Ivy League rival Dartmouth, last season’s Ancient Eight champion, will host Yale on Feb. 13 and will visit the John J. Lee Amphitheater on Feb. 26.

Scouting Colorado
The red-hot Colorado Buffaloes enter the weekend with a record of 9-2. Colorado, who downed Grambling State, 92-43, on Wednesday, will host No. 23/21 Virginia on Saturday before welcoming the Bulldogs to the Coors Event Center in Boulder. The Buffaloes, winners of seven of their last eight games, are led by 2008-09 Second Team All-Big 12 player Brittany Spears with 20.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest, and Bianca Smith, who is also scoring in double figures with 14.0 points per game. Colorado is a perfect 8-0 at home this season.

Nice to Meet You

Colorado will be the fourth and final first-time opponent for Yale in 2009-10. UC Davis, Toledo and North Carolina A&T all bested the Bulldogs in first-time meetings earlier this season.

Bulldogs vs. Big 12
The Bulldogs are 0-5 against current members of the Big 12 Conference. Yale has lost to Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, Nebraska and Oklahoma State, though the Bulldogs have not faced a Big 12 squad since the 2003-04 campaign. All five of Yale’s previous encounters with Big 12 teams have come on a neutral court.

Points at a Premium
In half of their 10 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.

Starting Strong
Freshman Megan Vasquez, who leads Yale with 10.1 points per game, has tallied double-figure points in six contests this season and has been the Bulldogs’ leading scorer in three games during her inaugural campaign in the Elm City. With 15 points in the season-opening win against Holy Cross on Nov. 13, Vasquez became 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.

Cold Weather = Hot Streak
Junior forward Mady Gobrecht has averaged 11.5 and 8.2 rebounds per game over the Bulldogs’ last six contests. Gobrecht is shooting 51.9% (28-for-54) from the floor over that streak, and has also chipped in with 16 assists, seven blocks and nine steals in 27.5 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 (7.6 ppg) and is the Bulldogs’ top rebounder with 7.8 boards per contest. The sophomore has also tallied two double-doubles in 2009-10.

Climbing the Ladder
Two-time All-Ivy honoree Melissa Colborne is once again one of Yale’s offensive pacesetters in 2009-10 with 9.8 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 1,269 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 (439) and in a game without a miss (12-for-12), as well as for free throw attempts in a career (573). Her career free throw percentage of .766 is fifth-best in Yale history.

Spreading the Wealth
Though no Yale player ranks among the top 15 scorers in the Ivy League, the Bulldogs’ active roster is one of just two in the Ancient Eight to boast five players averaging over 7.0 points per game. The Bulldogs, who have 10 active players averaging at least 10.9 minutes per game, have had four different players lead them in scoring and four different players lead the way in rebounding through 10 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.

Branches on the Coaching Tree
Chris Gobrecht 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. 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 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.

Making the Rounds
The Bulldogs’ 14 non-conference games will feature 10 different conferences: America East, Big 12, Big West, Great West, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern Athletic, Mountain West, Northeast, Pac-10 and Patriot. Additionally, Bryant is a Division I Independent in its probationary period (ineligible for postseason play) with the Northeast Conference.

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).

Garden State of Mind
Yale returns to the Northeast on Jan. 9 for a contest in Newark, N.J. against the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Tip-off for the Saturday afternoon game with the Highlanders is slated for 2 p.m.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity