Bulldogs Trek to NJIT for Final Ivy Tune-Up

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

Complete Game Notes in PDF

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – After strong showings at Big 12 opponents Kansas State and Colorado came up short this past week, the Yale women’s basketball team returns to the Northeast on Saturday, looking to enter Ivy League play on a high note with a win at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. The Bulldogs’ final game prior to the start of Ancient Eight play tips off at 2 p.m. from the Estelle and Zoom Fleisher Athletic Center in Newark N.J. Yale, currently in the midst of a seven-game road trip, enters the contest with a record of 4-8.

Last Time Out
Just as they had done two days earlier at Kansas State, the Bulldogs jumped out to an early lead at Colorado on Jan. 4. However, Yale’s valiant effort once again fell just short as the Buffaloes escaped an upset by a score of 78-71. Sophomore Michelle Cashen paced Yale with 18 points and 11 rebounds to register her third double-double of the season. Cashen’s scoring output came on a stellar 9-for-10 shooting effort from the floor. Junior Mady Gobrecht joined her in double figures with 14 points, and freshman Megan Vasquez added 10. Senior captain Ashley Carter hauled in nine rebounds as the Bulldogs bested their opponents on the glass by a 45-35 margin. Senior Melissa Colborne complimented her five points with a team-high four assists.

Who’s Going to Feed Handsome Dan?
Saturday’s contest at NJIT marks the fifth of seven consecutive games away from the familiar confines of the John J. Lee Amphitheater for the Bulldogs. Yale’s 33-day hiatus from action in the Elm City, which will span five states and three time zones, comes to an end on Jan. 22 when Brown University visits New Haven for the Bulldogs’ Ivy League home opener.

Scouting NJIT
The New Jersey Institute of Technology, currently in its first season as a completely reclassified Division I program, enters Saturday with a record of 5-8 after consecutive wins over Central Connecticut State and Fairleigh Dickinson. The Highlanders, 4-2 at home in 2009-10, are led by 15.0 points per game from Jessica Gerald. Taiwo Oyelola is scoring just short of double figures with 9.4 points per contest while leading NJIT on the boards with 6.5 rebounds per game. The Highlanders are shooting 33.1% from the field while converting fewer than one-quarter (24.6%) of their attempts from three-point range.

Series History
Yale hosted and defeated NJIT, 74-66, last season in the inaugural meeting between the two programs. The Highlanders’ Jessica Gerald led all players with 20 points, while Melissa Colborne, Jamie Van Horne ’09 and Kaitlyn Lillemoe ’09 each scored 12 points to pace the Bulldogs in the victory. Yoyo Greenfield was the fourth Yale player in double figures with 10 points and a career-best six assists. Colborne and Mady Gobrecht each grabbed eight boards as the Bulldogs outrebounded NJIT, 36-31. Five current Yale players appeared in that contest, including four starters, while the Highlanders’ returns six players who took the court at the John J. Lee Amphitheater last season.

Doing It With Defense
In all four of their victories this season, 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. UC Davis also managed just 60 points against Yale on Dec. 19, though the Aggies bested the Bulldogs by a score of 60-55.

Starting Strong
Freshman Megan Vasquez, who leads Yale with 10.8 points per game, has tallied double-figure points in her last six contests, averaging 12.5 points per game during that stretch. Vasquez was named Ivy League Freshman of the Week after averaging 16.0 points in road contests against Sacred Heart and Kansas State, two teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season. She ranks 13th in the Ivy League in overall scoring and third among all Ancient Eight freshmen.

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 8.0 points per game (8.2 ppg) and is the Bulldogs’ top rebounder with 7.9 boards per contest in 28.1 minutes of action per game. The sophomore has tallied three 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 8.8 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 1,277 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 (441) and in a game without a miss (12-for-12), as well as for free throw attempts in a career (578). Her career free throw percentage of .763 is among the best in Yale history.

Spreading the Wealth
Though no Yale player ranks among the top 12 scorers in the Ivy League, the Bulldogs’ boast the only active roster in the Ancient Eight with five players averaging over 8.0 points per game. The Bulldogs, who have 10 active players playing at least 10 minutes per game, have had five different players lead them in scoring and four different players lead the way in rebounding this season.

Schedule Strength
The 2009-10 Yale squad has challenged 2008-09 NCAA Regional Finalist Arizona State (L, 82-46) and Big 12 foe Kansas State (L, 78-59) 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.

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.

A Sign of Things to Come
With 15 points in the season-opening win against Holy Cross on Nov. 13, Megan 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.

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 nine 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.

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).

The Main Event
The Bulldogs open the 2009-10 Ivy League slate on Friday evening at Brown. Tip-off from Pizzitola Memorial Sports Center in Providence, R.I. is slated for 7 p.m.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity