Bulldogs Open Ivy Play at Brown on Friday

Ericka von Kaeppler. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. –
With 13 non-conference games gone in the 2009-10 season, the Yale women’s basketball team begins its ‘season within a season’ on Friday, kicking off the Ivy League slate at Brown University. The Bulldogs (5-8) have taken three of their last four meetings with the Bears, who enter league play at 3-11, including a 71-37 thrashing in Providence last season. Action from Pizzitola Sports Center tips off at 7 p.m.

Last Time Out
Junior Mady Gobrecht led three Yale players scoring in double figures with 16 points to guide the Bulldogs to a 68-58 victory at the New Jersey Institute of Technology on Saturday afternoon in Newark, N.J. Yale, which got 13 points from senior Melissa Colborne and 12 from freshman Megan Vasquez, snapped a five-game losing streak and downed the Highlanders for the second consecutive season. Senior Haywood Wright hauled in a game-best 10 rebounds.

Who’s Going to Feed Handsome Dan?
Friday’s contest at Brown marks the sixth 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 visits New Haven to complete the home-and-home Ivy League season series. The Bulldogs also went 33 days without a home game last season, a stretch spanning six games from Nov. 18 to Dec. 21, 2008.

Scouting Brown
The Brown University Bears, losers of their last five games, enter the Ivy League portion of their schedule with a record of 3-11. The Bears, who have notched a pair of overtime wins, have not won a game in regulation since downing Central Connecticut State, 62-59, on Nov. 21. Christina Johnson is Brown’s leading scorer and rebounder with 9.5 points and 4.6 boards per game in 2009-10. Hannah Passafuime has chipped in 9.1 points per contest while leading the Bears from beyond the arc with 22 three-pointers on 61 attempts (36.1%). The Bears and Bulldogs both hosted Boston University in the non-conference season. The Terriers bested Brown, 87-58, and lost to Yale in New Haven by a 61-57 tally.

Series History
Brown holds a 42-26 lead in the all-time series, though Yale has won three of the last four meetings and two straight at the Pizzitola Center. Last season, the Bears snuck past the Bulldogs in New Haven, 64-62, in the Ivy League opener. One week later in Providence, Yale responded by handing Brown a 71-37 thrashing.

Doing It With Defense
In all five 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. Most recently, NJIT managed 58 points in a 10-point Yale road win on Jan. 9. UC Davis also tallied just 60 points against Yale on Dec. 19, though the Aggies bested the Bulldogs by a score of 60-55.

Block Party
Junior Mady Gobrecht blocked a career-best six shots in the Bulldogs’ 68-58 win at NJIT on Jan. 9. Gobrecht, who ranks third in the Ivy League with 1.4 blocked shots per game, accounted for the most blocks by a Yale player since Erica Davis ’07 turned back seven Sacred Heart offerings on Nov. 25, 2006.

Starting Strong
Freshman Megan Vasquez, who leads Yale with 10.8 points per game, has tallied double-figure points in her last seven 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 12th 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 7.8 boards per contest, slotting her at fourth in the Ivy League on the glass. 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 9.2 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 1,290 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 (444) and in a game without a miss (12-for-12), as well as for free throw attempts in a career (582). 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 10 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. Yale does have four players ranked among the league’s top 20 scorers, led by 10.8 points per game from freshman Megan Vasquez. The Bulldogs, who have 10 active players playing at least 10 minutes per game, have had five different players lead them in scoring and five 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 NCAA Second Round participant 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 teams from nine different conferences: America East, Big 12, Big West, Great West, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern Athletic, 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).

Ocean State Sequel
Yale will return to Rhode Island on Monday, Jan. 18 to wrap up their 2009-10 non-conference schedule against the Bryant Bulldogs. Tip-off from the Elizabeth and Malcolm Chace Wellness and Athletic Center in Smithfield, R.I. is slated for 2 p.m.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity

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