Bulldogs Outlast Defending Champ Dartmouth, 70-66, in Double Overtime

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

HANOVER, N.H. – Forty minutes weren’t enough to decide Saturday’s Ivy League clash between the Yale women’s basketball team and defending Ivy League Champion Dartmouth, as the two squads played a pair of overtime periods at Leede Arena in Hanover, N.H. When the final buzzer sounded in the second extra frame, it was the Bulldogs knocking off the reigning Ancient Eight champs, 70-66, behind a team-high 19 points from freshman Megan Vasquez. Sophomore Michelle Cashen had 13 points, including the jumper that proved to be the difference, and ripped down nine rebounds.

“Dartmouth is a tough team, especially on the defensive end,” said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women’s Basketball at Yale. “They rebound well, play great defense and never beat themselves with turnovers and bad shots. It takes a great deal of toughness and offensive poise to beat them, and we had that tonight.”

With the win, Yale improves to 5-3 in the Ivy League and 10-12 overall. With five Ivy League victories, the Bulldogs have already bested last season’s Ancient Eight win total. Dartmouth falls to 4-3 in league play and 9-12 on the season.

The Bulldogs’ last multiple overtime game was a 94-92, triple overtime loss to Princeton nearly seven years ago to the day, Feb. 15, 2003. Yale last defeated the defending Ivy League champion on its home court Feb. 19, 2004, downing Penn at the Palestra, also in overtime, 74-64. The Bulldogs have won their last five overtime games.

Vasquez’s 19 points, which matches her career high, came on 7-for-18 shooting from the field, including a pair of three-pointers. Junior Yoyo Greenfield and freshman Allie Messimer tallied eight points apiece, with four of Greenfield’s tallies coming in the overtime periods. Junior Mady Gobrecht had seven points and a team-best 10 rebounds, and freshman Alicia Seelaus notched six points and seven boards. Seniors Melissa Colborne and Haywood Wright each had three points, while freshman Ericka von Kaeppler had two. Senior captain Ashley Carter rounded out Yale’s offensive effort with one point.

Reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Brittney Smith posted a double-double for Big Green with 19 points and 10 boards. Her sister, Margaret Smith, scored nine points with 10 rebounds, and Sasha Dosenko pulled down a game-best 13 rebounds. Faziah Steen and Betsy Williams also reached double figures for Dartmouth with 13 points apiece.

The Yale defense started out strong, holding Big Green without a field goal for the first 4:55 of the game, but the Bulldogs would only net a pair of buckets themselves en route to grabbing an early 4-1 edge. The home team would bounce back to knot the score at 6-6, but Yale responded in a big way with an 11-2 run, punctuated by a Messimer three-pointer, to grab a 17-8 advantage and force a Dartmouth timeout. The Bulldogs extended the lead to double-figures after the stoppage before Big Green responded with the next six points to trim the advantage down the four points at 18-14. From that point, the Yale’s defense once again kept Dartmouth without a field goal for an extended stretch of nearly five minutes, putting together an 8-2 run in the process to reclaim a 10-point edge. The Bulldogs’ offense continued to click as halftime neared, but Big Green finally broke through with a pair of field goals in the final minute as the squads headed to the locker room with Yale holding a six-point lead, 28-22.

Vasquez led all scorers with eight points in the first half, as Yale shot 33.3% (11-33) from the floor in the opening frame. The Bulldogs also shot 16.7% (2-12) from three-point range, with Vasquez and Messimer each connecting from downtown, and 66.7% (4-6) from the free throw line. Cashen had six points and a team-best six boards in the first 20 minutes, with Dartmouth edging Yale on the glass, 24-23. The Bulldogs took better advantage of their work on the glass, converting nine second-chance points to Big Green’s five. Brittney Smith had six points and six rebounds to lead the home team, which shot 24.1% (7-29) from the field, 33.3% (1-3) from beyond the three-point arc and 63.6% (7-11) from the charity stripe. Yale committed nine first half turnovers, which led to seven Dartmouth points, and turned 13 Big Green miscues into eight tallies on the scoreboard.

The squads traded baskets for much of the second half, which was enough for Yale to maintain the six-point advantage it took into the locker room to a score of 52-46 with 4:35 left. Big Green would then sink consecutive buckets to cut the lead to two points, and the Yale edge was soon just one point, 56-55, with 1:12 remaining in the contest. On the ensuing Yale possession, Cashen sank one of two free throws to run the score to 57-55 with just under one minute remaining in the contest. After a Yale timeout, Brittney Smith sank a layup to knot the score for the first time since it was 6-6. The Bulldogs came up empty on their next offensive position, and the battle for the rebound resulted in a held ball, with possession going to Big Green with 7.9 seconds left and the rim 94 feet away. Yale thwarted an attempt at a home run pass, but Dartmouth fell on the loose ball and called timeout with 2.2 ticks remaining in regulation. A Brittney Smith offering from the wing didn’t leave her hand prior to the horn, and the Bulldogs and Big Green both headed to overtime for the first time this season.

Dartmouth struck first in the extra frame with a pair of Margaret Smith free throws to claim a 59-57 edge. Margaret Smith added another tally from the line for Big Green, then Greenfield slashed to the hoop for a lay-in that cut the home team’s edge to one point, 60-59. Brittney Smith would tack another free throw for the home team, but, after a pair of empty trips, Vasquez took a loose ball coast-to-coast to tie the score, 61-61, with 5.3 remaining. Big Green wouldn’t get a shot off in the ensuing possession, and the contest headed to double overtime.

The home team once again kicked off the scoring in the second overtime, as Faziah Steen notched a quick layup off of the opening tip. Yale answered with a Gobrecht layup to tie the game at 63-63, but Sasha Dosenko put Big Green right back on top with a drive to the hoop. After an empty trip each way, Greenfield converted a fastbreak layup to even the score for the fifth time, and then Cashen sank a jumper in the paint to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the extra frames, 67-65. That jump shot proved to be the game-winner, as Yale hit three of four free throws down the stretch to take a 70-66 decision.

The Bulldogs are back in action next weekend as first-place Princeton, as well as Penn, visit the John J. Lee Amphitheater in New Haven. Yale will hold its WBCA Pink Zone event on Saturday against the Quakers, with events beginning at 10 a.m. Tip-off for both contests next weekend is slated for 7 p.m.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity