First-Place Princeton, Penn Visit New Haven for WBCA Pink Zone Weekend

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

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - With eight games gone in the 2009-10 Ivy League season, this weekend marks the beginning of the second trip around the Ancient Eight for the Yale women’s basketball team. First on the docket for the Bulldogs (10-12, 5-3 Ivy) is first-place Princeton (19-2, 7-0 Ivy) on Friday night, with struggling Penn (1-20, 0-7 Ivy) slated to visit the John J. Lee Amphitheater on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. on both evenings with live coverage available via Yale All-Access. John Song ’11 and Matt Joseph ’12 from WYBC will be on the call on Friday, with Sam Purdy ’10 and Hannah Smith ’10 taking over on Saturday. Yale will host its annual WBCA Pink Zone event on Saturday with events beginning at 10 a.m.

Last Time Out
The Bulldogs fell at perennial rival Harvard, 88-65, on Friday night in Cambridge before bouncing back with a double-overtime victory at defending Ivy League Champion Dartmouth on Saturday. Freshman Megan Vasquez, who played a career-best 41 minutes against Big Green, averaged a team-best 13.5 points per game in the weekend split.

WBCA Pink Zone
The Feb. 20 game against Penn will be the main event of Yale’s all-day WBCA Pink Zone event. The annual fundraiser, formerly known as “Think Pink”, is dedicated to raising awareness and donations for breast cancer research, with this year’s proceeds being donated to the Smilow Cancer Hospital. The festivities, which will take place throughout Payne Whitney Gymnasium, will begin at 10 a.m. on Feb. 20 with a “Battle of the Badges” bench press competition. The Yale gymnastics team will compete at Lee Amphitheater at 1 p.m. against Southern Connecticut and Bridgeport, while the basketball team takes the court against Penn at 7 p.m. The day will also consist of a health fair, a silent auction and many chances to win great prizes and support an important cause.

Scouting Princeton
Unbeaten in Ivy League play at 7-0, the Princeton Tigers are the team to beat in the Ancient Eight this season. Winners of their last 12 games, the Tigers are led by freshman Niveen Rasheed, the second-leading scorer and third-most prolific rebounder in the Ivy League (15.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg). Rasheed is tops among four Princeton players scoring in double figures, joined by Addie Micir (13.4 ppg), Lauren Edwards (12.6 ppg) and Devona Allgood (10.7) in the Ancient Eight’s top 13. Allgood is also ranked fourth in rebounding with 7.9 boards per contest and leads the Ivy League in field goal percentage (.609), and Micir is shooting a league-best .442 from three-point range while connecting on 2.5 treys per game.

Earlier This Season
Junior Yoyo Greenfield scored 11 points and senior Haywood Wright tallied 10 for Yale on Jan. 30, but the host Tigers remained unbeaten in Ivy League play with a 69-48 victory. Senior Melissa Colborne had eight points and a team-best eight rebounds for the Bulldogs, and junior Mady Gobrecht netted nine points and hauled in five boards. Colborne and Gobrecht shared the team high with four assists apiece. Princeton’s Addie Micir led all players with 16 points for Princeton,, and Devona Allgood posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The difference in the game was ball control, as Princeton converted 20 Yale turnovers into 22 points, while the Bulldogs netted just eight points off of 15 Tigers’ miscues.

Scouting Penn
The 1-20 Penn Quakers, winless in seven Ivy League games, have dropped 11 consecutive decisions entering the weekend. Penn, which will play at Brown on Friday, is led by Sarah Bucar’s 8.8 points per contest as well as 6.9 rebounds per game from Jess Knapp. The Quakers have not reached 60 points in a game this season.

Earlier This Season
The Bulldogs held host Penn to just 51 points and outrebounded the Quakers, 35-27, en route to claiming a 58-51 Ivy League road victory at the Palestra on Jan. 29. Freshman Megan Vasquez led Yale offensively with 16 points, and junior Mady Gobrecht put forth a well-rounded effort with seven points, nine rebounds and five assists.

And Counting…

With their fifth Ivy League win of the season on Saturday, the Bulldogs have already eclipsed last year’s Ancient Eight win total with six games still remaining in 2009-10. Yale enters the weekend one win shy of matching its 11-win total from last season.

Overtime Overkill
Saturday’s double-overtime win at Dartmouth was the Bulldogs’ first multiple-overtime game since a 94-92, triple-overtime loss to Princeton on Feb. 15, 2003. The Bulldogs have won their last five overtime games, but had never won a multiple-overtime contest (0-2) prior to Saturday. Yale last defeated the defending Ivy League champion on its home court Feb. 19, 2004, downing Penn at the Palestra, 74-64. That game in Philadelphia also went into overtime.

Earning Extra Credit
Prior to Saturday’s double-overtime win at Dartmouth, Chris Gobrecht’s last multiple-overtime game occurred when she was head coach at the University of Southern California: a 91-79 triple-overtime loss at Washington on Jan. 7, 2001. Her last win in a multiple-overtime contest was a double-overtime victory for her University of Washington squad over Northern Illinois, 101-91, on Nov. 30, 1991. Coach Gobrecht’s 1983-84 Cal State Fullerton team also won a double-overtime game (98-96 vs. BYU, Jan. 14, 1984), rounding out the 30-year Division I head coaching veteran’s career record at 3-1 when a contest goes beyond 45 minutes of action.

Bulldogs Being Offensive
Yale shot over 60% in the first half of the home wins over both Cornell and Columbia. The Bulldogs connected on their first 10 shots from the floor, with the first miss coming on a half-court heave as the shot clock expired, en route to tallying 40 first-half points in a 74-50 rout of Big Red on Feb. 5. The next night against Columbia, Yale scored a season-high 47 points in the opening frame on the heels of 69% (20-29) shooting from the field. The combined 155 points tallied by the two teams are the most scored in an Ivy League game this season. Junior Yoyo Greenfield’s 20 points against Columbia marked a personal career-best as well as the first 20-point performance of the season for a Yale player.

Doing It with Defense
The Bulldogs are 8-2 when holding their opponents to 60 points or fewer. Yale surrendered less than 20 points in the first half of wins against Army (15) and Bucknell (19) and limited Brown to just 19 points in the second half of a 67-43 victory on Jan. 22. Dartmouth also managed just 57 points in regulation against Yale on Feb. 13, but subsequently broke the 60-point barrier in a double-overtime Bulldogs’ victory.

Freshman Phenom
Freshman Megan Vasquez, who leads Yale with 11.7 points per game in 2009-10, earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors for the third time this season after posting 13.5 points and 5.5 assists per game in the sweep of Cornell and Columbia on the weekend of Feb. 5. Thus far in 2009-10, Vasquez has made nine starts in 22 games and averages 26.9 minutes of action per contest. In addition to her team-best scoring output, which slots her third among Ivy League freshmen and 10th in the Ancient Eight overall, she ranks sixth in the league in free throw percentage (.782) and eighth in steals (1.5 spg). Vasquez has scored in double figures 15 times this season, including a string of nine straight games from Dec. 9 to Jan. 18.

Climbing the Ladder
Two-time All-Ivy honoree Melissa Colborne is once again one of Yale’s offensive pacesetters in 2009-10 with 8.4 points per game. The senior, who ranked second in the Ivy League in scoring in each of the last two seasons, currently ranks sixth in Yale history with 1,356 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 (466) and in a game without a miss (12-for-12), as well as for free throw attempts in a career (619).

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 and is the Bulldogs’ top rebounder with 7.3 boards per contest, slotting her at fifth in the Ivy League on the glass. The sophomore, who is also among the Ancient Eight’s best from the field (fifth, .456) at the free throw line (fifth, .791), has tallied four double-doubles in 2009-10.

Block Parties
Junior Mady Gobrecht blocked a career-best six shots in the Bulldogs’ 68-58 win at NJIT on Jan. 9. Gobrecht, who ranks sixth in the Ivy League with 1.2 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. Senior Haywood Wright, the third-most prolific shot blocker in Yale history with 105 rejections in her career, swatted five shots in the Bulldogs’ next contest at Brown on Jan. 15.

Spreading the Wealth
Though only one Yale player ranks among the top 10 scorers in the Ivy League (Vasquez, 10th), the Bulldogs boast the only roster in the Ancient Eight with five active players averaging over 8.0 points per game. The Bulldogs, who have eight players contributing at least 17 minutes per game, have had five different players lead them in scoring and six different players lead the way in rebounding this season.

Swept Away
The Feb. 5-6 victories over Cornell and Columbia marked the first Ivy League weekend sweep for the Bulldogs since downing Harvard and Dartmouth on Jan. 26-27, 2007. Yale has now swept Cornell and Columbia in New Haven on back-to-back days on 13 occasions, while Big Red and the Lions have never knocked off the Bulldogs in consecutive games at Lee Amphitheater.

New Haven? Where’s That?
The Bulldogs ushered out 2009 and welcomed in 2010 with seven consecutive games away from the familiar confines of the John J. Lee Amphitheater. Yale’s 33-day hiatus from action in the Elm City, which started in nearby Hamden, Conn. at Quinnipiac and ranged as far west as Boulder, Colo., spanned five states and three time zones. The Bulldogs also went 33 days without a home game last season, a stretch spanning six games from Nov. 18 to Dec. 21, 2008.

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, hosted Yale on Feb. 13 (W, 70-66 (2OT)) 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 featured 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.

Ivy Analysis
Princeton controls its own destiny in the race for the 2009-10 Ivy League Championship, having defeated every other Ancient Eight squad once en route to a 7-0 record at the season’s midway point. Second-place Harvard (5-2) has lost at Princeton, but is yet to host the Tigers this season, as is the case for Yale (5-3), Dartmouth (4-3) and Brown (3-5). Columbia remains in contention as well, tied for third place with the Bulldogs at 5-3, though the Lions have defeated just one Ancient Eight team (Dartmouth) with a winning league record. Cornell (1-7) and Penn (0-7) round out the current Ivy League standings.

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).

Seniors’ Last Stand
Next weekend’s action marks the final home weekend for the Bulldogs in 2009-10 as Yale hosts Dartmouth on Feb. 26 and historic rival Harvard on Feb. 27 for Senior Night. Tip-off from the John J. Lee Amphitheater in New Haven is scheduled for 7 p.m. on both nights. Seniors Melissa Colborne, Haywood Wright and team captain Ashley Carter will be honored prior to the contest with the Crimson.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity