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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - With just one weekend left in the 2009-10 campaign, the Yale women’s basketball team travels to Columbia and Cornell looking to close out the season by completing a pair of Ivy League season sweeps. The Bulldogs (12-14, 7-5 Ivy) can post their best Ivy League mark in 12 years with one victory over either the Lions (16-10, 7-5 Ivy) or Big Red (7-18, 2-10 Ivy), while a sweep of the Ancient Eight’s New York contingent would secure a third place finish, Yale’s highest in league play since the 1992-93 season. Both Friday’s contest in New York City and Saturday’s season finale in Ithaca are slated for 7 p.m. starts. The Bulldogs took both ends of the weekend series with Columbia and Cornell in New Haven on Feb. 5-6.
Last Time Out
Yale completed the season sweep of defending champion Dartmouth with a convincing 58-42 win over Big Green on Friday night, and a furious second-half rally fell short as Harvard edged the Bulldogs, 68-60, on Saturday. The split capped Yale’s home schedule with an 8-4 record at the John J. Lee Amphitheater, including a 5-2 mark against Ivy League opponents in the Elm City.
The key to stopping the 16-10 Columbia Lions, who are tied with Yale at 7-5 in Ivy League play, is keeping Judie Lomax away from the rim: a task much easier said than done. Lomax is the Ivy League’s leading scorer with 18.5 points per game and is the top rebounder in all of Division I with 13.5 boards per contest. The Lions also benefit from 11.1 points per game from Kathleen Barry, who did not play in the earlier meeting in New Haven, and 10.3 points from Lauren Dwyer. Columbia has swept Cornell, Penn and Dartmouth, while also notching a win against Brown to account for its seven Ivy League victories.
Earlier This Season
The Bulldogs netted a season-best 47 first-half points and built an 18-point lead early in the second half of the Feb. 6 game with Columbia in New Haven. Despite the sizeable lead, Yale had to survive a furious Lions’ rally, which saw the Bulldogs’ lead dwindle all the way down to one point, before escaping with an 81-74 victory. Yoyo Greenfield had a career-best 20 points for Yale, while Megan Vasquez matched her career high of 19 points. The Bulldogs held Judie Lomax, the nation’s leading rebounder, to just eight boards. Lomax did post 20 points, however, on 8-for-18 shooting from the floor.
Two seasons removed from an Ivy League title, the Cornell Big Red enter the weekend at 7-18 overall and 2-10 in Ivy League play. Both of Cornell’s league wins have come against winless Penn, with its closest league losses coming in the form of two one-possession defeats at the hands of Dartmouth. Big Red is led offensively by 11.7 points per game from Allie Fedorowicz, the ninth-leading scorer in the Ancient Eight. Freshman Clare Fitzpatrick ranks in the league top 20 in both scoring (19th, 9.0 ppg) and rebounding (15th, 5.0 rpg), while Allie Munson leads Cornell on the glass with 5.7 boards per contest. Fedorowicz, Virginia McMunigal and Lauren Benson all rank among the most-prolific three-point shooters in the Ivy League, and Benson also shares the league lead with 5.7 assists per game.
Earlier This Season
Yale hit its first 10 shots from the floor, claiming an early double-digit lead at 28-17 against Big Red on Feb. 5 in New Haven. The Bulldogs never looked back as 11 Yale players scored, led by 13 points from junior Mady Gobrecht, in a 74-50 rout. Senior Melissa Colborne dropped 11 points for Yale, and sophomore Michelle Cashen tallied a double-double with 10 points and a game-best 10 rebounds. Allie Fedorowicz scored 20 points to lead Cornell, but Big Red could not overcome a 44-31 edge on the glass for Yale, which netted 20 second-chance points off of 18 offensive boards.
Bulldogs Being Offensive
When Yale met Cornell and Columbia in New Haven on Feb. 5-6, the Bulldogs shot over 60% in the first half of both home wins. 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. Junior Yoyo Greenfield’s 20 points against the Lions marked a personal career best as well as the first 20-point performance of the season for a Yale player.
Righting the Ship
The Bulldogs seventh Ivy League victory of the season on Friday against Dartmouth clinched an Ancient Eight record of .500 or better for the second time in three seasons. Yale’s 12 wins overall also mark the highest total since posting a 14-13 record in the 2001-02 campaign. With a sweep this weekend, the Bulldogs can post their first overall record of .500 or better with an above .500 Ivy League tally since the 1997-98 season.
A Long Time Coming
Yale’s 58-42 victory over Dartmouth on Friday night marked the first time that the Bulldogs have swept the defending Ivy League champion since toppling Harvard twice in the 1986-87 season. Yale has not swept Dartmouth since the 1997-98 season. Like this year’s home-and-home sweep of Big Green, the 1997-98 sweep included an overtime victory in Hanover.
Doing It with Defense
The Bulldogs are 10-2 when holding their opponents to 60 points or fewer. Yale, which has allowed an average of 50.9 points per game in those 12 contests, held visiting Penn to just 38 points on Feb. 20, while surrendering just 15 points in the first half of home victories over Army and defending Ivy League champion Dartmouth.
Friday’s 58-42 victory over Dartmouth marked the sixth time this season that Yale played a team that qualified for last season’s NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs have challenged 2008-09 NCAA Regional Finalist Arizona State and NCAA Second Round participant Kansas State as well as 2008-09 conference champions Sacred Heart and North Carolina A&T, which needed a buzzer beater to sneak past the Bulldogs on Nov. 28. The Bulldogs edged Big Green, 70-66 in double-overtime, in the first meeting on Feb. 13 in Hanover, N.H.
Freshman Megan Vasquez, who leads Yale with 11.2 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 12 starts in 26 games and averages 26.8 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 seventh in the league in free throw percentage (.772), seventh in steals (1.5 spg) and 10th in made three-point field goals (1.2 per game). Vasquez has scored in double figures 17 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 8.5 points per game. The senior, who ranked second in the Ivy League in scoring in each of the last two seasons, currently ranks fifth in Yale history with 1,392 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 (478) and in a game without a miss (12-for-12). Appearances in both games this weekend would make her Yale’s all-time leader in games played (with 111), while starts in both games would move her into a tie for second place (with 103) all-time.
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 7.1 boards per contest, slotting her at sixth in the Ivy League on the glass. The sophomore, who is also among the Ancient Eight’s best from the free throw line (fifth, .808), has tallied four double-doubles in 2009-10.
Junior Mady Gobrecht blocked a career-best six shots in the Bulldogs’ 68-58 win at NJIT on Jan. 9. Gobrecht, who ranks ninth 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 107 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.
The double-overtime win at Dartmouth on Feb. 13 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.
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.
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).
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.
Earning Extra Credit
Prior to the Feb. 13 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.
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.
A win in any of its three remaining games would give unbeaten Princeton (11-0) at least a share of the Ivy League title. Harvard, which hosts the Tigers on Saturday, is the only other team mathematically alive for the Ancient Eight crown at 9-2. With Princeton closing its season against struggling Penn (0-11), it is likely that the Crimson will need to win all three of its remaining games, and needs Dartmouth (6-5) to beat the Tigers, to salvage a split of the Ivy League championship. The winner of the Yale/Columbia (both 7-5) game on Friday will likely secure third place, though both teams could end up sharing the third slot in the rankings (at 8-6). Big Green could also take third place, but would need to either upset Princeton or win at Harvard to stay in contention. Brown (4-8), Cornell (2-10) and the winless Quakers round out the Ivy League standings.
WBCA Pink Zone
The Feb. 20 win over Penn was 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 took place throughout Payne Whitney Gymnasium, began at 10 a.m. on Feb. 20 with a “Battle of the Badges” bench press competition. The day also consisted of a Yale gymnastics meet, health fair, silent auction and many chances to win great prizes and support an important cause.
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).
report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity
Bulldogs Head to Columbia and Cornell for Final Ivy League Weekend
Game Notes in PDF