Colborne’s Season-High 20 Points Lead Yale in Season-Ending Win at Cornell

Melissa Colborne. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Melissa Colborne. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

ITHACA, N.Y. – The Yale women’s basketball team saved one of its best performances of the 2009-10 season for last, capping the campaign with a 74-60 victory at Cornell on Saturday night. Four Bulldogs tallied double figures in the contest, led by a season-best 20 points from senior Melissa Colborne in the final game of her career. Senior Haywood Wright had a season-high 13 points in her last game in Yale blue and also blocked a shot to finish tied for second place all-time with 109 career rejections. Senior captain Ashley Carter moved into third all-time at Yale by appearing in the 107th game of her career.

With the win, Yale finishes in fourth place at 8-6 in the Ivy League, its best Ancient Eight mark since the 1997-98 season. The Bulldogs’ season sweep of Cornell gives them a final overall record of 13-15, their best since 2001-02. Big Red finishes at 2-12 in the Ivy League and 7-20 overall.

Colborne’s 20 points push her over 1,400 for her career and cement her position as the fifth-most prolific scorer in Yale history with 1,418. The first Canadian-born player in program history is the Bulldogs’ all-time leader in free throws made (486) and games played (111). She ranks third at Yale with 102 games started in her illustrious career.

Joining the senior duo in double figures were freshman Megan Vasquez, who tallied 18 points, and sophomore Michelle Cashen, who had 15. Junior Yoyo Greenfield had four points and junior Mady Gobrecht had two to round out the Yale scoring. Gobrecht also hauled in a team-high five rebounds. As a team, Yale shot 48.1% (25-52) from the field, 20% (2-10) from three-point range and 78.6% (22-28) from the free throw line.

Cornell, celebrating Senior Night, was led by 17 points from senior Allie Fedorowicz and 10 from senior Lauren Benson. Virginia McMunigal, Big Red’s third senior, had nine points and shared the team-best of five rebounds with Fedorowicz. Cornell shot 36.5% (19-52) from the floor, 36.8% (7-19) from beyond the arc and 71.4% (15-21) from the charity stripe.

After the squads traded buckets to open the game, a Vasquez triple started a 7-0 spurt that gave the Bulldogs a fast 9-2 advantage. Cornell’s seniors, playing in their final home game, accounted for all of the home team’s points in an ensuing 8-2 run that cut the Yale lead to one point at 11-10. Colborne converted a three-point play the old-fashioned way on the Bulldogs’ next trip to start a 12-4 spurt that gave Yale a nine-point cushion, 23-14, with 8:52 left in the half. The tenacious Yale defense would allow just one field goal over the final 6:50 of the period, ending the half on an 11-4 run to enter the intermission holding a 34-21 advantage.

Colborne led all scorers with 12 points in the first half, shooting 5-for-7 from the floor and knocking down both of her attempts from the free throw line. As a team, the Bulldogs shot 48.3% (14-29) from the field, 28.6% (2-7) from three-point range and a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe. McMunigal paced Big Red with six first-half points as Cornell shot just 30.8% (8-26) from the field and 50% (1-2) from the free throw line. The home team, which boasts several of the top three-point shooters in the Ivy League, stayed in the contest thanks to a 44.4% (4-9) performance from downtown in the opening 20 minutes of play. Big Red outrebounded the Bulldogs, 18-16, in the half, though each team cashed in on just two second-chance points. Yale forced 14 turnovers in the half, converting them into 14 points, while Cornell tallied six points off of eight Bulldogs’ miscues in the stanza.

Yale would maintain a double-digit advantage for much of the second half, before a pair of Fedorowicz free throws at the 10:22 mark brought the score to 47-39 in favor of the Bulldogs. Action got more physical at that point, as the two teams began to trade free throws. Yale proved to be the aggressors in that exchange and soon found itself back up by 13 points, 57-44, with 7:26 remaining in regulation. Big Red cut the lead back to nine points at the four-minute mark, but, on the ensuing Yale possession, Greenfield sank a desperation shot as the shot clock expired to reclaim the Bulldogs’ double-digit cushion, which they would hold for the remainder of the game. Yale would put on an another free throw shooting exhibition over the final two minutes of action, connecting on seven of eight from the line in that stretch to ice a 74-60 victory.

“It means a lot for us to send our seniors out as winners,” said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women’s Basketball at Yale. “They were integral in starting to turn this program around, and it’s great that they could be a part of this season’s milestones.”

In addition to its best Ivy League record in 12 seasons, the Bulldogs completed their first sweep of the defending Ivy League champion since 1997-98 by taking two decisions against Dartmouth on Feb. 13 and Feb. 26.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity