Yale Rallies, Holds Off In-State Rival Quinnipiac

Michelle Cashen. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Michelle Cashen. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Cashen, Vasquez pour in 20 points apiece to carry Bulldogs to second straight win

NEW HAVEN, CONN. — No one would have blamed the Yale University women's basketball team for mailing in Monday's game against in-state rival Quinnipiac.

After pulling off the upset 91-85 win over No. 15/14 Florida State for the first victory over a ranked opponent in the program's 38-year history on Saturday, it would have been understandable if the emotional high from that win took a toll on the Bulldogs' focus for Quinnipiac, which always is a tough challenge no matter the team records.

But despite the early signs of trouble, the Bulldogs found a way to prevail.

Quinnipiac scored the game's first six points and opened up a 10-point lead midway through the first half, but Yale closed the gap by halftime and took control in the second half to earn the 74-68 win at John J. Lee Amphitheater.

"We definitely were a little flat after such an emotional experience on Saturday. But I also think that Quinnipiac came into the game better prepared than we were. I thought they were much more focused on us and I thought we had to do a lot of adjusting throughout the game," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "We were just trying to play catchup early and figure out what we needed to do to win the game."

Michelle Cashen and Megan Vasquez each scored 20 points to lead Yale (3-7). Cashen also added eight rebounds, eight assists and four steals, falling just short of the first triple-double in Yale's history. Janna Graf had 11 points and nine rebounds, while Mady Gobrecht scored 10 points before fouling out with 2:04 to play.

"It's a great feeling to even come that close to the triple-double," Cashen said. "Anytime you can put in that kind of effort, you know that the game probably went well. It would have been a great Christmas present to get that accomplishment."

It was the second time in as many nights that Cashen showed a knack for taking over a game for long stretches. Against Florida State, a team that went into the game outrebounding its opponents by an average of 14.6 rebounds per game, Cashen dominated inside, scoring 11 points and pulling down a game-high 13 rebounds.

"Michelle had an awesome weekend," Gobrecht said. "For her to get 13 rebounds against a team like Florida State and then what she did tonight, she is just playing great right now. She is a very good basketball player and she knows how to get it done when we need her to."

After falling behind 32-22 with 5:56 to play in the first half, the Bulldogs put Saturday's win behind them and started to chip away at the deficit. Cashen had a pair of layups and a pair of assists on two 3-pointers to help fuel an 11-3 run that closed the half and sent the Bulldogs into the halftime break trailing only 35-33. It is the first time in seven tries this season that the Bulldogs trailed at halftime but managed to pull out the victory.

When they came out of the locker room for the second half, the Bulldogs didn't back off. In fact, they only pushed harder. By the time the Bobcats knew what hit them, the Bulldogs had used a 20-8 run to open the half and seized control of the game. When Vasquez drained her second 3-pointer of the night, it capped the run and gave Yale a 53-43 lead with 11:15 left. Over the next four minutes, the teams traded blows, but Yale had built its lead to 61-49. Quinnipiac would get no closer than two points the rest of the way.

The Bobcats gave it their best shot to pull back into the game, erasing most of that 12-point deficit with a 9-0 run. And when Courtney Kaminski grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back for the layup, it put Quinnipiac within striking distance, 63-61, with 2:22 to play.

But from that point on, Yale made the key plays to stay ahead on the scoreboard, which forced Quinnipiac to foul in order to stop the clock. The Bulldogs made the Bobcats pay, hitting 8-of-9 free throws down the stretch to secure the victory.

"It's good for us to remember that we're not always going to score 91 points," Gobrecht said. "We have to figure out how to get it done on the defensive end of the floor. This is always a tough game when these two teams play each other, but it is a very good game to get us ready for Ivy League play because Quinnipiac is a lot like a lot of Ivy League teams."

The win gives Yale its first winning streak, albeit a short one, but the significance of the two wins is not lost on the players.

"It feels great but we worked really hard to get these two wins and we have to keep working hard and we cannot be satisfied because if we are, there is a really good chance that we would end up with another losing streak," Cashen said. "I think it is clear that when we work hard, stay down on defense, and really move the ball around, then good things will happen for us."

Yale is off for the Christmas holiday and will return to action on Dec. 28 and 29 when it takes part in the Fordham Holiday Classic, where it will face Fordham and Big East-power Villanova.

Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity