Freshman Forward Scores 26 Points To Lead Bulldogs Past Brown
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A slow start to the opening game of its Ivy League season could have turned into disappointment for the Yale University women's basketball team, but freshman forward Janna Graf came through when the Bulldogs needed her most.
Graf scored 14 of her game-high 26 points in the second half to lead the Bulldogs to a come-from-behind 66-54 win over Brown in the Ivy League opener for both teams Friday night at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.
The 26 points is a new career-high for Graf, who bested her previous high of 22 points, which she set in Yale's historic win over then-No. 15/14 Florida State on Dec. 18. Graf was 10-for-17 from the floor, including 6-for-12 from 3-point range. She was 5-of-7 in the second half, hitting 4-of-6 from 3-point range to spark the Bulldogs' second-half rally.
"Janna is a really good player. They were giving her the looks," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "Janna just never stops moving. So she is tough to ever get a read on because you can't find her. That's the beauty of her game. That's what I saw when I watched her in high school. That's what makes her tough."
Senior forward Mady Gobrecht recorded her second double-double of the season and seventh of her college career. She finished with 11 points, a career-high 14 rebounds, and four blocked shots. It was the most rebounds for a Yale player since Michelle Cashen pulled down 15 in the 2009-10 season opener against Holy Cross on Nov. 13, 2009.
"I thought Mady was huge on the boards," Coach Gobrecht said. "I think we need to give her a little more help on the boards next time. Madeline was great defensively and great on the boards. I thought she was really tough."
Brown used a 7-0 run to break a tight game and open up a 19-13 lead with 5:52 remaining in the opening half. Yale battled back and trimmed the deficit to 23-22 on a layup from Graf with 1:00 remaining. Brown's Sheila Dixon responded with a layup of her own 14 seconds later to give the Bears a 25-22 halftime lead.
West opened the second half with a 3-pointer, which proved to be a sign of things to come. After shooting 3-of-16 from 3-point range in the first half, the Bulldogs began hitting from the outside starting with West's shot to open the second half, which turned the game in their favor. Yale was 7-of-15 from behind the arc in the second half, with four of those shots coming off the hands of Graf, who seemed to find an open look nearly every time down the floor.
Down 39-36 with 12:46 left, Yale finally broke the game open with an 18-3 run to take a 54-42 lead with 6:50 remaining. Graf opened and closed the run with a 3-pointer and scored 10 of Yale's 18 points in the run.
"We were all moving well and setting screens and that's how I got open looks tonight," Graf said. "Our shots weren't on in the first half but we started hitting them in the second half. We're all capable of hitting our shots, so once that started to happen in the second half, we got on a roll. It felt really good. We really worked together as a team in the second half. It made it fun to play basketball that way."
Dixon scored 13 of her 21 points in the first half to lead Brown (4-11, 0-1). Freshman Lauren Clarke added 11 points and seven rebounds, while Aileen Daniels chipped in with 10 points and seven rebounds.
The win gives Yale a 1-0 start to its Ivy League season. Princeton also started its league play with a victory last weekend when it defeated Penn 56-45. Four other Ivy League squads open league play this weekend beginning with a pair of games tomorrow with Cornell visiting Columbia and Dartmouth traveling to Harvard.
"The last two years we started out with a loss, so this beats the heck out of that," Coach Gobrecht said. "We do something unusual in playing back to back like this. The team that lost tends to come out that much more vengeance, so it's going to be very hard for us next weekend."
Yale is off until Friday, Jan. 21, when it visits Brown to close the home-and-home series. The game will tip off at 7 p.m.
Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity