January 28, 2011

Yale Improves To 3-0 In Ivy Play With Win Over Penn

Vasquez Scores 16 Points To Lead Bulldogs In Defensive Struggle With Quakers

 

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Sophomore guard Megan Vasquez has picked up her play of late, and it could not have come at a better time for the Yale University women's basketball team. The Bulldogs are off to a fast start in Ivy League play, and a lot of the recent success has come, in large part, because of the play of Vasquez.

Sophomore Megan Vasquez recorded a game-high 16 points, 11 coming in the first half, to help lead Yale to a 53-44 win over the University of Pennsylvania at John J. Lee Amphitheater Friday night. The win gives the Bulldogs (7-10, 3-0 Ivy League) their first 3-0 start to Ivy League play since the 2007-08 season. A win over visiting Princeton Saturday night will give Yale its first 4-0 start to the Ivy season since the 1986-87 season.

"That might be the hardest working team I have ever seen," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "They just never stop on an effort. It didn't matter what was going on. They keep coming at you and coming at you. I have a lot of respect for the work ethic of that team. They are going to beat some people. I am glad we survived."

Yale used a 5-for-12 shooting effort from 3-point range in the first half to jump ahead by as many as six points in the opening period. Penn, however, was more than able to keep pace. The Quakers' defense made the Bulldogs work for every possession. 

Yale opened the game with a basket and a pair of free throws in its first two possessions to jump out to a 4-0 lead, but Penn responded with an 11-3 run to go ahead 11-7. The Bulldogs stayed within striking distance until they fired off an 11-2 run behind a pair of 3-pointers from Vasquez and another from Aarica West to go ahead 21-15, Yale's largest lead of the half, with 6:15 left in the half.

Penn rallied to close the half with a 9-4 run capped off by a pair of baskets from Megan McCullough to trim the Yale lead to 25-24 at the halftime buzzer.

Freshman guard Alyssa Baron opened the second half with a layup to briefly give Penn an early 26-25 lead, but Yale countered with a pair of threes from Vasquez and West to take a 31-26 lead just 1:41 into the half.

Over the next 5:05, both teams managed only a single layup each, but Mady Gobrecht ended the drought with a layup that gave Yale a 35-28 lead with 13:20 left. Yale extended the lead to eight points, but Baron responded with four straight points to pull Penn within 40-36 with 7:27 remaining. That was as close as the Quakers would get.

Janna Graf scored her only points of the game on a 3-pointer with 6:55 remaining to jumpstart a 12-6 run that put Yale ahead 52-42 with 2:28 left, which was more than enough to put the game out of reach.

"I thought the push really wore them out," Coach Gobrecht said. "Even though we weren't getting a ton on the push, we got enough. I thought we had a couple of real, good patient looks at the basket where they just got tired and we were able to capitalize. I thought we got a little soft in the last couple of minutes there but they took it out of us too. We were just beat. They are tough."

Aside from Vasquez, the Bulldogs were led by Gobrecht, who scored 11 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Michelle Cashen added seven points and a game-high 12 rebounds. West chipped in with nine points, five assists and four steals.

The Bulldogs outrebounded the Quakers 44-37 and outshot them as well, hitting 19-of-53 from the field (35.8 percent) while holding the Quakers to 31.7 percent (19-for-60). Yale was also 8-for-20 from 3-point range in the game, including the 5-for-12 showing in the first half.

Now, the Bulldogs await Princeton, the defending Ivy League champion. The Tigers, after winning at Brown Friday, are currently riding a 21-game conference winning streak, the third longest in the nation behind only UConn and Stanford.

With three wins in the first three Ivy League games, Coach Gobrecht is pleased with the Bulldogs' ability to rise to the occasion against conference opponents.

"So far we have answered whatever the challenge was," she said. "Granted, we've only faced two teams, but we have done a good job of figuring out what we needed to do to be successful in that game. I thought the contribution that we got from Alicia Seelaus tonight was significant. If we start getting some play out of our bench, that's really going to make a difference going forward. I like how we are competing. I really do."

On Saturday, Yale plays host to Princeton, 70-38 winners over Brown Friday. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. in the John J. Lee Amphitheater.

Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity

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