Vasquez, Momentum From Harvard Win Propels Yale to Win Over Dartmouth
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The celebration began with Friday night's win over Harvard and carried over into the annual Pink Zone celebration at Yale University, which began at 10 a.m. Saturday. The Yale women's basketball team kept the festivities alive with a second straight strong performance, this time against its rival from Dartmouth.
The Bulldogs entered the weekend tied with Columbia for third place in the standings at 4-2 in Ivy play. Harvard was unbeaten and in first place at 5-0 after handing second-place Princeton (4-1) its first Ivy loss since the 2008-09 season. Dartmouth has struggled this season, in large part to season-ending injuries to two starters.
Now that the slate of games is complete, the Ivy League standings have been shaken up following the weekend's results and Yale is staring at a showdown next weekend with Princeton with first place in the Ivy League on the line.
The Bulldogs joined the other three home teams in the Ivy League to sweep the weekend thanks to the play of Sophomore guard Megan Vasquez and freshman forward Janna Graf. Vasquez scored a game-high 21 points, while Graf added 15 points and eight rebounds to lift Yale to a 66-53 win over Dartmouth in Ivy League action Saturday night at John J. Lee Amphitheater.
Senior forward Mady Gobrecht added eight points, 11 rebounds and a game-high seven assists to help the Bulldogs (10-12, 6-2 Ivy League) improve to 7-1 in their last eight games at home. Michelle Cashen added six points, 12 rebounds and five steals. Aarica West chipped in with nine points.
The weekend sweep leaves Yale in second place in the Ivy League, a half-game behind Princeton in the Ivy League standings. The two teams will meet in Princeton on Friday with the winner claiming sole possession of first place. Princeton took over the top spot after sweeping Columbia and Cornell and with Harvard losing at Yale Friday and at Brown on Saturday.
"Being 6-2 in the Ivy League is nice. Of course, we wish we could be better, and we know that we have a very tough second half ahead of us," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "If we learned what we needed to learn from those two losses, then we have a shot at getting through this second half, with four of our last six games on the road with two of the most difficult road trips of the season. Our next two weekends (at Princeton and Penn and at Harvard and Dartmouth) will be very tough. We will find out what we are made of."
Yale put itself in that position thanks to a strong defensive effort in the first half against Dartmouth. The Bulldogs held the Big Green to just 7-for-33 shooting (21.2 percent) in the half while outrebounding the Big Green 26-22 en route to a 33-22 halftime lead.
Yale scored the first five points of the game and opened up a 7-2 lead on a pair of layups from Vasquez and a 3-pointer from Graf. Dartmouth scored the next eight points to briefly take a 10-7 lead, but Yale responded with a 12-2 run to take early command of the game. Dartmouth got as close as five points (21-16) with 7:05 left in the half, but Yale slowly pulled away from there, pulling out to an 11-point lead by the halftime buzzer. Gobrecht scored seven of Yale's final 12 points of the half to help the Bulldogs go into the halftime break with the 33-22 lead.
Yale outscored Dartmouth 18-8 in the paint in the opening half.
"It was a great team effort," Coach Gobrecht said. "The whole weekend, we got some great defensive play. Mady and Michelle played really well in both games. Our inside game is coming back now that Michelle has gotten it going again. We now have two inside threats in Mady and Michelle that give us a lot of options. Mady is a senior. She knows this is it for her. She is playing hard every minute."
Dartmouth outscored Yale 6-2 in the first 2:33 of the second half to trim the deficit to seven points (35-28), but that was as close as the Big Green would get.
Vasquez led the second-half charge, scoring 13 of her 21 points in the half. Graf added 10 of her 15 points in the half to help the Bulldogs stay comfortably ahead the rest of the way.
"It was a different style of play tonight against Dartmouth," Coach Gobrecht said. "They are a much more physical team. They play very good defense. They were bigger. It was a real shift for us. I thought we played very well. The only negatives were too many turnovers in the first half and missing too many open looks in the second half. Other than that, we played pretty well."
Faziah Steen scored 21 points to lead Dartmouth (5-16, 1-5 Ivy League). Cassie Cooper added 10 points.
Yale will play the next four games away from the comfort of home. The Bulldogs will travel to Princeton on Friday for a 6 p.m. tip-off. Yale will close out the weekend at Penn on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity