March 5, 2011

Yale’s Postseason Hopes Dealt Blow By Columbia

Lions Play Spoiler Role, Eliminate Bulldogs From Ivy Title Contention

 

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The Yale University women's basketball team entered the weekend in almost total control of its own destiny. If they won both of their final two games of the regular season, they were virtually assured of earning their first trip to a national postseason tournament in their 38-year history.

Columbia had something else in mind entirely. Although the Lions entered the weekend with a winless 0-13 record in games played away from home, they were out to erase that goose egg from their season record.

By the time Friday's game reached its climax, Columbia's desire to earn its first road win proved to outweigh Yale's postseason hopes.

Freshman Brianna Orlich scored 11 points, while senior captain Kathleen Barry added nine points, nine rebounds and a pair of blocks to lead Columbia to a 48-42 win over Yale in Ivy League play inside John J. Lee Amphitheater.

While the loss does not eliminate the Bulldogs from postseason contention, it did take away any hope they had of earning a share of the Ivy League title, and it also dealt a serious blow to their hopes of earning the Ivy League's automatic bid to the WNIT tournament.

Combined with Harvard's 56-48 comeback win at Penn, Yale dropped to third place in the Ivy League with its loss to Columbia. The Bulldogs (13-14, 9-4 Ivy League) now have to beat Cornell Saturday and hope that Harvard (17-9, 9-3) loses one of its final two games at first-place Princeton on Saturday or at Dartmouth on Tuesday. A Yale win combined with one Harvard loss would assure a two-way tie for second place in the Ivy League. Yale, by virtue of its season sweep of Harvard this season, has won the deciding tiebreaker and would earn the Ivy League's automatic berth into the WNIT.

"They played so much harder than we did," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "None of it surprised me. We had midterms and a lot of things going on this week. I didn't think we were very focused. It was obvious we weren't ready to play. Columbia just played a whole lot harder. They don't show up and play like that against everybody, but they show up and play like that against Yale. We just don't answer the challenge."

The Bulldogs answered the initial challenge from the Lions. The Lions opened the game with a 12-2 run, but the Bulldogs responded with a run of their own, outscoring Columbia 13-1 over a  2:55 span to take a 15-13 lead with 8:58 left in the half. Though Columbia tied the game at 15, Yale did not trail through the rest of the half and went into the halftime break leading 24-21.

Yale came out of the locker room and scored the first basket of the second half to gain a 26-21 lead, but Columbia did not fold and instead chipped away at the deficit and shut down the Bulldogs' with a stingy defensive effort.

Columbia regained the lead with an 11-4 run that made the score 32-30 with 12:00 left, but Yale freshman Janna Graf put Yale back on top with a 3-pointer that gave Yale a 33-32 lead with 10:55 left.

The Bulldogs held onto a slim lead and maintained control until the final three minutes of the game.

Trailing 40-36 with 3:12 remaining, Columbia closed the game with a 12-2 run and Yale could not find a way to respond in time to prevent the loss.

Senior Mady Gobrecht finished the game with 10 points and six rebounds to lead Yale. Sophomore Megan Vasquez added eight points and seven rebounds, while Michelle Cashen chipped in six points and nine rebounds.

The Bulldogs will celebrate Senior Day on Saturday prior to taking on Cornell at 7 p.m. The Big Red is coming off of a 60-55 loss at Brown Friday night. The game is a must win for the Bulldogs, who also must hope that Harvard loses to either Princeton or Dartmouth if seniors Yoyo Greenfield and Mady Gobrecht hope to have a chance to play more basketball to play after they play their final regular-season game of their college careers Saturday night.

Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity

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