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Yale Embarks On Quest For WNIT Glory

Yale Embarks On Quest For WNIT Glory


The Yale University women's basketball team is making its first-ever appearance in the Women's National Invitational Tournament. It is the Bulldogs' first appearance in a national postseason tournament in their 38-year history. Yale, which finished the regular season with a 14-14 record, earned the Ivy League's automatic berth after finishing the regular season tied with Harvard in the League standings with a 10-4 record. The Bulldogs won the tiebreaker by virtue of sweeping the Crimson in the season series for the first time since the 1993-94 season. Yale finished 10-4 in Ivy League play for only the second time in its history, matching the mark from the 1988-89 season. Yale is appearing in its first postseason tournament since 1979. The winner of the Yale-Boston College game will meet Thursday's winner of the St. Joseph's-Virginia Commonwealth game in the WNIT's second round.


Probable Starters



Boston College

  • G 21 Kristen Doherty, 5-11, Fr., 9.0 ppg., 4.7 rpg.
  • G 11 Jaclyn Thoman, 5-9, Sr., 10.2 ppg.,2.7 rpg.
  • G 10 Kerri Shields, 5-9, So., 10.9 ppg., 3.2 rpg.
  • F 32 Stefanie Murphy, 6-4, Sr., 15.6 ppg., 8.1 rpg.
  • C 30 Carolyn Swords, 6-6, Sr., 17.6 ppg., 9.0 rpg.


Scouting Boston College

Boston College is currently 18-12. The Eagles finished the regular season with an 18-11 record, including a 5-9 finish in Atlantic Coast Conference play. The Eagles fell to N.C. State, 71-70, in the opening round of the ACC Tournament. The Eagles have lost their last three games and five of their last six. The Eagles are led by  senior Carolyn Swords, a 6-6 center who averages 17.6 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Four of the Eagles' probable starters have started all 30 games this season. Only freshman guard Kristen Doherty missed a start. She has started in 29 of her 30 appearances. B.C. is ninth in the country in scoring offense with an average of 78.4 points per game. The Eagles have been in the Top 12 since the start of the season. B.C. is also seventh in the country in assists per game (17.9) and 10th in field goal percentage.


Series History

Yale and Boston College have met twice prior to Thursday's matchup in the WNIT. The Eagles won both contests, beating the Bulldogs in New Haven, 58-38, on Dec. 29, 1997. The seniors on both teams were freshmen the last time the teams met on Jan. 13, 2008. B.C. senior Stefanie Murphy scored 19 second-half points to lead the Eagles to a 57-55 win in Chestnut Hill. Yale trailed 28-25 at halftime but opened the second half with a 16-3 run to pull ahead 41-31. Yale held the lead until the 1:17 mark when Murphy drained a pair of free throws to tie the game at 55-55. Murphy later scored the winning basket on a layup.


B.C. In The WNIT

Boston College is in the WNIT for the third time in the last four seasons. The Eagles advanced to the third round of the WNIT in 2008. The Eagles opened with a second round win over Vermont (76-64) but lost at St. John's (65-56) in the third round. In 2009, Boston College advanced to the WNIT Final Four. The Eagles defeated Boston University to open the tournament, 68-53. In the third round the Eagles defeated St. John's, 68-64, in Queens, N.Y. The Eagles then defeated Georgetown, 65-56, at Conte Forum. In the semifinal, the Eagles lost to South Florida, 82-65.


Shining Swords

Boston College senior center Carolyn Swords, a preseason candidate for several national player of the year awards, leads the Eagles with 17.9 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Swords, who led the nation in field goal percentage (72.2 percent) during the regular season for the third straight season was an All-ACC first team selection for the second straight season. She is averaging career-highs in points (17.6 ppg.), rebounds (9.0 rpg.) and field goal percentage. She is the second leading scorer in B.C. history with 1,978 career points. Swords is the Eagles' all-time leading rebounder (1,117) and leading shot blocker (175). She also owns the program's record for playing and starting in 130 straight games.


Yale's Historic WNIT Run

Yale (14-14, 10-4 Ivy League) is making its first-ever appearance in the Women's National Invitational Tournament. It is just the fourth overall postseason appearance for Yale in its 38-year history and the first postseason tournament since 1979. Yale has played in a postseason tournament only three previous times, in 1977, 1978 and 1979, all under the guidance of former Head Coach Louise O'Neal. Yale was one of 31 teams to earn an automatic berth in the WNIT. Yale earned the Ivy League's automatic berth after finishing the regular season tied with Harvard in the League standings with a 10-4 record. The Bulldogs won the tiebreaker by virtue of sweeping the Crimson in the season series for the first time since the 1993-94 season. The Bulldogs finished 10-4 in Ivy League play for only the second time in their history, matching their Ivy League finish in 1988-89.


WNIT Schedule

The winner of the Yale-Boston College game will meet Thursday's winner of the St. Joseph's-Virginia Commonwealth game in the second round of the WNIT. The WNIT opens with first-round games Wednesday through Friday. Second-round games will be played Saturday through Monday. Third-round games will be held March 23-25. The WNIT quarterfinals are scheduled for March 26-28. The WNIT's Final Four semifinal games will be played on March 30-31, and the WNIT Championship will be held on April 2. All games in the single-elimination format are played at the main or alternate facilities of participating schools.


Four Bulldogs Earn All-Ivy Honors

Sophomore guard Megan Vasquez, senior forward Mady Gobrecht, junior forward Michelle Cashen and freshman forward Janna Graf all earned places on the 2010-11 All-Ivy Team. Vasquez was named to the All-Ivy First Team. She finished the season as the Bulldogs' leading scorer at 13.8 points per game. It is the 17th time that a Yale player earned a spot on the All-Ivy First Team. Gobrecht earned a spot on the All-Ivy Second Team, the first All-Ivy honor of her college career. She was second on the team in scoring (12.0 ppg.) and rebounding (6.4 rpg.). Graf was named to the All-Ivy Rookie Team. She was third on the team in scoring (9.3 ppg.). She was named the Ivy League's Rookie of the Week four times this season and was a Player of the Week once. Cashen earned All-Ivy Honorable Mention after finishing fourth on the Bulldogs in scoring (8.1 ppg.). She also led the Bulldogs in rebounding (6.8 rpg.).


Bulldogs Tie Harvard For 2nd

Yale finished 10-4 in the Ivy League standings for only the second time in its history. The result was a second-place tie in the Ivy standings with Harvard. The only other time that Yale finished 10-4 in the Ivy standings was in 1988-89. It is the third time overall that the Bulldogs have won more than eight Ivy League games in a season. The Bulldogs went 9-5 in 1986-87 and have finished 8-6 in league competition five times until this season.


Historic Weekend In Cambridge

Yale's 78-64 victory over Harvard was a win of historic proportions on Feb. 26. It was Yale's first win at Harvard since Feb. 17, 2001. The win also gave Yale its first season sweep of Harvard since the 1993-94 season. The Bulldogs earned an 82-71 win over Harvard at Yale on Feb. 11.


WBCA Pink Zone

The Bulldogs' Feb. 12 game against Dartmouth was the main event of Yale's all-day WBCA Pink Zone event. The annual fund-raiser, formerly known as "Think Pink," is dedicated to raising awareness and donations for breast cancer research, with this year's proceeds being donated to the Smilow Cancer Hospital. While the final tally of the funds raised from the event is still being calculated, it is already considered the most successful Pink Zone weekend since Yale started participating four years ago. The festivities, which will take place throughout Payne Whitney Gymnasium, will once again include a "Battle of the Badges" competition featuring the Yale and New Haven police and fire departments. The Yale gymnastics team will host the Bulldog Invitational, while the women's and men's swim teams will compete against Brown.


Battle of the Badges Champions

As part of the Pink Zone festivities, the Yale University Athletic Department hosted the annual Battle of the Badges, a bench press fund-raiser to beat breast cancer. The competition consisted of teams of three, with each participant bench-pressing a percentage of his or her body weight. The team with the most total repetitions was declared the winner. There were three divisions in the competition: A Public Safety Division, comprised of teams of police, fire and emergency medical personnel; an Open Division, which featured several teams comprised of football players and other Athletics personnel; and a fraternity and sorority division. The Public Safety Division champion was the team of Dominic Vuolo, Palmer Gaines, and Dawud Amin from the New Haven Fire Department. The Open Division Champion was the team of Mykal Kuslis, Amelia Luciano, and Kate Miller. And finally, the Fraternity and Sorority Champion was the team of Manuel Giner, Adam Hockensmith, and Javier Zapata from the Yale Law School. Congratulations to the champions and all who participated in the competition. 


Breaking Out The Broom

With the 71-59 win at Brown, Yale earned its first sweep of the Bears since the 2007-08 season. Yale opened Ivy play with a 66-54 win at home. Megan Vasquez led all scorers with 18 points and five steals. Mady Gobrecht recorded her second consecutive double-double and third of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Yale has opened Ivy League play with the home-and-home series against Brown in every season since 2002-03.


Ivy League Honor For Vasquez

After scoring 23 points and collecting seven rebounds in the Feb. 26 78-64 win at Harvard, sophomore guard Megan Vasquez was honored by the Ivy League as its Co-Player of the Week. It was her second Player of the Week award this season. She earned the Rookie of the Week honor three times last year on her way to finishing the year with a spot on the All-Rookie team. It was her fifth 20-plus-point performance of the season and third in the last five games.


More Honors For Graf

After leading Yale to wins over Harvard and Dartmouth two weeks ago, freshman forward Janna Graf was named the Ivy League's Rookie of the Week for the fourth time this season for her efforts. Graf was the catalyst in both victories.  She scored a game-high 21 points in Yale's 82-71 win over Harvard on Feb. 11. It was Yale's first win over Harvard since the final game of the 2007-08 season. In the win over Harvard, Graf recorded 20-plus points for the third time this season. She scored 12 of her game-high 21 points in the second half, going 6-for-8 from the floor in the half. She also finished with a career-high seven assists. In the 66-53 win over Dartmouth on Feb. 12, Graf scored 15 points, her ninth double-digit performance of the season, scoring 10 of her 15 points in the second half. She also finished with eight rebounds.


Introducing The Class of 2015

Four players will join the Bulldogs' roster as incoming freshman for the 2011-12 season. On Thursday, Jan. 27, the Bulldogs announced the additions of Sarah Halejian, Hayden Latham, Arrice Bryant and Natasha von Kaeppler. Halejian, a 5-9 guard from Franklin Lakes, N.J., is a two-time North Jersey Player of the Year and entered the season already atop her school's all-time scoring list. Latham, a 5-9 guard from Greenville, S.C., is a two-time South Carolina Coaches Association Women's Sports Player of the Year and a 1,000-point scorer. Bryant, a 6-2 center from Detroit, brings size and power to the roster along with a soft touch around the basket. She was ranked as the No. 39 center in the Class of 2015 by ESPN. Finally, von Kaeppler, a 6-0 forward from Palo Alto, Calif., will join her sister, Ericka, on the roster. Natasha is already her school's all-time leader in rebounds, double-doubles, field-goal percentage and steals.


Cleaning The Glass

In the Jan. 14 win over Brown, Yale outrebounded its opponent for just the second time this season (39-35). Mady Gobrecht was a big reason for the Bulldogs' big night under the glass. Gobrecht grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds in the victory. She secured her second double-double of the season in the win, adding 11 points to the 14 rebounds. She also blocked four shots. 


One For The History Books

Yale earned perhaps the biggest victory in its 38-year history on Saturday, Dec. 18, when it stunned Florida State 91-85. At the time, the Seminoles were ranked 15th in the Associated Press Top 25 and 14th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. It is Yale's first-ever win over a ranked opponent. It was just the second win for the Bulldogs in 10 attempts against an opponent from the ACC. Yale's first win against the ACC came against North Carolina State University on Nov. 22, 2008. Megan Vasquez and Janna Graf each recorded career scoring highs. Vasquez scored 25 points. Michelle Cashen recorded her first double-double of the season (11 points, 13 rebounds), while Graf tallied the first 20-point effort of her Yale career with 22 points. Aarica West dished out 10 assists, becoming the first Bulldog to record at least 10 since Stephanie Marciano had 10 against Stony Brook on Dec. 7, 2007.


Ending The Streak

The historic win over Florida State halted Yale's seven-game losing streak. It was the longest losing streak during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as Yale's head coach since her first season when the Bulldogs began the 2005-06 season with 10 straight losses. The longest losing streak in Yale's history is 11 straight losses, which was recorded twice in the team's 38 seasons.


Graf Reaping The Rewards

After scoring a career-high 26 points to power Yale to a 66-54 win over Brown in the Ivy League opener on Jan. 14, freshman forward Janna Graf became the first Yale player to win both the Ivy League's Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week honors in the same week since Erica Davis won both awards on Jan. 12, 2004. Graf is the first player in the Ivy League to win both honors since Princeton's Addie Micir earned both awards on Jan. 14, 2008. Against Brown, Graf broke her previous high of 22 points. Although she was 10-for-17 overall against the Bears on Jan. 14, she was a stellar 5-for-7 in the second half, including 4-for-6 from 3-point range, Yale used an 18-3 run late in the second half to break the game open. Graf opened and closed the run with a 3-pointer and scored 10 of Yale's 18 points in the run. The effort gave Graf her first Ivy Player of the Week honor and her third Rookie of the Week award in the last four weeks.


Yale Sweeps Ivy Awards

After leading Yale to a pair of victories, including its first-ever win over a nationally ranked opponent, Michelle Cashen, Janna Graf and Megan Vasquez were all honored on Dec. 23 by the Ivy League for their efforts. Cashen was named the Ivy Player of the Week and Graf was named the Ivy Rookie of the Week, while Vasquez earned a place on the weekly Honor Roll. It is the first time Yale has swept the Ivy League's weekly awards since senior Erica Davis and freshman Melissa Colborne won the awards on Jan. 2, 2007. Cashen averaged 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game in the two wins. She scored 11 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the win over then-No. 15/14 Florida State. Against Quinnipiac, Cashen tallied 20 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists. Graf averaged 16.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in the two games. She scored a career-high 22 points and grabbed five rebounds in the victory over Florida State and tallied 11 points and nine rebounds against Quinnipiac. Vasquez averaged 22.5 points in the two wins.


Dish And Assist

Normally, the assists category is dominated by the guards, but in the Ivy League, two Yale post players have found their way onto the leaderboard and stayed there throughout the season. Junior forward Michelle Cashen and senior forward Mady Gobrecht are among the top 10 in the Ivy League in assists. Gobrecht is third in the Ivy League with 3.2 apg., while Cashen is tied for fifth with 3.1 apg. In fact, Yale players take up three of the top five places on the top 10 list. Sophomore guard Aarica West is second in the league with 3.7 assists per game.


The Fab Four

Yale has bolstered its lineup for 2010-11 with four freshmen that are expected to make an immediate impact. Guard Amanda Tyson, forwards Janna Graf and Alexandra Osborn-Jones, and center Zenab Keita comprise one of the strongest freshman classes to join the Yale women's basketball team during Head Coach Chris Gobrecht's tenure.


Every Day is Mother's Day

Senior Mady Gobrecht is the daughter of head coach Chris Gobrecht. They are one of three active parent-daughter, coach-player tandems in Division I women's basketball. The other two are Kim Mulkey and Makenzie Robertson (Baylor) and Joe McKeown and Meghan McKeown (Northwestern). This is the sixth time in Yale's 157-year athletic history that a head coach is mentoring his or her child and the first where the combo is mother-daughter (men's fencing: Robert & Maurice Grasson, 1936-38; baseball: Smoky Joe & Joseph Wood, 1939-41; men's basketball: Howard & David Hobson, 1952-55; men's squash: John & Jack Skillman, 1954-55; football: Jordan & Harry Olivar, 1957-59).


Schedule Strength

Seven teams on the Bulldogs' 2010-11 slate participated in the postseason last spring. Florida State and Princeton earned a berth in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Five others participated in the WNIT, including WNIT champion California.


Postseason For Princeton, Yale

Princeton (23-4, 12-1) wrapped up its second consecutive outright Ivy League title last week with home wins over Dartmouth and Harvard. The League title also gave the Tigers the NCAA automatic bid. Yale (14-14, 10-4) wrapped up its regular season with a split at home, but was able to secure a tie for second place in the Ivy standings, and earned the League's automatic WNIT bid.


Double-Double Trouble

During the 2010-11 season, 27 Ivy League players have recorded at least one double-double this season. Yale's Megan Vasquez, Michelle Cashen and Mady Gobrecht are all members of the club. Twelve Ivy players have tallied at least two double-doubles, including Gobrecht (3). Columbia's Kathleen Barry leads all Ivy League players with seven double-doubles. Dartmouth's Brittany Smith had four and Princeton's Niveen Rasheed had three before both suffered season-ending injuries.


Twenty-Point Performances

Twenty-five Ivy players have recorded at least one performance of 20 points or more this season. Penn's Alyssa Baron led the League with seven outings of 20 points or more. The rookie also holds the League's lone 30-plus point output of the season, a 38-point performance on Feb. 5 in an overtime loss at Harvard. Twelve other Ivies have had multiple games of 20 points or more, including Yale's Megan Vasquez who reached that mark five times.

Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity