The Yale University women's basketball team is looking to improve its 2011-12 record to 3-0 when it travels to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to meet Marist. It is the first meeting between the two teams since the 2007-08 season. Friday's game is the second of six straight games away from home for the Bulldogs. The Red Foxes are one of four teams on Yale's schedule that received votes in the USA Today/ESPN Preseason Coaches Poll. Through two games, the Bulldogs have been led by junior guard Megan Vasquez (17.0 ppg.), Yale's leading scorer in each of the last two seasons, senior captain Michelle Cashen (13.5 ppg., 4.0 rpg.) and a sensational start from freshman forward Hayden Latham (9.5 ppg., 6.0 apg.), who dished out 10 assists in the season opener and was one of three players who scored in double figures in Monday's game at Fairleigh Dickinson. Yale's starting lineup features two sophomores, including 2011 All-Ivy Rookie Team selection Janna Graf, and a freshman (Latham).
Marist finished the 2010-11 season with a stellar 31-3 overall record, including a perfect 18-0 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play. Great things are expected once again from the Red Foxes in 2011-12. The Red Foxes were a unanimous choice to win the MAAC in the preseason coaches' poll and they are led by senior guard Corielle Yarde, the MAAC preseason player of the year. Returning starters from last season include Yarde and Brandy Gang. Yarde was 10th in the league in scoring last season and third in field goal percentage, averaging 11.8 points per game and shooting 43.9 percent from the field. Gang averaged 8.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game during her junior campaign for the Red Foxes. 2011 MAAC Coach of the Year Brian Giorgis will also look to sophomore Leanne Ockenden, senior Kristine Best and sophomore Emma O'Connor to help lead Marist this season. Marist returns 10 players from last season's squad and adds a highly touted recruiting class that includes three freshmen and one transfer.
Rising Through The Ranks
Marist is five places out of this week's USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Top 25 Poll, receiving 24 votes. The Red Foxes also received seven votes in the Preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll. Marist finished the 2010-11 season ranked #19 in the AP poll. Marist is currently ranked fourth in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25. The Red Foxes also received one first-place vote. Green Bay, Gonzaga and Princeton are the only teams ahead of Marist in the latest poll.
The last time that Marist didn't win or share the MAAC's regular-season championship, George W. Bush wasn't yet halfway through his first term as President of the United States. The Red Foxes have won or shared eight consecutive MAAC crowns, sharing first place in 2003-04 and winning outright every year since. The Red Foxes enter 2011-12 looking for their seventh consecutive championship.
Friday's game in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., marks the fourth-ever meeting between the two teams. Yale leads the overall series, 2-1. The Bulldogs won the first two meetings, 94-72 on March 3, 1979, and 67-52 on Dec. 22, 2007, with both wins coming at Yale. Marist's lone win in the series came on Nov. 29, 2008, a 77-62 win over Yale in Poughkeepsie.
Marist opened the 2011-12 season at home against Big East power Villanova, a Yale opponent last season. Despite the pomp and circumstance that came with the opener, that began with a ring ceremony and MAAC championship banner raising into the rafters of the newly renovated McCann Arena, Villanova failed to follow the script and tripped up Marist, 60-53, on Wednesday. Corielle Yarde led the Red Foxes with 18 points and six rebounds. It was the second straight season that Marist opened its season with a home loss to a Big East opponent (St. John's, 64-50).
Winning Ways Continue
Yale improved its record to 2-0 with a dominating 80-51 win at Fairleigh Dickinson on Monday. Senior captain Michelle Cashen scored 10 of her team-high 12 points to lead the Bulldogs. Junior guard Megan Vasquez scored all 11 points in the second half. The Bulldogs used a balanced offensive effort and a suffocating defense to run away with the victory in the second half. Seven Bulldogs scored at least eight points. Yale held FDU to just four points over the final 7:01 of the game, forcing a total of 30 turnovers by the Knights' offense. Trailing 12-6 after the opening five minutes of play, Yale used a 17-2 run to pull ahead and cruised to a 34-24 halftime lead. Fairleigh Dickinson (0-2) opened the second half with an 8-2 run to trim Yale's lead to 36-32, but Vasquez drained a 3-pointer to jumpstart a 13-4 run that gave Yale a 49-36 lead and put the game out of reach.
Friday's game at Marist marks the second of six straight games away from the friendly confines of John J. Lee Amphitheater for Yale. The rules of the road will quickly become routine for the Bulldogs, with 14 of the next 19 games on the road. The Bulldogs can find comfort in the fact that six of the final eight games will be played inside John J. Lee Amphitheater, at about the same time that the Bulldogs hope to be making a run at the Ivy League championship.
On The Road To 500
Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball at Yale, currently holds a 489-416 career coaching record following the season-opening win over Holy Cross. She needs just 12 wins to reach 500 career coaching victories, all at the Division I level. She currently ranks 21st among active coaches for Division I coaching wins. Gobrecht is among six coaches who could reach the 500-win milestone this season. Here is the list of the coaches vying for their 500th win this season, with their win totals are updated through games played on Nov. 13:
Coach School Wins
Milestone Watch for Vasquez
Following a game-high 23 points in the season-opening win over Holy Cross and another 11 points against Fairleigh Dickinson, junior guard Megan Vasquez has now scored 722 career points. She needs just 278 points to reach 1,000 career points. Vasquez scored 322 points in her freshman season and 366 points last season. If she approaches her average of 344 points from her first two seasons, she should reach the 1,000-point milestone at some point during the Ivy League season. In doing so, Vasquez will become the 17th player in Yale's history to reach 1,000 career points. The last Bulldog to reach the milestone was Melissa Colborne, who closed out her career with 1,418 points, fifth on Yale's all-time scoring list. If Vasquez continues to maintain her 344-point average per season, she would finish in sixth place on Yale's all-time list with 1,376 career points.
Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity