Yale is set to complete this short two-game homestand with a matinee contest against the Terriers of St. Francis (N.Y.), the first game between the two teams since Dec. 13, 1995. The Bulldogs are looking for their first win since sweeping the two games of the David Jones Classic at the University of Houston on Nov. 25 and 26. Yale is coming off of a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of Boston University in which the Bulldogs came within two points of erasing a 20-point second-half deficit. Junior guard Megan Vasquez continues to lead the Bulldogs. Her 15.9 ppg. scoring average is fourth among Ivy League players. She has led the Bulldogs in scoring in each of the last three seasons. Yale welcomes a St. Francis team that is looking for just its second win this season. The Terriers are led by freshman forward Jaymee Veney, who has averaged 10.2 ppg. The Terriers have been without one of their best players, Jessica Kaufman. The freshman forward averaged 9.2 ppg. and 7.4 rpg. through the first five games, but she has missed the last five games.
Scouting St. Francis (N.Y.)
St. Francis is just 1-9 this season, but without a 48-44 win over Ivy League opponent Columbia, the Terriers would be coming into Yale with a 28-game losing streak. The win over Columbia snapped a 21-game slide that dated back to last season. The Terriers have struggled mightily over the last four seasons, going 9-88 since the start of the 2008-09 season, including 5-36 against non-conference opponents. The Terriers play in a competitive Northeast Conference that includes a trio of opponents from Connecticut in Quinnipiac, Central Connecticut State University and Sacred Heart. St. Francis lost eight players from last season, including three starters, but a freshmen class that includes eight new faces were added to the lineup in hopes of turning things around in 2011-12. Through 10 games this season, five of the top six scorers on the Terriers' roster are freshmen, including leading scorer Jaymee Veney, who is averaging 10.2 ppg. and 5.4 rpg. She has picked up the slack for fellow freshman Jessica Kaufman (9.2 ppg., 7.4 rpg.), who was the team's leading scorer and rebounder through the first five games of the season. However, she's missed the last five games with an undisclosed injury and it is not known when she will return.
Yale has faced St. Francis just twice before today's game. This is the first meeting between the two teams since Dec. 13, 1995. The series is tied, with both teams winning one game at home. St. Francis earned a 66-48 home win on Dec. 30, 1994, while Yale returned the favor with a 53-41 win in New Haven a year later.
Thorn in the Ivy
Today's game marks the third game this season against an Ivy League opponent for St. Francis. The Terriers are 1-1 against Ivy opponets, including a 48-44 win over Columbia on Nov. 23, and a 70-61 loss to Penn in which the Quakers trailed 27-20 at halftime and had to go into overtime before they could put the Terriers away. The Terriers are 10-27 all-time against Ivy League foes.
Eight of the players on the St. Francis roster are freshmen, and the Terriers have just two juniors and three sophomores. There are no seniors on the squad, so head coach Brenda Milano has to rely on her eight freshmen to make an immediate impact. So far, they haven't disappointed their coach. Of the 479 points scored by the Terriers in their 10 games this season, the eight freshmen have accounted for 315 of those points, or 65.8 percent of the team's total scoring output.
Two of the Terriers' players hail from Connecticut. Sarah Benedetti was the No. 2 leading scorer in Canton High's history (1,653 points), while Kelly Myers scored over 1,000 points and grabbed more than 1,000 rebounds while starring at Coventry High. Benedetti has started five games and is averaging 5.8 points and 1.9 rebounds per game for the Terriers, while Myers has averaged 3.0 points and 2.6 rebounds off the bench.
Oh So Close ...
Yale nearly pulled off one of the biggest comebacks in the program's history in its previous outing, only to fall just short in the game's final minute. Trailing 38-18 to Boston University with 16:32 left in the game, Yale stormed back to cut the deficit to just two points in the closing seconds. Junior guard Megan Vasquez scored 20 of her game-high 22 points in the second half to fuel the comeback. Freshman Hayden Latham scored seven of her season-high 12 points in the second-half comeback and was a stellar 8-for-9 from the free-throw line. Down by 20, Yale responded with an 11-2 run to trim the deficit to 40-29 with 12:59 left. Vasquez scored nine of her points in that run. B.U. was on top 51-41 with 6:26 remaining, but the Bulldogs had one more run in them. This time, the Bulldogs used a 13-3 run behind another nine points from Vasquez to pull to within two points (56-54) with 35 seconds left, but that was as close as they could get. Yale trailed 30-14 at halftime. The Terriers' defense kept the Bulldogs off-balance throughout the first half, holding the Bulldogs to just five points and only one field goal over the final 11:47 of the half. Yale was just 4-of-21 shooting from the floor in the first half, including 0-for-6 from 3-point range.
Yale is playing host to the Terriers for the second straight game. The Bulldogs took on the Boston University Terriers on Dec. 7, and the St. Francis (N.Y.) Terriers come to John J. Lee Amphitheater for today's contest. Yale is 3-12 all-time against schools that call themselves Terriers, including 1-1 against St. Francis and 2-11 against Boston University.
Taking on the Nation's Best
Including the loss at No. 22 Delaware on Dec. 5, Yale has faced four teams that have either earned a spot in the national rankings or have received votes in either of the Top 25 polls at one point this season. Yale has faced two ranked teams, including No. 1 Baylor and No. 22 Delaware, while it has also faced Marist and Houston, which both received votes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Preseason Poll. Yale is 1-3 in those contests, with the only win coming at Houston. The Bulldogs are also slated to visit Florida State on Dec. 28. The Seminoles were ranked No. 13 earlier this season. And the list of those games do not include the two games that await Yale against Princeton once the Ivy League season begins. The Tigers received votes in both Top 25 polls earlier this season.
Halejian's Helping Hand
Freshman guard Sarah Halejian has come on strong in the seven games following a scoreless collegiate debut in Yale's season opener against Holy Cross, averaging 7.1 points per game over that stretch. She scored nine points against Fairleigh Dickinson at the Hackensack, N.J. campus. Growing up just 12 miles away, the Wyckoff, N.J., native erased the memory of her scoreless debut with a strong performance in front of many friends and family who came out to support her and her Yale teammates. Halejian scored five points in the loss at Marist, but she saved her best showing for the nation's best team. Halejian scored a team-high 13 points against the Baylor Bears. She hit five of her nine shots, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range. Halejian scored another five points in Yale's loss at Delaware on Dec. 5.
The Dec. 5 game at Delaware marked the end of a six-game stretch away from the friendly confines of John J. Lee Amphitheater for Yale. The rules of the road have been routine for the Bulldogs, with 14 of their first 20 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.
Milestone Watch for Vasquez
Following a 22-point effort against Boston University on Dec. 7, junior guard Megan Vasquez has now scored 815 career points. She needs just 185 points to reach 1,000 career points. She now has four 20-point outings this season. She also scored 23 points in the season-opening win over Holy Cross, 21 points at Marist, and 22 points at Houston. 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 pace, 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