Yale is preparing to return to the road for a pair of games beginning with today's key matchup against in-state rival Quinnipiac, the Bulldogs' second consecutive game against a Northeast Conference opponent. Yale is looking for its first win at Quinnipiac since Dec. 1, 1999. The Bulldogs are coming off of a dominating 72-41 victory over St. Francis (N.Y.) on Sunday. It was Yale's first win since Nov. 26. Junior guard Megan Vasquez continues to lead the Bulldogs. With 19 points on Sunday, she raised her scoring average to 16.2 ppg., which is fourth among Ivy League players. Yale visits a Quinnipiac team that has been nearly unbeatable of late. Since losing their first two games of the season, the Bobcats have won six of their last seven games, the only loss coming against NEC rival Sacred Heart. The Bobcats are led by Felicia Baron, who has averaged 15.6 ppg, and Brittany McQuain, who is averaging close to a double-double (11.9 ppg., 9.7 rpg.).
Quinnipiac is 6-3 overall, 1-1 in Northeast Conference play, but that record is a little misleading. The Bobcats lost the first two games of their season, but they have been nearly unbeatable of late, winning six of their last seven games. The only loss in that stretch came against in-state NEC rival Sacred Heart. The Bobcats are 3-2 at home this season. One of the biggest keys to Quinnipiac's success this season has been its stopping power. The Bobcats have recorded at least 10 steals in eight of their nine games this season, including a season-high 20 steals against Bryant, and they rank 48th in the nation in steals per game with an average of 11.6 per game. Junior Felicia Barron is averaging 6.2 steals per game, which is currently leading the nation. The Bobcats are also tough on the boards, outrebounding six of their nine opponents this season. The team's leading rebounder is sophomore Brittany McQuain, who is averaging 9.1 rebounds per game, which is 41st in the nation.
Yale has faced Quinnipiac 15 times prior to today's game. The Bobcats lead the series 8-7, but the Bulldogs won the previous meeting, a 74-68 victory at Yale on Dec. 20, 2010. Yale won the first four games of the series that dates back to 1980. Quinnipiac won the next six games, but the two teams have split the series since, with the home team winning every game of the series since 2005-06 season. In the history of the series, Yale has not scored 70 points or more in games played at Quinnipiac since 1999. The two teams met in 1980 and 1981 before a 17-year break. The teams have met every season since 1998.
The Last Meeting With Yale
Coming off of an upset 91-85 win over then-No. 14 Florida State for the first win over a ranked opponent in the its history, it would have been understandable if the emotional high from that win took a toll on the Bulldogs' focus for Quinnipiac. Despite early signs of trouble, the Bulldogs found a way to prevail.Quinnipiac scored the game's first six points and opened up a 10-point lead midway through the first half, but Yale closed the deficit to 35-33 at halftime and took control in the second half to earn the 74-68 win at Yale. Michelle Cashen and Megan Vasquez each scored 20 points to lead Yale (3-7). Cashen also added eight rebounds, eight assists and four steals, falling just short of the first triple-double in Yale's history. Janna Graf had 11 points and nine rebounds, while Mady Gobrecht added 10 points.
Bobcats' Previous Outing
Quinnipiac earned its fifth non-conference win and second victory over an Atlantic-10 team this season with a 72-67 overtime win at Rhode Island on Dec. 10. Felicia Barron's season-high 22 points powered the Bobcats to victory. Brittany McQuain scored 13 points in the second half and overtime. It was Quinnipiac's first overtime game of the year. Kari Goodchild and Jasmine Martin also posted double figures with 11 and 12 points, respectively. Goodchild's 11 points were a season-high for the senior captain. The Bobcats went 25-for-58 from the floor at Rhode Island for a season-high 43.1 percent.
Back on Track
Yale earned its first win since Nov. 26 with a dominating performance over St. Francis (N.Y.), pulling away in the second half for a 72-41 victory at Yale on Sunday. The Bulldogs outscored the Terriers 57-26 over the final 27:49 of the game. Junior guard Megan Vasquez scored 19 points, while freshman guard Sarah Halejian poured in a personal-best 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting. The Yale defense forced 28 St. Francis turnovers, 19 coming from steals. The Bulldogs limited the Terriers to just eight field goals in the second half, and they used 17 Terrier turnovers to fuel an offensive outburst that resulted in 44 second-half points. It was Yale's most points in a half since it scored 46 in the second half of the Nov. 14 win at Fairleigh Dickinson. Vasquez fell just one point shy of her fifth 20-point performance of the season. She also had five assists and five steals, matching a career-high mark in steals that she set in a win at Brown on Jan. 21, 2011.
Thanks to her play against St. Francis, freshman guard Sarah Halejian earned recognition as the Ivy League's Co-Rookie of the Week on Monday. She poured in a personal-best 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting against the Terriers. She surpassed her previous season-high of 13, set on Nov. 22 at Baylor. She also matched a season-high with three rebounds and added two steals in her fourth start of the season. Halejian shared this week's rookie award with Cornell freshman Marissa Rakestraw. Following a scoreless collegiate debut in Yale's season opener against Holy Cross, Halejian has averaged 8.0 points per game in Yale's last eight games.
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. 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.
Oh So Close ...
Yale nearly pulled off one of the biggest comebacks in the program's history against Boston University, only to fall just short in the game's final minute on Dec. 7. Trailing 38-18 with 16:32 left in the game, Yale stormed back to cut the deficit to just two points in the closing seconds. Megan Vasquez scored 20 of her game-high 22 points in the second half to fuel the comeback. Hayden Latham scored seven of her season-high 12 points in the second half and was a stellar 8-for-9 from the free-throw line. Down by 20, Yale responded with an 11-2 run behind nine points from Vasquez to trim the deficit to 40-29 with 12:59 left. B.U. was on top 51-41 with 6:26 remaining, but 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.
Milestone Watch for Vasquez
Following a 19-point effort against St. Francis (N.Y.) on Dec. 18, junior guard Megan Vasquez has now scored 834 career points. She needs just 166 points to reach 1,000 career points. She now has four 20-point outings this season, including Holy Cross (23), Marist (21), Houston (22) and Boston University (22). 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