Yale returns home Sunday in hopes of bouncing back from last week's loss at Florida State. The task ahead is a tough one as the Bulldogs welcome Army to John J. Lee Amphitheater. The Black Knights have won six of the last seven meetings with the Bulldogs and lead the all-time series, 16-9. With losses in four of their last five games, and six of their last nine, the Bulldogs are hoping to end the non-league slate on a high note with three games remaining before they jump into the Ivy League portion of the schedule. Junior guard Megan Vasquez continues to lead the Bulldogs with an average of 13.8 points per game. Sophomore Janna Graf has come on strong of late and is averaging 10.4 ppg. and 5.6 rpg. Yale plays host to an Army team that won five of its first six games but has since lost six of its last seven games, including the last five in a row. The Black Knights are led by sophomore Jen Hazlett, who is leading the team in scoring and rebounding with 12.9 ppg. and 6.9 rpg. Junior Anna Simmers is second on the team in scoring (10.0 ppg).
Army has struggled following the Thanksgiving holiday, losing its last five games and six of its last seven games. The Black Knights enter Sunday's game with a 6-7 record, all in non-conference play. The Black Knights are led by sophomore Jen Hazlett and junior Anna Simmers. Hazlett is leading the team in scoring (12.9 ppg.) and rebounding (6.9 rpg.) Simmers is second in scoring (10.0 ppg). Army will battle under the boards, with five players averaging 4.1 rebounds or more. The Black Knights do not score a lot of points, with only two players averaging in double figures and the team scoring an average of 56.9 ppg. However, they will make up for that with a stingy defense that allows only 53.8 points per game. While 15 of the 17 players on the roster have seen action this season, only six are averaging more than 3.9 ppg. and six are averaging less than 2.0 ppg.
All in the Family
Freshman forward Olivia Shretzman knew the U.S. Military Academy was a perfect fit for her since she was a child. Her father, Lt. Col. Chuck Schretzman was stationed at West Point during part of her childhood and she attended Army basketball camp as an adolescent. Lt. Col. Schretzman is currently deployed in Afghanistan, while his wife, Stacy, works in the Army athletic department's admission's support office. Stacy lettered in women's basketball at Army during the 1985-86 season. Olivia's older brother, Zack, is a sophomore at West Point and manager of the women's basketball team. Olivia has started 12 of 13 games and is averaging 5.0 rebounds per contest. became the first rookie to start her first collegiate game at forward/center since Army Hall of Famer Katie Macfarlane '04. Macfarlane went on to become the Black Knights' all-time leading scorer (1,941) and rebounder (1,143).
Junior guard Molly Yardley is a Milford native and a former Lauralton Hall standout. She is Army's only returning starter from last season. Yardley is third on the team in scoring, with an average of 9.8 ppg. She has started all 13 games this season and 36 of the 68 games that she has played in her career at West Point. She is also writing an online blog this season on Army's website. "The Whole Nine Yards," which debuted during the team's preseason workouts, offers an inside look into lives of the Army women's basketball team. Yardley's blog is posted weekly on www.goARMYsports.com.
Junior guard Liz Benedict may seem a little out of place on a college basketball roster. She just happens to be four years older than your normal college junior, but she is in the midst of her most productive season to date. An original member of the West Point Class of 2012, a shoulder injury and ensuing surgery led her to leave the Academy and return as a plebe in 2009-10. Benedict has started at point guard in each of the last six games. She has logged more minutes (19.4 per game) at point guard than any other player on the roster. She tallied a career-high 13 points in a win over Manhattanville (Nov. 25), a game in which she drained four 3-pointers. Benedict has played in 55 career contests and made seven career starts.
Like Father, Like Daughter
Army head coach Dave Magarity's oldest daughter, Maureen, took over as the head coach at the University of New Hampshire prior to the 2010-11 season. The Magaritys are the only father-daughter head coaching duo in Division I. Maureen was an associate head coach under her father at Army before leaving for UNH. Magarity, who boasts nearly 30 years of head coaching experience, is one of just four active Division I women's basketball coaches to make the transition from coaching men's basketball to coaching women. The short list also includes Paul Westhead (Oregon), Alan LeForce (Coastal Carolina) and Dennis Wolfe (Virginia Tech).
Last Time Out
Yale pulled off the biggest upset in its history when it stunned then-No. 14 Florida State, 91-85, in New Haven on Dec. 18, 2010. This time around, Florida State made certain from the opening tip that it would not fall victim to Yale's upset dreams a second time. Five players scored in double figures to lead a balanced scoring attack as Florida State cruised past Yale, 92-58, on Dec. 28, 2011, in Tallahassee. Alexa Deluzio scored 15 of her game-high 20 points in the opening half. Chelsea Davis recorded a double-double, with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Cierra Bravard, who was taken out of the starting lineup, came off the bench and scored 12 of her points in the first half on 5-of-7 shooting in the half. Florida State shot a blistering 62.3 percent (38-for-61) and outscored Yale 18-0 on fast-break points. The Seminoles also dominated the paint, outrebounding the Bulldogs 49-29 and outscoring the Bulldogs 60-8 in the paint. Yale struggled from the opening tip. Janna Graf scored Yale's first nine points en route to an 18-point night. No other Yale player reached double figures, though freshman Hayden Latham had nine points, while Michelle Cashen and Alexandra Osborn-Jones each chipped in eight points. The Bulldogs shot 17-for-66 (25.8 percent), their worst shooting performance in a game this season.
Return to Tallahassee
Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball at Yale, is making her first return to Tallahassee since she coached at Florida State in the 1996-97 season. Gobrecht took over for then-FSU head coach Marynell Meadors, who is now the head coach of the WNBA's Atlanta Dream. When Gobrecht arrived at FSU, the Seminoles had struggled through four straight sub-.500 seasons, including three seasons where the Seminoles combined for a total of 22 wins (6-21/93-94, 8-22/94-95, 8-20/95-96). FSU showed promise early on in Gobrecht's only season in Tallahassee, winning three straight games before Christmas to improve to 5-4 on the season. However, the challenges of playing in the always-tough Atlantic Coast Conference overwhelmed the Seminoles that season, and they finished the year with a 5-22 overall record, 0-16 in ACC play. Gobrecht left after that season to become the head coach at her alma mater, Southern California, where she coached for seven seasons before coming to Yale.
First for Vasquez
Junior guard Megan Vasquez, Yale's leading scorer in each of her three seasons on the team, may be close to becoming the 17th player in the program's history to record 1,000 career points, but her chase to reach that milestone hit a road block during Yale's game at Florida State. For the first time in her collegiate career, Vasquez was held scoreless in a game. Vasquez was 0-for-6 from the floor, 0-for-5 from 3-point range, for zero points against the Seminoles. That performance snapped a 65-game streak in which she scored at least two points in a game. Her previous low in her Yale career was two points, recorded last season in Yale's 52-37 loss at home to Princeton on Jan. 29, 2011. Her previous low this season was six points, tallied twice this season at Baylor (Nov. 22) and at Quinnipiac (Dec. 20).
Ivy Quest on Horizon
The quest for the Ivy League championship is now less than a week away as Penn and Princeton tip off the double round-robin schedule on Jan. 7 at Penn. As the only Division I conference without a postseason tournament, the League's 14-game conference slate becomes the "tournament" to determine which Ivy team wins the title and earns an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament. The team that finishes the season in second place earns the Ivy League's automatic bid to the Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT). Yale earned its first-ever WNIT bid last season after finishing a program-best 10-4 in league play. Yale has three games left on its non-league schedule before it begins Ivy League play at Brown on Jan. 13. Princeton is the two-time defending Ivy League champion. Yale is pursuing its first Ivy League championship since the 1978-79 season, when the league champion was determined in a mid-season tournament.
Picking on the Patriot
For the fourth straight season, Yale will face Holy Cross, Army and Bucknell. All three teams play in the Patriot League. In the previous three seasons, Yale is 6-3 against the Patriot trio. Yale went 2-1 last season against the three teams, beating Holy Cross on the road and Bucknell at home, but falling at Army. The Bulldogs swept the three teams two years ago, but dropped two of the three games in 2008-09, gaining the lone win against Holy Cross.
Second-Half Slide in Hamden
Yale made the short drive to Hamden, Conn., to face in-state rival Quinnipiac hoping to head into the holiday break on a winning note. Quinnipiac had other ideas. Felicia Barron tallied 24 points, five rebounds and five steals, while Brittany McQuain added 13 points and 13 rebounds, to lead Quinnipiac to a 68-63 victory over Yale on Dec. 20, 2011. Janna Graf scored 15 of her 16 points in the first half and had a career-high four steals, all in the first half, to lead Yale. Yale led 34-32 at halftime behind Graf's effort. But the story was far different in the second half. With the score tied 44-44 with 11:15 left, Quinnipiac opened up a 13-point lead thanks to a 17-4 run over a 7:04 span, using a 3-pointer from Barron with 4:09 left to take a 61-48 lead. Yale picked up the defensive intensity over the closing minutes, which fueled a 15-5 run that cut the deficit to 66-63 with 4 seconds left, but Jasmine Martin sank a pair of free throws with 2 seconds on the clock to secure the win for Quinnipiac.
Thanks to her play against St. Francis, freshman guard Sarah Halejian earned recognition as the Ivy League's Co-Rookie of the Week on Dec. 19. 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.
Dominance over St. Francis
Megan Vasquez scored 19 points, while freshman guard Sarah Halejian poured in a personal-best 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting, to lead Yale to a 72-41 win over St. Francis (N.Y.) in New Haven on Dec. 18, 2011. In what was the Bulldogs' final home game of 2011, they put on a defensive clinic in front of the home crowd. With the game tied 15-15 with 7:49 remaining in the first half, the Bulldogs outscored the Terriers 57-26 over the final 27:49 of the game. The Yale defense forced 28 St. Francis turnovers, 19 coming from steals. The Bulldogs 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. Freshman Hayden Latham scored all eight of her points in the second half. Junior guard Allie Messimer, who earned her first start since Dec. 6, 2010, scored seven of her nine points in the second half.
Milestone Watch for Vasquez
Junior guard Megan Vasquez has now scored 840 career points. She needs just 160 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.
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.
Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr./Yale Sports Publicity