Vasquez Nets 1,000th Career Point, Gobrecht Records 500th Career Victory
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball at Yale University pointed to junior guard Megan Vasquez as a major factor in her recent success at Yale, so it makes sense that both reached historic milestones in their careers on the same night.
Vasquez matched her career-high with 25 points, becoming the 17th player in Yale's history to surpass 1,000 career points, to lead the Bulldogs to a 86-73 win over Cornell at John J. Lee Amphitheater Friday night.
The victory was the 500th of Gobrecht's 32-year coaching career.
"To me personally, that's meaningful that we both got the milestones in the same game because Megan has had a lot to do with the last bunch of wins, that's for sure, and I thought she played superbly tonight," Gobrecht said. "I'm glad it happened for both of us. I kind of had a feeling that if it was going to happen for me, it would happen for her too because I needed her help to get there."
Following the final buzzer, the Yale players celebrated Gobrecht's accomplishment by dumping water over her head. It was not quite the type of celebration that fans would see after a football win, with the big bucket of ice water, but inside the Lee Amphitheater, this was as close to that as the Bulldogs could get.
"I am so happy for both of them," senior captain Michelle Cashen said. "I think it makes it that much more special that they both reached their milestones tonight in the same game. It definitely makes the evening much more special. We have two celebrations, and I don't think either one of them could have asked for a better way to do it."
Vasquez scored 16 of her 25 points in a dominating first half by Yale, who improved to 13-8 overall and 5-2 in the Ivy League with the victory. The Bulldogs were firing all cylinders, especially from long distance, shooting 10-for-19 (52.6 percent) from 3-point range, to open up a 41-25 lead at halftime. Vasquez was 4-for-6 from 3-point range in the first half to help fuel the Bulldogs' initial offensive outburst.
It was the seventh 20-point outing of the season for Vasquez. She now has 12 games with 20 or more points in her career. Yale's leading scorer in each of her three seasons, Vasquez has averaged 344 points per season so far. If she continues at that pace, she would finish in sixth place on Yale's all-time scoring list with 1,376 career points. The last Yale player to reach the 1,000-point milestone was Melissa Colborne, who passed the mark on Jan. 23, 2009, in a 71-37 win over Brown.
"I just came into the game ready to play. I didn't care about getting the 20 points, but my shot was just falling and I kept shooting," Vasquez said. "We knew they were going to play a zone defense and we knew we had to spread things out and attack the gaps. Every time we attacked the gaps, we were able to kick it back out for the open shot."
Vazquez wasn't the only Bulldog to have a career night in the victory. Junior guard Aarica West matched a career-high with 10 assists, including nine in the first half alone. Sophomore guard Janna Graf added 14 points and four rebounds, while junior guard Allie Messimer scored 12 points. Senior captain Michelle Cashen scored seven points and pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.
Spencer Lane scored 18 points to lead Cornell (9-11, 3-3 Ivy League). Clare Fitzpatrick added 14 points.
Even with the offense firing on all cylinders, the Bulldogs could not completely shake the Big Red, no matter how hard it tried.
Yale used an 8-0 run to open up a 22-10 lead with 12:57 left in the first half, but Cornell managed to trim that deficit to just six points over the next seven minutes, pulling to within 25-19 on Fitzpatrick's layup with 5:48 left. That was as close as Cornell would get for the remainder of the game. Yale outscored Cornell 16-6 through the remainder of the half behind eight points from Graf and five from Vasquez to go into the halftime break leading 41-25.
The Bulldogs never let the lead dip into single digits the rest of the way.
A pair of free throws by Lane helped Cornell cut the deficit to 12 points, 49-37, with 15:03 left, but Yale went on a 19-8 run to jump out to its biggest lead of the game, 68-45, with 7:43 left. That didn't deter the Big Red, however, which managed to get as close as 11 points with 2:59 left thanks to a 17-5 run. Despite several attempts over the final minutes, Cornell could get no closer than that.
"Cornell is a team that doesn't go away, that's for sure," Cashen said. "That is something that we are going to need to work on, because when we are up there on the second night of the Ivy weekend off of that five-hour bus ride, we can't settle. They showed us that they are not going to go away. They are a proud team and they are not just going to give up."
Prior to the start of the season, Gobrecht looked at the tough schedule that was waiting for her team and thought it would be difficult for the Bulldogs to win the 13 games necessary for her to reach her 500th career victory this season. It turns out that her players were up for the challenge.
"I'm kind of surprised we got to the 13 wins this early," Gobrecht said. "I think that we got a good number of those 50-50 games in the non-conference season, and that was important. We have come out of the blocks pretty good in the Ivy League season too. I'm just looking forward to getting win No. 14 now."
That could come as soon as tomorrow when Columbia comes to Lee Amphitheater in the main event of the Yale Athletics Pink Zones weekend. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.