The race for the Ivy League's two postseason berths is starting to heat up with the second-place Yale women's basketball team (14-8, 6-2 Ivy League) hosting Dartmouth Friday and third-place Harvard on Saturday. The Yale-Dartmouth matchup will be broadcast live on the YES Network as part of the Yale on YES television package. The Bulldogs earned a road sweep of Harvard and Dartmouth three weeks ago. Yale has won the last five meetings with Dartmouth and the last three in a row against Harvard.
Vasquez Joins Yale's Elite
With her first free throw with 13:34 left in Yale's win over Cornell, junior guard Megan Vasquez recorded her 1,000th career point, becoming the 17th player in Yale's history to reach 1,000 career points. She scored a total of 25 points in Friday's game and added a career-high 28 points in Saturday's win over Columbia to move into 15th place on Yale's all-time scoring list with 1,033 points. The last Bulldog to reach 1,000 points was Melissa Colborne, who closed out her career with 1,418 points, fifth on Yale's all-time list. Vasquez is on pace to break 400 points in a season for the first time in her career. She has now had eight 20-point outings this season and a total of 13 20-point performances in her career. Vasquez scored 322 points in her freshman season and 366 points last season. If Vasquez maintains her pace, she could pass Colborne move into the top five on Yale's all-time scoring list.
Gobrecht Joins 500 Club
Yale head coach Chris Gobrecht became the fourth coach this season to surpass 500 career victories with Yale's 86-73 win over Cornell on Feb. 10. Counting the win over Columbia on Feb. 11, Gobrecht now holds a 501-424 overall record, all at the Division I level. She currently ranks 22nd among active coaches for Division I coaching wins. At the start of the season, six coaches were on the verge of their 500th career win. Holy Cross coach Bill Gibbons became the first of the six to reach 500 wins on Dec. 3. DePaul head coach Doug Bruno (12/31) and Kennesaw State head coach Colby Tilly (1/7) have also joined the 500-win club this season. Gobrecht has coached for five programs in her career. She went 84-92 at Cal-State Fullerton, 243-89 at Washington, where she is the Huskies' all-time winningest head coach, 5-22 in one season at Florida State, and 93-108 at Southern California, her alma mater. To date, Gobrecht is 76-113 in her seven seasons at Yale, which is the third most coaching victories in Yale's history. She needs three wins to pass Diann Nestel (79-78) and 31 wins to pass Cecelia DeMarco (107-127), Yale's all-time winningest head coach.
Vasquez Nets Ivy Honor
After playing the two best games in her Yale career, Megan Vasquez was named the Ivy League's Player of the Week on Monday. She averaged 26.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in the sweep of Cornell and Columbia. It is the third Player of the Week honor of her career and first this season. She has been honored by the League office six times in her career, including three Rookie of the Week honors.
Dartmouth snapped a 13-game losing streak, the longest in its history, with a 59-44 win at Columbia on Feb. 3, but the Big Green has since lost its last three games. All three of Dartmouth's wins this season have come on the road. The Big Green is 0-10 at home, but 3-8 away from Hanover. The Big Green has been outscored by an average of 15.0 points per game this season, and it has averaged just 51.7 points per game, while allowing a League-high 66.7 points per game. Dartmouth ranks at the bottom of the Ivy League in several categories, including scoring margin, rebounding (35.9 rpg.), rebounding margin (-5.5), assists (10.0 apg.), steals (6.7 spg.), turnover margin (-7.3), and offensive rebounds per game (9.9). However, the Big Green currently leads the Ivy League in blocks (4.8 bpg.). Dartmouth is looking for its second Ivy League win of the season. Junior Faziah Steen leads the Big Green in scoring (15.6 ppg.), the only double-figure scorer on the roster.
Dartmouth and Yale will meet for the 70th time on Friday in a series that dates back to Yale's first season as a varsity program in 1973-74. While Dartmouth leads the series 50-19, with a 9-6 edge in the last 15 meetings, Yale has won the last five games and is looking for its third straight season sweep of Big Green. Dartmouth swept the season series in 2008-09, which includes Yale's last loss to Big Green, a 61-51 defeat in Hanover on March 6, 2009. The Bulldogs are 6-7 against Dartmouth during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as head coach at Yale.
Yale Takes Round 1
After watching Dartmouth control the pace of the game in the opening half, Yale stormed out of the halftime break and started the second half with a 26-1 run that seized control of the game and led to an 89-65 victory over Dartmouth in Hanover on Jan. 29. Megan Vasquez scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Bulldogs. Janna Graf finished with 19 points, while three other Bulldogs also finished in double figures. Yale held Dartmouth to just one free throw through the first 9:31 of the second half, and the Big Green failed to score a single field goal until Tia Dawson's layup with 9:34 left. Dartmouth's leading scorer, Faziah Steen, scored 11 points in the opening 20 minutes, but the Bulldogs held her to just two points in the second half. Milica Toskovic scored all 15 of her points in the opening half, but she failed to score anything in the second half.
Every Dartmouth class but one since 1980 has graduated with at least one Ivy League Championship ring. This trend will hold through at least this season. The Big Green will need to win the Ivy League title next season to avoid seeing a second class not win a ring. With only one senior, Sasha Dosenko, who was on that 2009 championship team, and one junior, Faziah Steen, who has yet to win a ring, the Big Green has five freshman and three sophomores who have some time to bring the title back to Hanover.
Following its loss to Yale in the first meeting of the season on Jan. 27, Harvard (12-9, 5-2 Ivy League) had won four straight games before suffering an 84-56 home loss to Princeton. Harvard leads the Ivy League in free-throw percentage (78.0 percent) and is second in several categories, including field goal percentage (40.7 percent), rebounding (38.9 rpg.), rebounds allowed (33.9 rpg.), rebounding margin (+5.0 rpg.), and 3-pointers made per game (5.9). The Crimson is the third-highest scoring team in the Ivy League (65.2 ppg.) behind only Princeton (70.0) and Yale (67.6). Three players are scoring in double figures this season for the Crimson, including sophomore Christine Clark, who is leading the team in scoring (15.4 ppg.). Senior Brogan Berry is second on the team in scoring (13.1 ppg) and leads the team in assists (4.5 apg.). Junior Victoria Lippert is averaging 12.2 ppg. and 4.4 rpg. Miriam Rutzen is Harvard's leading rebounder (6.2 rpg.).
In a series that dates back to the 1974-75 season, the Ivy League's two fiercest rivals have met 71 times prior to Saturday's game. Harvard leads the all-time series by a 41-30 margin. Yale has won the last three meetings. However, prior to Yale's sweep of the season series last year, Harvard had won the previous four meetings, and 18 of the previous 22. Prior to last year's 78-64 win in Cambridge, Yale's last win at Harvard came on Feb. 17, 2001, 72-61. Yale is 5-8 against Harvard during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as head coach.
Yale Repeats Lavietes Feat
Prior to last season's 78-64 win in Cambridge, Yale's last win at Harvard came 11 years ago. In the first meeting of the 2011-12 season, the Bulldogs made it look like they enjoyed playing in Lavietes Pavilion, rallying from a 10-point first half deficit to take a 68-63 win over Harvard on Jan. 27. It is Yale's second straight win in Cambridge. Megan Vasquez scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Yale to the come-from-behind win. Janna Graf scored a game-high 16 points to go with eight rebounds and three steals. Sarah Halejian had 11 points and four rebounds, while Michelle Cashen added nine points and seven rebounds. Christine Clark scored 10 of her 16 points in the second half to lead Harvard. Victoria Lippert added 15 points.
Berry's Mark on History
In her four seasons at Harvard, senior guard Brogan Berry has been the Crimson's most reliable player, and she has already cemented her place in Harvard's history, even if she doesn't play another game in her career. Entering the weekend, Berry ranked sixth in Ivy League history and third in Harvard's record books with 492 career assists. She is the sixth all-time leading scorer in Harvard's history with 1,347 career points. She needs just 33 more points to break into the Ivy League's all-time top 30, and she is on pace to become the only player in Harvard's history to surpass 1,300 points and 500 assists.
Yale's Sweep of Cornell-Columbia
Megan Vasquez matched her previous career-high of 25 points in Yale's 86-73 win over Cornell on Feb. 10 and followed that outing by setting a new career-high with 28 points to help Yale complete the weekend sweep with a 73-59 win over Columbia on Feb. 11. The pair of wins moved Yale back into second place in the Ivy League standings with six games remaining. The team that finishes in second place in the Ivy League standings earns an automatic berth in the WNIT. Against Cornell, Aarica West matched a career-high with 10 assists, including nine in the first half alone, while Janna Graf added 14 points. In the win over Columbia, Yale trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half, only to use a 29-11 run over a 7:58 span in the middle of the second half to take a 63-50 lead with 6:15 left, holding on over the final minutes for the victory. Allie Messimer added 13 points for Yale.
In the win over Cornell on Feb. 10, the key factor was Yale's long-distance shooting. The Bulldogs were 16-for-30 from 3-point range, a record-setting night for the Bulldogs. Yale's 16 3-pointers against Cornell tied the all-time Ivy League single-game record, previously set twice by Harvard, against Rhode Island on Jan. 12, 1993, and Vanderbilt on March 15, 1996. The Ivy League record for 3-point attempts is 40, set by Penn on Jan. 21, 2003, in a game against Harvard. However, the 30 3-point attempts by Yale against Cornell tied its own mark for the second-highest total in the Ivy League this season. Yale previously made 30 3-point attempts vs. Holy Cross on Nov. 11. Penn attempted 33 3-pointers vs. Brown on Feb. 4.
Yale on YES
The YES Network, the broadcast home of the 27-time World Series Champion New York Yankees, will feature Yale's men's and women's basketball teams in a two-game, winter package. The women's basketball team tips off the set with its Ivy League home game vs. Dartmouth on Friday, Feb. 17. The men's basketball team will close out the package with its home game against Columbia on Friday, Feb, 24. Both games will air live on YES beginning at 7 p.m.
Introducing the Class of 2016
Four players will join the Yale's roster as incoming freshman for the 2012-13 season. On Jan. 18, the Bulldogs announced the additions of guards Whitney Wyckoff and Nyasha Sarju, forward Meredith Boardman, and center Elizabeth "Emmy" Allen, who will all join the roster as freshmen this fall. Allen is a 6-foot-3 center from Overland Park, Kan., who is rated as the 27th top post player in the nation by ESPN. Boardman, a 6-foot-1 forward from Oak Park, Ill., who was listed among the Chicago area's top 50 players by the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. Sarju, a 6-foot-tall shooting guard from Seattle, Wash., who was listed as the 56th best wing player in the nation by ESPN. Wyckoff, a 5-foot-9 guard from West Chester, Ohio, was averaging 12.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.3 steals, 2.3 assists and 2.0 blocks per game through the first four games of the season at Lakota East High School before suffering a season-ending knee injury. She is expected to return to the court before her arrival at Yale. She was listed as the 77th-ranked off-guard in the country by the College Girls Basketball Report. Wyckoff's sister, Brooke, played nine seasons in the WNBA with the Connecticut Sun, Chicago Sky and Orlando Miracle and is now an assistant coach at Florida State.
Yale Athletics Pink Zones
Yale's game against Columbia on Saturday, Feb. 11 was the main event of Yale's two-day event now called "Yale Athletics Pink Zones." The annual fundraiser, in conjunction with the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's "Play 4Kay" initiative, is dedicated to raising awareness and donations for breast cancer research, with Yale's proceeds once again being donated to the Smilow Cancer Hospital. This year's event turned out to be the most successful Pink Zone weekend since Yale started participating five years ago. The festivities raised about $7,000 through several events inside Payne Whitney Gymnasium, including the "Battle of the Badges" competition, which featured the Yale and New Haven police and fire departments. The Yale gymnastics team also hosted the Bulldog Invitational, while the women's and men's squash teams competed against Ivy League rival Harvard on Sunday, Feb. 12, to close out the event schedule.
"Inside Ivy League Basketball"
Junior guard Megan Vasquez was the latest Bulldog to appear on the Ivy League's on-demand radio show. In the Week 7 episode, she talked about Yale's pursuit of an Ivy League title, as well as her individual success in her first three seasons in a Yale uniform. "Inside Ivy League Basketball" has already featured an interview with Yale coach Chris Gobrecht. The Week 5 episode can still be found on the show's website. To hear both of Yale's interviews, as well as two others featuring Yale's men's basketball team, visit blogtalkradio.com/insideivyleaguebasketball.
Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr./Yale Sports Publicity