ITHACA, N.Y. — After dropping a tough loss at Columbia Friday night, the Yale University women's basketball team was looking to end the road trip with a good feeling at Cornell on Saturday.
Behind a balanced scoring effort, Yale led by as many as 17 points and held on for a 69-58 win over Cornell in Ivy League play inside Newman Arena.
The win keeps the Bulldogs (16-10, 8-4 Ivy League) in second place in the Ivy League standings, a half-game ahead of Harvard, which improved to 7-4 with a win at Penn Saturday night.
Sophomore guard Janna Graf scored eight of her 13 points in the first half to lead the Bulldogs. She also had eight rebounds. Junior guard Megan Vasquez scored all 12 of her points in the second half, while senior captain Michelle Cashen tallied 12 points, eight rebounds, and five assists.
All nine Yale players who saw action scored at least two points, and seven Bulldogs had at least six points.
"This was a gut-check win for us, there's no doubt about it," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "Michelle came in and took charge early on and made things happen for us, and it really set the tone for us. Everyone worked really hard for this win. Losing at Columbia was really disappointing for us. To bounce back the way we did with how hard we worked was nice to see."
The Bulldogs opened the game with an 11-0 run largely due to the play of Cashen. Before Cornell could put any points on the board, Cashen scored four of Yale's points, grabbed five rebounds, and assisted on two other baskets, giving her input on nine of Yale's first 11 points.
Yale led by as many as 12 points in the opening half, with Cashen leading the way with nine of her points and six of her rebounds, allowing the Bulldogs to go into the locker room with a 34-24 halftime lead. Cashen also had three assists and two steals in the opening 20 minutes.
In the first half, Yale scored 17 of its points off of 13 Cornell turnovers, taking advantage of the Big Red miscues, something the Bulldogs struggled to accomplish against Columbia Friday night. Yale was also 14-of-33 from the floor (42.4 percent), with 10 of those baskets coming from inside the paint.
Of the nine players who saw action in the first half, the only Bulldog who didn't score was Vasquez, but she more than made up for that in the second half.
Yale's leading scorer scored Yale's first eight points of the half and 10 of the Bulldogs' first 13 points. And just as Cornell seemed to be fighting it's way back into contention, trimming a deficit that climbed back to 12 points down to only six (45-39) with 12:28 left, freshman guard Hayden Latham put her stamp on the victory with five straight Yale points on a jumper and a 3-pointer that put Yale on top by 13 points. A free throw by Vasquez followed by a 3-pointer from Graf pushed the Bulldogs' lead to 17 points (61-44), its largest lead of the game, with 6:48 left.
"Megan really got us going in the second half," Gobrecht said. "The way she and Janna were shooting the ball in the second half gave us the advantage we needed. And then Hayden Latham came up with some big buckets and made big plays for us at a time when Cornell was fighting to get back into the game. She played really well in that stretch."
Cornell scored the next eight points to cut the deficit to nine points (61-52) with 4:07 left, but that was as close as the Big Red would get.
Maka Anyanwu led Cornell (11-14, 5-6 Ivy League) with 17 points, while Allyson DiMagno and Taylor Flynn each added 11 points.
Cornell outrebounded the Bulldogs 35-32 despite Yale owning an 18-15 advantage in the first half. However, Yale outshot Cornell in the game, with the Bulldogs shooting 25-for-51 (49.0 percent), including 8-for-18 from 3-point range. Cornell shot 23-of-54 from the floor (42.6 percent), just 1-of-7 from 3-point range.
Yale returns to the court on Friday night, when it plays host to first-place Princeton at 7 p.m.