Bulldogs Must Beat Penn and Hope Harvard Loses to Cornell or Dartmouth to Earn Bid
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — If the Yale University women's basketball team hopes to continue its season past the final regular season game against Penn on Saturday, it is going to need help from either Dartmouth or Cornell if it has any chance of advancing to postseason play.
The Bulldogs could have controlled their own destiny with a win over Princeton Friday night, but junior forward Niveen Rasheed made sure the Tigers left New Haven with their perfect Ivy League record intact.
Rasheed scored 20 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead Princeton to a 71-53 win over Yale inside John J. Lee Amphitheater Friday night.
With the loss, Yale (16-11, 8-5 Ivy League) must beat Penn on Senior Night Saturday and hope that Harvard (15-11, 8-4 Ivy League) loses to either Cornell (Saturday) or Dartmouth (Tuesday). If that happens, Yale would tie Harvard in the standings but will secure the Ivy League's automatic WNIT bid by virtue of a tiebreaker.
Yale kept the game close throughout the first 15 minutes of the game and trailed only 28-24 with 5:10 remaining in the opening half. Over the last five minutes of the half, however, Princeton proved why they have lost only one game in Ivy League play in the last three-plus seasons, going 44-1 against League competition in a stretch that dates back to Feb. 27, 2009.
The Tigers outscored the Bulldogs 13-2 over the final 4:37 of the half to take a commanding 41-26 lead into the locker room at the halftime break.
"It is how hard they play. They are very talented. They are very deep. They play extremely hard and they are a very good rebounding team," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "They have a lot of weapons. There is just no weakness there."
Despite the deficit, Vasquez led all scorers at halftime with nine points, but Princeton used its advantage under the basket to open up the big lead. The Tigers outrebounded the Bulldogs 24-9 in the opening half and outscored the Bulldogs 9-0 on second-chance opportunities and 24-10 in the paint.
Yale did not go away quietly, however. Despite falling behind by as many as 20 points with 12:39 left in the game, the Bulldogs scratched and clawed their way back into contention, cutting the 20-point deficit to just 11 with 2:50 left. Princeton shut Yale's rally down from there and scored the final seven points of the game to pull out the 18-point win.
"I think we would have been in the game if we hadn't had that lapse at the end of the first half," Gobrecht said. "I thought we just got a little too down on ourselves and let them get to us. That's what Princeton does to its opponents. We talked about it at halftime and said we weren't going to let them do that to us in the second half. If we played the first half like we did the second half, it would have been a game. We would have had a shot at them."
Ironically, it was a freshman and a senior who led the Bulldogs' second-half charge. Latham scored nine of her points in the second half, while Cashen scored eight of her points in the final 20 minutes.
"Nobody is going to intimidate Hayden. She's going to be a good player. You have to remember how young she is and how much of the season she missed (due to a concussion)," Gobrecht said. "Michelle has been playing with a lot of heart down the stretch. She has been playing like a senior who realizes it's almost over."
Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity