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Bulldogs Rebound Their Way to First Win of Season

Zenab Keita. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Zenab Keita. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Keita Records First Career Double-Double in Career-High Scoring, Rebounding Effort


NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Zenab Keita's career night turned out to be the inspiration that the Yale University women's basketball team needed.

The Bulldogs' junior center recorded her first career double-double with career-highs in points (18) and rebounds (11) to lead Yale to an 84-82 win over Houston inside John J. Lee Amphitheater Saturday night.

En route to the double-double, Keita set career-bests in field goals made (6) and attempted (12) and she was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line. Her eight defensive rebounds and four assists were also a career-high, while her three blocks matched a career-high.

Keita was not the only Bulldog having a career night against the Cougars. Sophomore guard Sarah Halejian scored 17 points, falling one point shy of her career-high of 18, but she set a career-high mark in field goals made (7) in the victory.

Freshman Meredith Boardman tallied 11 points, nine rebounds, seven offensive rebounds and five assists, setting season-high marks in all four categories.

Five Bulldogs in all scored in double figures with junior guard Janna Graf pouring in 16 points and senior guard Megan Vasquez adding 12 points.

Houston senior guard Porsche Landry led all scorers with 30 points on 13-for-31 shooting.

Yale shot 2-for-20 to open the game, falling behind 17-6, but despite 14 first-half turnovers, the Bulldogs still managed to recover from the slow start and pull within two points, 37-35, at halftime.

"We were missing so many shots in the beginning of the game that we normally make that I almost wasn't worried because I felt that we would be fine as soon as the shots started to fall. We just had to stay on course," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "I just wish we had defended them better. It was a huge adjustment to go from Wednesday's game (New Hampshire) to tonight's game. It was such an entirely different style of play that we were defending tonight."

The Bulldogs dominated the start of the second half, jumping out to a 48-41 lead after opening the period with a 13-4 run that was fueled by an eight-point burst by Halejian.

Yale extended that lead to 60-51 with 12:15 left and seemed to be in control, but Houston did not go away quietly. With Yale leading 68-61 with 8:59 left, Houston regained control of the game with a 12-0 run that turned a seven-point deficit into a five-point lead, 73-68, with 5:55 left.

But as quickly as Houston seized control, the Bulldogs responded and reclaimed control of the game with a 12-0 run of their own to take an 80-73 lead with 2:31 left in the game.

Houston closed the game with a 9-4 run and had a chance to win at the buzzer, but Marissa Ashton's desperation shot hit the rim and bounced away, giving Yale its first win of the 2012-13 season.

Yale outrebounded Houston 50-47, and in the first half, despite the early struggles, the Bulldogs used that hustle under the glass to grab a 28-18 rebounding edge.

"That's a big surprise that we outrebounded them," Gobrecht said. "I thought we battled really well. Even when we made mistakes, we kept fighting and kept fighting and that's why we gave ourselves the chance to win the game. That's what I really respect about this team. They are very hard working. They are a team that stays with it."

Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity