Yale Bulldogs (1-4, 0-0 Ivy League) vs. Quinnipiac Bobcats (3-0, 0-0 NEC)
The Yale women's basketball team returns home in search of its second win of the season following a trip to Chicago that resulted in a pair of hard-fought losses to Big East power DePaul and Big Ten opponent Northwestern. Yale welcomes in-state rival Quinnipiac into John J. Lee Amphitheater, which is unbeaten through three games this season. The Bulldogs are looking to hold onto their home dominance over the Bobcats. Yale has beaten Quinnipiac in the last three meetings in New Haven, dating back to Dec. 31, 2006. The Bulldogs enter the game with four players averaging double figures in scoring, led by sophomore Sarah Halejian's 14.2 ppg.
Quinnipiac enters Wednesday's game with an unbeaten 3-0 record following a 76-60 win over Rhode Island on Saturday. Redshirt senior guard Felicia Barron is leading the charge for the Bobcats. She is averaging 22.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 steals per game, and it is clear that the offense runs through her. Barron has accounted for 50 of the Bobcats 194 shot attempts (25.8 percent) and 20 of their 71 made field goals (28.2 percent). Sophomore guard Jasmine Martin is the only other Bobcat scoring in double figures at 10.0 ppg. Through three games, the Bobcats are outscoring opponents by 10.0 points per game despite opposing teams shooting better (37.4 percent to 36.6 percent) and rebounding better (47.7 rpg. to 39.3 rpg.) than the Bobcats. The biggest key to victory has been the Bobcats' defensive pressure, which has forced teams to turn the ball over an average of 22.0 times per game.
Wednesday's meeting will be the 17th meeting between Quinnipiac and Yale. This in-state rivalry has favored the Bobcats, who hold a 9-7 advantage in the series. However, Yale has won the last three meetings inside John J. Lee Amphitheater, a streak that dates back to Dec. 31, 2006. Quinnipiac's last win at Yale came on Dec. 3, 2002, a 77-73 defeat of the Bulldogs. In the last meeting, on Dec. 20, 2011, Quinnipiac rallied to the 68-63 win thanks to a 17-4 run in the second half. Yale is 3-4 against Quinnipiac during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as the Bulldogs' head coach.
Quinnipiac started its season a little earlier than most, spending 10 days in August touring Italy. The Wildcats went 3-0 during the trip, defeating Amici del Campetto (82-50), Pallacanestro Montecchio (73-44) and All-Star Italia (67-59).
In the most recent Mid-Major Top 25 poll, Quinnipiac made its first appearance in the poll, debuting at No. 22. The poll is produced by College Insider Sports and voted on by the coaches
from the following conferences: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Great West, Horizon, Independents, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern, Summit, Sun Belt, West Coast. Yale head coach Chris Gobrecht and Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabbri are among the voters. No. 4 Princeton, No. 10 Marist, and No. 25 Sacred Heart are the other Yale opponents this season that are ranked in the poll.
Last Time Out
Quinnipiac cruised past Rhode Island, 76-60, in the home opener for the Bobcats on Saturday, Nov. 24. With the win, Quinnipiac improved to 3-0. Quinnipiac poured in a season-best 47 points in the first half behind 52.9 percent shooting from the floor, a feat they only accomplished once last season in a big win at Bryant on Jan. 21, 2012. Coming out of the gates strong for the Bobcats was senior Felicia Barron who led the backcourt with 17 points and 3 steals. Along with Barron, sophomore forward Nikoline Osetergaard collected a career high of 10 points, all in the first half of play. For the game, the Bobcats forced 18 URI turnovers, which resulted in 23 points for the Bobcats.
Taking Care of the Ball
Quinnipiac guards Gillian Abshire, Lisa Lebak and Shaina Earle combined for 11 assists and just one turnover in the win over Rhode Island on Saturday. The trio has taken care of the ball in each of the three games this season, dishing out a combined 20 assists with just seven turnovers to help the Bobcats to a 3-0 start.
The 2012-13 season marks the 40th season of women's basketball at Yale University. In 1972-73, women's basketball appeared on the Yale scene as a club sport and became a varsity sport the following year. The Bulldogs made an impressive Ivy debut, finishing second in the League in 1974-75. In 1976, Louise O'Neal was hired as the first full-time women's basketball coach and Yale won its first Ivy League championship in 1978-79. The Bulldogs have won 438 games since their debut. A total of nine men and women have coached women's basketball at Yale, and there have been 35 women who have been named captain in those 40 seasons. In its 40 seasons, the women's basketball team has seen one player win Ivy League Player of the Year award (Tonya Lawrence, 1988-89), four Ivy League Rookies of the Year (Sarah Halejian, 2011-12; Melissa Colborne, 2006-07; Katy Grubbs, 1995-96; Mary Kalich, 1991-92), 18 players on the All-Ivy League First Team, and 17 players score more than 1,000 career points. Throughout the season, Yale will be celebrating the program's historic achievement.
From Way Downtown
Yale's 3-point shooting prowess is among the best in the nation, according to the NCAA. The NCAA released its first statistical rankings on Monday, and Yale is ranked 8th among the nation's 343 Division I schools in 3-pointers made per game. The Bulldogs' 8.6 3-pointers made per game is tied with UConn, the No. 2-ranked team in the country. Yale is 24th in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (38.7 percent). Yale's scoring offense (72.2 points per game) is the best in the Ivy League and is ranked No. 53 in the nation. On the defensive end, Yale's 3-point shooting defense is ranked 28th in the country. The Bulldogs are holding teams to just 21.4 percent.
First Award for Sarju
Yale freshman guard Nyasha Sarju was named the Ivy League's Rookie of the Week on Monday. She earns her first career Ivy League honor after averaging 13.5 points and 3.0 rebounds in Yale's two games at DePaul and Northwestern last week. In both games, Sarju saved her best for the second half. In the 95-80 loss at Big East powerhouse DePaul, Sarju scored a team-high 16 points to go with four rebounds, two assists and two steals in 22 minutes off the bench. In the second half of that game, Sarju scored 12 of her points on a stellar 5-of-6 shooting and tallied the first blocked shot of her Yale career. In the 83-75 loss at Big Ten opponent Northwestern, Sarju scored all 11 points of her points in the second half. Sarju is currently second on the team in scoring, averaging 11.3 points per game.
Fight to the Finish
Yale closed the game with a 13-1 run, but it was not enough to complete a rally from an 82-62 deficit. The Bulldogs fell just short in an 83-75 loss at Northwestern on Nov. 21. The Bulldogs reunited with former assistant coach Allison Guth, whose squad used a 17-0 run in the second half to open up the big lead, but it turned out to be a shaky finish for the Wildcats. Senior guard Megan Vasquez scored 21 points in the loss. It was the 15th time in her career that she scored at least 20 points in a game. Sophomore guard Sarah Halejian and freshman guard Nyasha Sarju each scored 11 points. Junior guard Janna Graf finished with nine points and 12 rebounds.
Downed by DePaul
Yale's Thanksgiving week trip to Chicago didn't get the start the Bulldogs were hoping for. In the second-ever meeting between the two teams, DePaul avoided Yale's upset bid, holding on for a 95-80 victory Monday night. Sophomore guard Sarah Halejian had 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting with four assists, while freshman guard Nyasha Sarju also had 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting with four rebounds to lead the Bulldogs in the first of two games in the Windy City. Six Yale players scored at least nine points in the loss. Senior captain Allie Messimer scored a season-high 13 points, while freshman forward Meredith Boardman, whose hometown of Oak Park, Ill., is just west of Chicago, recorded nine points and five rebounds. Senior guard Megan Vasquez tallied nine points and six rebounds, while junior guard Janna Graf added nine points and three assists. Yale led twice in the opening half and opened the second half with an 18-6 run to make it a one-possession game at 52-49, but DePaul responded with a 13-2 run that effectively put the game out of reach for the Bulldogs. Yale couldn't get any closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Yale rallied to its first win of the season, an 84-82 victory over Houston in New Haven on Saturday. Trailing 17-6 after a slow start, the Bulldogs recovered in time to pull within two points, 37-35, at halftime. 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 Sarah Halejian, who finished with 17 points. Trailing 68-61 with 8:59 left, Houston regained control of the game with a 12-0 run to take a 73-68 lead with 5:55 left. 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.
Keita's Career Night
Zenab Keita, 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 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.
More Shining Stars vs. Houston
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.
In the latest USA Today Top 25 Coaches' Poll, which was released on Tuesday, Nov. 27, two of Yale's 2012-13 opponents, DePaul (9 points) and Georgetown (1 point), received votes in the poll. The coaches who vote in the poll rank their Top 25, with first-place votes counting for 25 points and a 25th-place vote counting for one point. In the College Insider Mid-Major Top 25, Yale opponents Princeton (4th), Marist (10th), Quinnipiac (22nd) and Sacred Heart (25th) are all ranked in the Top 25, while Yale received one vote.
Yale returns to the road on Saturday to face Patriot League foe Army. The game is scheduled to tip off at 3 p.m. at Christl Arena on the West Point, N.Y., campus of the U.S. Military Academy. In the previous meeting, the Bulldogs used Michelle Cashen's double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds) to pull out a 63-62 win over Army at Yale on Jan. 1, 2012. Olivia Schretzman missed a potential game-winning eight-foot jumper at the buzzer, allowing Yale to survive. Yale's last win at Army came on Jan. 14, 1998, a 73-49 victory.
Follow the Bulldogs
Be sure to follow the Yale women's basektball team throughout the 2012-13 season on Twitter (@YaleWBBDawgz) and on Facebook ("Yale WBB").
Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity