Yale Bulldogs (3-7, 0-0 Ivy League) at Georgetown Hoyas (7-4, 0-0 Big East)
In what will be the final game of 2012, Yale returns to the road for just its second game in 20 days with a visit to the nation's capital to take on Big East power Georgetown. Yale is hoping to return to New Haven with a victory after falling at home to Marist on Dec. 20 following a 12-day final exam break. The Bulldogs and Hoyas will meet for the fifth time in their respective histories, but it is the first meeting between the two teams since Yale earned a 67-62 win on Dec. 5, 1982, in a tournament at Fairfield. Yale is led by sophomore guard Sarah Halejian, the only Bulldog to score in double figures in every game this season. She is averaging 13.4 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, while junior guard Janna Graf is second on the team in scoring (11.0ppg.) and leads the team in rebounding (5.8 rpg.).
Georgetown enters Thursday's game with a 7-4 overall record, having lost its last two games, including its first home loss of the season to South Dakota State on Dec. 21. The Hoyas will be looking to bounce back with just two more home games remaining against Yale and Temple before they jump into Big East play. Georgetown is scoring an average of 64.7 points per game, but it is also allowing 63.5 points per game, an average advantage of just 1.3 points per game. One area that the Bulldogs might be able to use to their advantage is their 3-point shooting. The Hoyas allow an average of 7.3 made 3-pointers per game. The Bulldogs enter the game averaging 8.3 made threes per game. With seven of the 11 players on their roster standing at least 6-feet tall, the Hoyas have remarkably been outrebounded by an average of 0.7 rebounds per game, pulling down 37.9 boards to 38.6 rebounds by their opponents. They have been outrebounded by their opponents in six of their 11 games, including double-digit margins against North Carolina and Penn State. The Hoyas are led by senior guard Sugar Rodgers, who is averaging 24.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, and junior forward Andrea White, who is second on the team with 10.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. No other Hoya, however, is averaging more than 7.1 points.
This will be the fifth meeting between Yale and Georgetown since the two teams began this rivalry in 1980, but it is the first meeting between the two teams since Yale earned its only victory of the series, a 67-62 win on Dec. 5, 1982 in a tournament at Fairfield University. The Hoyas lead the series 3-1. All three Hoya wins came between 1980 and 1982, including a 74-61 win at Georgetown on Jan. 27, 1980. a 78-68 win at Yale on Jan. 31, 1981, and a 79-51 win at Georgetown on Jan. 7, 1982.
What is a Hoya?
According to Georgetown's website, when all Georgetown students were required to study Greek and Latin several years ago, the university's teams were nicknamed "The Stonewalls." It is suggested that a student, using Greek and Latin terms, started the cheer "Hoya Saxa!", which translates into "What Rocks!" The name proved popular and the term "Hoyas" was eventually adopted for all Georgetown teams. The mascot, like Yale's, is a bulldog.
Back in Action
Like Yale, Georgetown is also ending an extended break. The Hoyas are playing just their second game in 19 days, while Yale is playing its second game in 20 days. Both teams took a 12-day break to allow for final exams. Both teams also played one game after exams before shutting down for the Christmas holiday.
Cold Shooting Hoyas
Georgetown has dropped its last two games to Penn State and South Dakota State, and while the loss to Penn State, ranked No. 10 in the nation, was not unexpected, the loss to the Jackrabbits was a bit more surprising. The key factor in both losses was the shooting struggles by the Hoyas. Against Penn State, Georgetown shot just 31.5 percent from the floor and 25.0 percent from 3-point range. Against South Dakota State, the Hoyas were only slightly better, shooting 33.0 percent from the floor and 29.4 from 3-point range.
Sugar Rodgers is quickly playing her way into consideration for the national Player of the Year awards. The senior guard is leading her team and the Big East by a large margin in scoring (24.8 ppg.), as well as steals (3.7 spg.) and made 3-pointers (3.2 per game). She recently recorded her 2,000th career point, the first women's player to achieve that mark at Georgetown.
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 441 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.
Win Streak Snapped
Yale dropped a tough home loss to Marist on Dec. 20 after the Red Foxes closed the game with a 13-4 run over the final 5:14 to secure the 62-50 victory. Sophomore guard Sarah Halejian scored 11 points in the loss. Junior guard Janna Graf tallied nine points, four rebounds and three assists. Yale had fewer turnovers than Marist (16-14) and nearly matched the Red Foxes under the basket (39-35 rebounds). However, the Bulldogs struggled to make shots, shooting just 19-for-62 overall (30.6 percent) and 3-for-19 from 3-point range (15.8 percent). It was the second-worst shooting performance for the Bulldogs this season, just shy of the 30.3 percent shooting night in the loss to New Hampshire. The three made 3-pointers were the fewest made in a game this season. Yale entered Thursday's game ranked third in the nation in made 3-pointers with 8.9 per game.
Yale Owns OT
Sarah Halejian scored a team-high 17 points, including four of Yale's six points in overtime, to lead the Bulldogs to a 66-62 overtime win at St. Francis Brooklyn on Dec. 8. It was just the third overtime game for Yale in the eight seasons under head coach Chris Gobrecht. The only other overtime games coached by Gobrecht were a 70-66 double-overtime win at Dartmouth on Feb. 13, 2010, and a 77-73 overtime win over visiting Quinnipiac on Dec. 21, 2008. Yale is 6-0 in overtime games since the 2003-04 season. Halejian was the key to the win as 14 of her 17 points came after halftime. Janna Graf had 15 points and seven rebounds. The win was Yale's first on the road this season.
From Way Downtown
Yale's 3-point shooting prowess is among the best in the nation, according to the NCAA. The NCAA released its latest statistical rankings on Dec. 17, and Yale was ranked No. 3 among the nation's 343 Division I schools in 3-pointers made per game with 8.9 3-pointers per game. Yale was No. 9 in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (39.0 percent). On the defensive end, Yale's 3-point shooting defense was ranked 28th in the country. The Bulldogs were holding teams to just 23.7 percent.
Third Career Award for Graf
For the third time in her Yale career, junior guard Janna Graf was named the Ivy League Player of the Week on Dec. 10, following wins over Fordham and St. Francis Brooklyn. Graf earned the award after averaging 16.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3.5 steals in the pair of wins. On Dec. 4, Graf tallied 18 points, six rebounds and five of Yale's six steals to lift the Bulldogs to a 67-53 win over Fordham. At St. Francis Brooklyn on Dec. 8, Graf closed out her week with 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals in helping to lead Yale to a 66-62 overtime victory. Graf set a new career-high with five steals against Fordham. She also matched a career-high with five made free throws in a perfect 5-for-5 showing at the foul line against Fordham. Graf has picked up her defensive play of late. She has 11 steals and 15 defensive rebounds in her last three games, an average of 5.0 rebounds and 3.7 steals per game in that span.
Janna Graf picked a great time to play her best game of the season to date. The junior guard set a new season-high with 18 points on 5-of-7 shooting to lead Yale to a 67-53 win over Fordham on Dec. 4. Graf also had six rebounds and five steals. It was Yale's first win over Fordham since a 92-74 win in New Haven on Dec. 9, 1986. Fordham had won the previous six meetings with Yale. The Bulldogs dominated for the final 26:44 of the game. Yale outscored Fordham 17-8 over the final 6:44 of the first half to take a 31-29 halftime lead, with nine of those points coming from Graf. Yale then used a 17-5 run late in the second half to open up an 18-point lead (65-47) to put the game out of reach. Yale shot 25-for-50 from the floor (50.0 percent), 7-for-14 from behind the arc (50.0 percent) and 10-for-11 from the foul line.
Gobrecht Climbing the Yale Ranks
Yale's 67-53 win over Fordham on Dec. 4 improved the Bulldogs' overall record to 2-4 on the season, but the victory also gave Chris Gobrecht her 80th victory as Yale's head coach, moving her into sole possession of second place on Yale's all-time coaching victories list. She moves past Diann Nestel (79-78) and after the win at St. Francis on Dec. 8, Gobrecht is now 26 wins behind Cecelia DeMarco (107-127), Yale's all-time winningest head coach.
Gobrecht on "Inside Ivy League Basketball"
Yale head coach Chris Gobrecht was the latest Yale representative on the Ivy League's on-demand radio shot. In her interview, Gobrecht discussed Yale's improving play of late, the importance of Yale's four freshmen to the team's success in 2012-13, and the current state of the Ivy League. To hear the interview, visit blogtalkradio.com/insideivyleaguebasketball.
Yale rallied to its first win of the season, an 84-82 victory over Houston in New Haven on Nov. 17. 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. 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.
Following Friday's game, Yale will return to Connecticut to visit in-state rival Sacred Heart on Jan. 2 in the first meeting between the two squads since the 2009-10 season. It will be the 14th meeting between the two teams since the rivalry began with Yale's 85-40 win in the first game of the Connecticut Small College Tournament on March 4, 1977. Yale has not defeated Sacred Heart since an 84-43 win in the second game of the Yale Tip-Off Tournament on Nov. 25, 1979.
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Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity