Sophomore Guard Records First Career Double-Double to Power Bulldogs Past Brown
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Yale University women's basketball team needed a win to keep from falling to 0-2 in Ivy League play and sophomore guard Sarah Halejian made certain the Bulldogs left Providence with the victory.
Halejian recorded her first career double-double, with 21 points and 10 rebounds, both career-highs, to lead Yale to a 59-47 win over Brown at the Pizzitola Sports Center Friday night.
Halejian scored 15 of her points in the second half, and she finished with a 9-for-16 shooting effort and three steals to help the Bulldogs bounce back from the 68-67 home loss to Brown on Jan. 19. With the win, Yale improves to 6-10 overall, 1-1 in Ivy League play. Yale also improves to 5-1 in its last six games at Brown with the lone loss in that stretch coming on Jan. 15, 2010.
"It feels good because we definitely felt that we were a better team than Brown and we were really upset at the result last week," Halejian said. "We still didn't play our best basketball tonight, but we did enough to get the job done so it felt really good."
In the loss to Brown last week, Halejian led the Bulldogs with 14 points but was just 5-for-19 from the floor (26.3 percent) and 0-for-3 from 3-point range. In the rematch, especially in the second half, Halejian took control of the game and never let go.
"I think I definitely tried to take smarter shots," she said. "Last time, I took a boatload of shots. This time I tried to be smarter and shoot when I was open and distribute to my teammates when I was covered."
Sophie Bikofsky led Brown (7-9, 1-1 Ivy League) with 11 points, while Natalie Ball added 10 points.
Yale struggled in the opening minute. After two possessions, Yale had two turnovers and Brown had a 4-0 lead, but the Bulldogs turned things around with a 12-4 run to pull ahead 12-8. Brown scored the next seven points to retake the lead, 15-12, with 8:39 left, but the Bulldogs responded again, this time closing the half with a 14-5 run to charge into the halftime break with a 26-20 lead.
Yale made just five of its first 20 shots, but closed the half shooting 5-for-8 to finish with a 10-for-28 shooting effort in the opening period. The Bulldogs' big blemish in the first half was a 1-for-10 shooting effort from 3-point range. Messimer was 1-1 from behind the arc, but the rest of the team was 0-for-9.
By the time the final buzzer sounded, Yale was just 2-for-15 from 3-point range. The Bulldogs entered the game ranked No. 11 among the nation's 343 Division I schools in 3-pointers made per game with 8.1 3-pointers per game and No. 28 in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (35.3 percent).
"It wasn't a pretty basketball game. We figured out early on that we weren't hitting our outside shots," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "When you play a team like that, it's very hard to get a rhythm. So we looked for ways to attack. I'm really excited for Yale to get that many points in the paint (30). That's probably a first for us."
In the second half, Yale scored six of the first eight points to push the lead to 32-22 at the 17:54 mark, but Brown responded with a 7-0 run over the next 1:36 to close the margin to just three points, 32-29, with 16:18 left.
Leading 47-43 with 6:04 left, Yale put the game out of reach with a 10-0 run that pushed the lead to 57-43 with 4:14 left, with five of those points coming from Halejian. Brown could muster only four points the rest of the way.
Yale held Brown to just 11 points over the final 12:52 of the game. The Bulldogs limited Lauren Clarke, Brown's leading scorer, to nine points overall, but more importantly, just two points in the second half.
"Sarah just played spectacularly," Gobrecht said. "She was really good. And, I thought she did a very good job of defending Lauren Clarke. Sarah really stepped up."
Yale returns home for the weekend matchups against Harvard and Dartmouth, with the Crimson coming in for Yale's Special Olympics night on Friday, Feb. 1, at 7 p.m., and the Big Green coming to John J. Lee Amphitheater on Saturday, Feb. 2, at 6 p.m.