February 22, 2013

Big Second Half from Vasquez Powers Yale to Victory

Graf's Double-Double, Messimer's 14 Points Gives Bulldogs Third Straight Win

  

HANOVER, N.H. — The Yale University women's basketball team shut down Dartmouth for a stretch of more than six minutes at the end of the first half, using an unrelenting defensive effort to take control of the game, and it was more than enough to propel the Bulldogs to their fourth Ivy League victory in the last five games.

Senior guard Megan Vasquez used a 9-for-10 effort at the free-throw line to score a game-high 15 points and lead Yale to a 66-55 win over Dartmouth inside Leede Arena.

With the win, Yale improves to 10-13 overall and 5-4 in Ivy League play, while Dartmouth falls to 6-16 overall and 4-4 in Ivy League play.

With her 15 points, Vasquez now has 1,340 career points, moving past Katy Grubbs '99 (1,336) for seventh place on Yale's all-time scoring list. She is now 31 points behind Seattle Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel '81 (1,371) for sixth place.

Four of Yale's five starters scored in double figures to fuel the victory over Dartmouth, Yale's fourth straight win at Dartmouth and seventh win in the last eight tries over the Big Green. Senior captain Allie Messimer scored 11 first-half points en route to matching a career-high 14 points for the Bulldogs. Junior guard Janna Graf recorded her second career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while sophomore guard Sarah Halejian added 14 points, four rebounds and four assists in the victory.

Faziah Steen scored 12 points for Dartmouth, while Tia Dawson added 10 points and eight rebounds.

Dartmouth scored the game's first five points, but Yale responded with a 7-2 run to tie the game at the 15:56 mark. The Big Green seized early control of the game over the next 6:23, with Kamala Thompson scoring four points to fuel an 11-4 run to put Dartmouth on top 18-11 with 9:33 left in the half.

Dawson's layup at 6:29 gave Dartmouth a 23-16 lead. It turned out to be the Big Green's last field goal of the half.

Yale turned the tables on Dartmouth with a 15-0 run over a 4:48 span behind five points from Messimer and four more from Halejian, turning a seven-point deficit into an 31-23 lead with 1:41 left in the half.

The Bulldogs weren't finished. The defensive effort kept the Big Green from adding any more points to the scoreboard until Lakin Roland sank a pair of free throws with 1:08 left in the half. Nicola Zimmer added one more free throw, giving Dartmouth just three points on 3-of-4 from the free-throw line in the final 6:28 of the half.

On the other side of the court, Yale closed the half with a 19-3 run to go into the halftime break with a 35-26 lead.

"I thought we played our best basketball the last six minutes of the first half and that proved to be the difference in the game. It was just what we needed to win the game," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball.

The defensive stand held firm until Steen's layup with 17:16 left in the second half gave Dartmouth its first points of the period. By that point, Yale had held Dartmouth without a field goal for a 9:11 span.

The rest of the second half turned out to be a different story as the two teams traded punches as Yale tried to maintain a hold on the lead that was built mainly by the defensive stand earlier in the game.

The Big Green cut Yale's lead to single digits on Dawson's layup at 15:11, but Yale responded with an 8-2 run on layups by freshman guard Nyasha Sarju, Vasquez, Halejian, and freshman center Emmy Allen to give the Bulldogs a 48-34 lead, it's largest lead of the game, with 11:57 left.

Dartmouth didn't give up easily, trimming Yale's lead to just six points twice in the next 10 minutes, the last time coming when Roland's jumper cut Yale's lead to 59-53 with 1:16 left.

But with time running out, Dartmouth was forced to foul and Vasquez was up to the task. She went 6-for-6 from the line in the final 1:12 to help Yale secure the victory, avenging the home loss to Dartmouth on Feb. 2.

"I thought the second half was just a slugfest. I didn't think either team played particularly well. Both teams were just fighting and it was very physical," Gobrecht said.

The play of Vasquez in the second half was a big factor in the victory. She scored 12 of her 15 points and grabbed four of her six rebounds in the final 20 minutes.

"Megan was the difference in the game," Gobrecht said. "I thought she played very determined. It was perhaps the best that I have seen her play all year. She is back to feeling the game again. She was a little out of sync earlier this season. In addition to playing very hard, I thought she played really smart tonight."

The Bulldogs will close out the weekend trip Saturday night in Cambridge, Mass., against Harvard.

Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity