March 1, 2013

Game Day Central: Salute to Vasquez, Messimer Highlights Final Home Weekend

Game #25 • March 1, 2013 • 7 p.m.

Yale Bulldogs (10-14, 5-5 Ivy League) vs. Columbia Lions (3-20, 1-8 Ivy League)

 

Game #26 • March 2, 2013 • 6 p.m.

Yale Bulldogs (10-14, 5-5 Ivy League) vs. Cornell Big Red (11-12, 3-6 Ivy League)

 

 

Opening Tip

 Yale will play the final two home games of the season this weekend when Columbia and Cornell visit John J. Lee Amphitheater. Yale will host Senior Night on Saturday and pay tribute to seniors Allie Messimer and Megan Vasquez prior to the game against Cornell. Yale Athletics will also celebrate the annual Pink Zones event throughout the day after the event, which was originally scheduled on Feb. 2, was postponed because of last month's blizzard. Yale is looking to sweep the season series from both Columbia and Cornell this weekend with victories in both games. Vasquez (1,353 career points) enters the weekend just 18 points away from Seattle Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel '81 (1,371 points) for sixth place on Yale's all-time scoring list. Vasquez is also 65 points away from tying Melissa Colborne '10 (1,418 points) and becoming one of the top five scorers in Yale's history.

 




SCOUTING THE LIONS

Scouting Columbia

Columbia (3-20, 1-8) has dropped to eighth place in the Ivy League standings after losing the last three games. The Lions have lost 11 of their last 12 games, with the only win coming at home against Brown on Feb. 15. The Lions also have two non-league wins this season over Fairleigh Dickinson (54-47, Nov. 18) and St. Francis Brooklyn (49-45, Dec. 11). Since the start of the Ivy League season, Columbia's eight league losses have come by an average margin of 23.5 points. Columbia is last in the Ivy League in scoring, averaging just 48.6 points per game. The Lions have scored less than 50 points in 13 of their 23 games. However, Columbia's defense can create problems for opposing teams. The Lions have allowed just 62.6 points per game, fifth in the Ivy League, including three games in which they held opponents to less than 50 points. The Lions rank at or near the bottom of the Ivy League in every category except for steals and offensive rebounds. Columbia ranks second in the Ivy League with 9.3 steals per game, and it ranks fourth with 12.6 offensive rebounds per game. Tyler Simpson leads Columbia with 9.4 points per game, 8.9 ppg. in Ivy League games. Courtney Bradford is Columbia's leading rebounder with 6.1 rpg. 

 

Series History

Yale holds a 40-17 edge in a series that dates back to 1975-76 and includes four wins over Barnard College from 1975-1980. Yale and Columbia did not start competing again until the Lions' jump to Division I in 1986-87, and the Bulldogs own a 36-17 edge since. Since 1999-2000, Yale is 5-9 in games at Columbia and 9-4 at home. With a 62-43 win on Feb. 16, Yale earned its first win at Columbia since Feb. 1, 2008. Yale split the series last season, winning at home and losing at Columbia. The Bulldogs are 6-9 against the Lions during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as head coach at Yale.

 

First Meeting of 2012-13

Yale used a dominant first half on Feb. 16 to accomplish a feat for the first time in 15 years. Four players scored in double figures to lead Yale's balanced scoring attack to a 62-43 win at Columbia. The win gave Yale its first weekend road sweep of Cornell and Columbia since the 1997-98 season. It was also Yale's first win at Columbia since a 66-59 win on Feb. 1, 2008. Six players scored all of Yale's points. Megan Vasquez and Sarah Halejian both had 12 points, while Zenab Keita and Janna Graf both added 11 points. Alexandra Osborn-Jones and Allie Messimer both scored eight points. Halejian added seven rebounds and five assists. Keita had nine rebounds, while Vasquez dished out six assists. Miwa Tachibana scored 10 of her 15 points in the first half to lead Columbia. Tyler Simpson scored all 10 of her points in the second half. Over a 9:50 span in the first half, Yale used a 20-0 run to blow the game wide open and take a 36-11 lead with 3:48 left in the half. Osborn-Jones scored all eight of her points in the run. In the second half, the Lions cut Yale's lead to 40-35 before Vasquez drained a 3-pointer at 10:39 to stop the Lions' run. Leading 43-38 with 10:17 left, Yale used a 17-1 run over the next 6:12 to pull ahead 60-39 with 4:05 left, effectively putting the game out of reach for Columbia.

 

Defensive Stalwarts

Brittany Simmons tallied a career-high eight steals against Cornell on Jan. 19 and is third in the Ivy League with 2.0 steals per game. As a team, the Lions are second in the Ivy League with 9.3 steals per game. Under the basket, the Lions' defensive leader is Courtney Bradford, who is leading Columbia with 6.1 rebounds per game and 15 blocks. She is sixth in the Ivy League in rebounds, fourth in offensive rebounds (2.3 orpg.) and seventh in defensive rebounds (3.7 drpg.). Simmons is second on the team in rebounds (5.0 rpg.).

 


 

SCOUTING THE BIG RED

Scouting Cornell

Cornell (11-12, 3-6) currently sits in sixth place in the Ivy League standings after losing six of its last seven games. The Big Red's only win in that stretch was a home win over Brown on Feb. 16. The Big Red won three of its last four non-league games before sweeping Columbia to begin Ivy League play. Cornell has faced common non-league opponents Fordham, New Hampshire, St. Francis Brooklyn, and Bucknell, going 1-3 against teams that Yale was 3-1 against. Yale's lone loss in those games came against New Hampshire, while Cornell's lone win came against St. Francis Brooklyn. The Big Red are fifth in the league in scoring (57.3 ppg.) and fourth in scoring defense (61.3 ppg). Cornell is second in the league in assists, averaging 13.8 assists on an average of 20.5 made field goals per game. Cornell is led by junior guard Allyson DiMagno, who is averaging a double-double with 14.1 points and an Ivy League-best 11.3 rebounds per game. She is also leading the Big Red in steals (1.8 spg.). Senior forward Clare Fitzpatrick is second on the team in scoring (12.8 ppg.) and rebounds (4.8 rpg.). DiMagno and Fitzpatrick rank third and fourth, respectively, in the Ivy League in field goal percentage. Spencer Lane leads Cornell in assists with 3.8 per game, which is second in the Ivy League.

 

Series History

Yale is looking for its seventh consecutive win in a series that dates back to 1974-75. The two teams have met 68 times. Yale leads the all-time series by a 46-22 margin, including season sweeps in the last three seasons. The Big Red owns a 13-12 advantage in the series since 2000, which includes seven straight wins from the 2000-01 season to the first meeting of the 2003-04 season. Yale is 9-6 against Cornell during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as head coach.

 

First Meeting of 2012-13

Megan Vasquez became the eighth player in Yale's history to record 1,300 career points with her first basket of the game and finished with 15 points to lead Yale to a 67-58 win at Cornell. Janna Graf scored 12 of her 13 points in the second half to help the Bulldogs rally from a second-half deficit. She also had six rebounds and five assists. Senior captain Allie Messimer finished with 10 points, while freshman Meredith Boardman finished with six points and a career-high 10 rebounds. Allyson DiMagno scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Cornell. Spencer Lane finished with 10 points. With Yale leading 27-23 at halftime, the Big Red scored the first four points of the second half and used an 11-3 run to open the half to pull ahead 34-30 with 13:20 left in the game. Cornell led 37-32 when Graf scored five straight points to tie the game at 37-37 with 9:32 left. The teams traded points until Graf sank a pair of free throws to tie the game at 41-41, and then Yale used a 10-4 spurt to pull ahead 51-45 with 5:30 left. Back-to-back jumpers by Messimer and Sarah Halejian capped a 6-0 run by Yale that pushed the lead to 59-50 with 2:25 left, which was just enough breathing room to secure the victory for the Bulldogs.

 

DiMagno Guarding the Boards

Allyson DiMagno is averaging a double-double with 14.1 points and an Ivy League-best 11.3 rebounds per game. A 5-11 guard, DiMagno is on of just three players in the country shorter than 6-feet to be ranked in the Top 15 in the NCAA in rebounding. In Ivy League games, DiMagno is averaging 14.4 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. Her 11.3 rebounds per game average ranks 13th in the nation and leads the Ivy League by 2.7 rebounds over Princeton senior Niveen Rasheed. DiMagno has grabbed at least 10 rebounds in 12 games this season, and with 261 total rebounds this season, she needs just 27 more boards with five games remaining to become Cornell's all-time single-season leader.

 


 

SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS

Celebrating History

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 444 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.

 

Senior Salute

Megan Vasquez and captain Allie Messimer will play the final home games of their Yale careers this weekend. The senior pair will close their Yale careers with at least 53 wins overall and 31 Ivy League Ivy League victories. It is the most victories by a single class since the Class of 1996 and the most Ivy League victories since the Class of 1989. During her four years in a Yale uniform, Vasquez has established herself as one of the greatest offensive players to ever play for the Bulldogs. She currently has scored 1,353 points in her Yale career, which ranks seventh on Yale's all-time scoring list. Yale's leading scorer in each of her first three seasons, Vasquez was an All-Ivy League First Team selection following her sophomore and junior seasons, one of only six Yale players to earn First Team honors more than once in a career. Messimer is the 35th captain in the 40-year history of Yale Women's Basketball. During her four seasons, she established herself as one of the best 3-point shooters in Yale's history, ranking No. 7 on Yale's all-time list with 112 made 3-pointers in her career and No. 9 in Yale's history in 3-point shooting percentage (33.9 percent).

 

Record Night for Halejian

In Yale's 69-66 loss at Harvard on Feb. 23, Sarah Halejian cemented her place in Yale's record books. She scored 29 points on 12-of-15 shooting. The 29 points, 12 made field goals and her 80.0 percent field goal percentage all place second in Yale's single-game records. Halejian scored 22 of her points in the second half alone, which would have been enough to surpass her previous career-high of 21 points. Erica Davis '07 scored the most points in a single game when she scored 36 at Lafayette on Jan. 7, 2004. Davis and Megan Vasquez both scored 28 points in a single game, which was No. 2 before Halejian's outing at Harvard. Davis set the single-game mark on 15 made field goals, which is also Yale's single-game record. Halejian's 12-for-15 performance (80.0 percent) matches Melissa Colborne '10 for the No. 2 spot. Colborne was 8-for-10 at Columbia on Feb. 1, 2008. Michelle Cashen '12 is Yale's record holder with a 90.0 percent night at Colorado on Jan. 4, 2010.

 

Vasquez Milestone Watch

Senior guard Megan Vasquez continues her climb to the top of Yale's all-time scoring list. With her first basket of the game in the win at Cornell, Vasquez became the eighth player in Yale's history to record 1,300 points in a career. After scoring 15 points at Dartmouth and 13 more in the loss at Harvard last weekend, she now has 1,353 career points. She is just 18 points away from matching Seattle Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel '81 (1,371) for sixth place. Vasquez is 65 points out of the Top 5 with four games remaining. Melissa Colborne '10 currently holds the fifth spot on Yale's scoring list with 1,418 career points.

 

Dartmouth/Harvard Split

Despite a record night for Sarah Halejian, Yale dropped a 69-66 loss at Harvard to cap a road split last weekend. Halejian scored a game-high 29 points to lead Yale. Yale trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half but rallied to tie the game three times in the second half, thanks to Halejian, who scored 22 of her points on 9-of-10 shooting in the final 20 minutes. But after Yale tied the game at 56-56 with 4:59 left on a jumper by freshman guard Nyasha Sarju, Harvard used a 9-2 run over the next 3:16 to pull ahead for good. Yale cut the deficit to just three points on a 3-pointer by Halejian with six seconds left, but time ran out before the Bulldogs could tie the game. At Dartmouth on Friday, 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 the Big Green. Allie Messimer matched a career-high 14 points, while Janna Graf recorded her second career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Halejian added 14 points. Yale closed the first half with a dominant defensive effort that sparked a 19-3 run that gave the Bulldogs a 35-26 halftime lead. Yale held Dartmouth without a field goal and just three free throws in the final 6:28 of the first half. The defensive stand held firm until Faziah 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.

 

Bulldog Trends

  • Yale's leading scorer, Sarah Halejian, has scored in double figures in 22 of Yale's 24 games. In her only single-digit games of the season, she scored nine points against Sacred Heart and seven points at Cornell.
  • Halejian is averaging 5.7 rebounds in her last three games.
  • Halejian is averaging 14.5 points per game in Ivy League games, which is third among league leaders.
  • After scoring in double figures just six times in Yale's first 14 games, Megan Vasquez has scored at least 11 points in the last six games, averaging 13.5 points in that span.
  • Halejian has started 41 straight games, including all 24 games this season and the last 17 games of the 2011-12 season.
  • Since scoring just two points in the loss to Dartmouth on Feb. 2, senior guard Megan Vasquez has averaged 13.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists over the last six games. 
  • Since she was held to just six points in the loss to Dartmouth on Feb. 2, junior guard Janna Graf has averaged 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds over the last six games. 
  • Senior captain Allie Messimer is shooting an Ivy League-best 53.6 percent (15-for-28) from 3-point range against Ivy League competition.

 

Yale Athletics Pink Zones Postponed to March 2

Yale's two-day event that is now called "Yale Athletics Pink Zones," which was originally scheduled for Feb. 9, was postponed to March 2 due to the forecast of a blizzard. All events from the weekend, including the "Battle of the Badges" competition, will now be held during the final home weekend of the season. The annual fundraiser, in conjunction with the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's "Play 4Kay" initiative, is dedicated to raising awareness and donations for breast cancer research, with Yale's proceeds once again being donated to the Smilow Cancer Hospital. Last year, Yale hosted the most successful Pink Zone weekend since Yale started participating five years ago. The festivities, which will take place throughout Payne Whitney Gymnasium, will once again include a "Battle of the Badges" competition featuring the Yale and New Haven police and fire departments. Check YaleBulldogs.com for the full schedule.

 

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 Feb. 25, and Yale is ranked No. 24 among the nation's 343 Division I schools in 3-pointers made per game with 7.2 3-pointers per game. Yale is No. 50 in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (33.3 percent). On the defensive end, Yale's 3-point shooting defense was ranked No. 6 in the country. The Bulldogs are holding teams to just 24.8 percent.

 

Historic Sweep of the Empire State

Four players scored in double figures, leading Yale's balanced scoring attack to a 62-43 win at Columbia. The win gave Yale its first weekend road sweep of Cornell and Columbia since the 1997-98 season when it defeated Cornell, 61-56 in overtime, on Feb. 20, 1998, and Columbia, 72-56, on Feb. 21, 1998. It is also Yale's first win at Columbia since a 66-59 win on Feb. 1, 2008. The win follows a 67-58 win at Cornell on Feb. 15. Against the Lions, six players scored all of Yale's points, with Megan Vasquez and Sarah Halejian leading the way with 12 points apiece. Leading 16-11 with 13:38 left in the half, Yale used a 20-0 run over the next 9:50 to blow the game wide open and take a 36-11 lead with 3:48 left in the half. Yale later used a 17-1 run to pull ahead 60-39 with 4:05 left, effectively putting the game out of reach for Columbia. In the win at Cornell, Vasquez reached the 1,300-point milestone with Yale's first basket of the game and finished with 15 points to lead Yale. Janna Graf scored 12 of her 13 points in the second half to help the Bulldogs rally from a second-half deficit.

 

Ivy League's Road Warriors

Following its split at Dartmouth and Harvard last weekend, Yale moved to 4-1 on the road against Ivy League competition. Yale's Ivy League success on the road has been a key factor in the team's overall success over the course of the last three seasons. In the last three seasons, Yale 14-5 in Ivy League road games. In the 2011-12 season, Yale finished with a 16-12 overall record and an 8-6 mark in Ivy League play, with a 5-2 Ivy record on the road. In 2010-11, a season that ended with Yale's first-ever trip to the WNIT, the Bulldogs ended the season in second place in the Ivy League with a program-best 10-4 League record, including a 5-2 mark on the road.

 

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 past Diann Nestel (79-78) and into sole possession of second place on Yale's all-time coaching victories list. After the road victory at Dartmouth on Feb. 22, Gobrecht now has 88 wins at Yale and is now 19 wins behind Cecelia DeMarco (107-127), Yale's all-time winningest head coach.

 

Scoring Points

  • Yale has scored at least 75 points five times this season and is 3-2 in those games, with wins over Houston (84-82), Bucknell (82-62) and Bryant (78-65) and losses at DePaul (95-80) and at Northwestern (83-75). Yale scored at least 75 points on seven occasions in 2011-12, all victories (vs. Holy Cross, at FDU, at Houston, vs. Baruch, at Brown, at Dartmouth, vs. Cornell). In 2010-11, Yale scored 75 points only three times, all in victories (vs. Florida State, vs. Harvard, at Harvard).
  • In the NCAA's Feb. 25 statistics update, Yale is ranked No. 24 among the nation's 343 Division I schools with 7.2 3-pointers made per game and No. 50 in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (33.3 percent).
  • Yale's 3-point shooting defense is ranked No. 6 in the country. The Bulldogs are holding teams to just 24.8 percent.
  • Senior guard Megan Vasquez is 35th in the nation and second in the Ivy League in free-throw shooting percentage (84.9).
  • Graf is second in the Ivy League in 3-pointers made per game with 1.9 per game.
  • Yale leads the Ivy League in 3-pointers made per game (7.2) and defensive 3-point shooting percentage (24.8 percent).
  • Yale is second in the Ivy League in offensive rebounds (13.4 orpg.).
  • Yale is third in the Ivy League in scoring (64.5 ppg.), 3-point shooting percentage (33.3 percent) and free-throw percentage (73.2 percent).
  • The Bulldogs are 4-7 at home this season and 6-7 on the road.

 

Next Up

Following this weekend, Yale will return to the road to close out the  regular season with games at Princeton on March 8 and Penn on March 9. When Yale visits Princeton, it will be the 79th meeting between the two teams. The Tigers lead the series 48-30, and they have won the last nine meetings, with their last loss to the Bulldogs coming in a 56-54 decision in Princeton on Feb. 13, 2009. Yale will close the season at Penn with the hope of completing the season sweep over the Quakers. It will be the 72nd meeting in the history of the series, with Yale holding a 37-34 advantage. Yale is 7-1 over Penn in the last eight meetings and has not lost at Penn since the Feb. 14, 2009 (62-46).

 

Follow the Bulldogs

Be sure to follow the Yale women's basketball team throughout the 2012-13 season on Twitter (@YaleWBBDawgz) and on Facebook ("Yale WBB").

Report filed by Jon Erickson, Jr., Yale Sports Publicity

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