Graf Lifts Yale to Victory over Columbia

Janna Graf. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Janna Graf. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Junior Guard Tallies 19 points on 6-of-10 Shooting with 6 Rebounds in Victory


NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The Yale University women's basketball team may be celebrating its seniors in the final home weekend of the season, but it was a junior who provided the inspiration Friday night.

Janna Graf scored 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting and added six rebounds and three assists to lead Yale to a 66-49 win over Columbia inside John J. Lee Amphitheater.

With Senior Night awaiting the Bulldogs on Saturday, the victory, which allowed Yale to improve to 11-14 overall and 6-5 in Ivy League play, came as a relief to the Bulldogs.

"This team has been thinking about tomorrow's game against Cornell all week. This team really loves its seniors," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "This was the game that I was worried about because it was almost like we had to get through tonight to get to Senior Night tomorrow night and Columbia is just so tough for us."

Senior guard Megan Vasquez tallied 15 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals for the Bulldogs, while sophomore guard Sarah Halejian added 13 points, four assists and four steals. Senior captain Allie Messimer added eight points.

With her 15 points, Vasquez now has 1,368 career points, moving into sixth place on Yale's all-time scoring list, passing Seattle Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel '81 (1,363).

Tyler Simpson scored 12 points to lead Columbia, which falls to 3-21 overall, 1-9 in Ivy League play.

Yale transition game led to a pair of runs that helped secure the victory. In the first half, the Bulldogs found a little cushion thanks to 9-1 run that broke a 17-17 tie and gave Yale a 26-18 lead. Defensively, Yale held Columbia to just two field goals over the final 7:56 of the half, which allowed the Bulldogs to go into the halftime break with a 33-26 lead.

Graf scored 11 of her points in the half, including five points in that 9-1 run on a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws.

Columbia did not go down easily in the early portion of the second half, trimming Yale's double-digit lead to just seven points (42-35) with 12:28 left. Yale outscored Columbia 18-6 over the next 8:59 to put the game out of reach, using six points from Halejian and five more from Graf to fuel the run.

"Janna was everywhere," Gobrecht said. "She really set the tone in the first half when she was racing down the floor and getting easy looks at the basket. Megan and Sarah were doing a good job of finding her, but Janna did a good job of playing a solid all-around game. She had to guard their best player in Tyler Simpson, and that is a tough team to rebound against."

Yale won the battle of the boards, outrebounding Columbia 37-33, and outscored the Lions 28-22 in the paint and 15-6 off of turnovers.

The Bulldogs shot 25-for-53 from the floor (47.2 percent), while Columbia was 18-for-52 from the field (34.6 percent).

Yale returns to the John J. Lee Amphitheater for the final time this season on Saturday at 6 p.m. against Cornell. Senior Night festivities, during which Yale will pay tribute to Vasquez and Messimer, are expected to begin around 5:45 p.m.

Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity