Bulldogs Outlast Cornell on Senior Night

Allie Messimer. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Allie Messimer. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Vasquez Nets 18 Points, 6 Rebounds in Final Home Game

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The Yale University women's basketball team wanted to send out seniors Megan Vasquez and Allie Messimer out on a high note in the final home game of the season, but they had to put in extra work to get that celebratory victory.

Vasquez tallied 18 points and six rebounds in the final home game of her Yale career to lead the Bulldogs to a 71-64 win over Cornell on Senior Night inside John J. Lee Amphitheater Saturday night.

With the win, Yale improves to 12-14 overall and 7-5 in Ivy League play, while Cornell falls to 11-14 overall and 3-8 in Ivy League play.

Sophomore guard Sarah Halejian scored 17 points and pulled down five rebounds, while junior guard Janna Graf nearly completed a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds.

Yale had to outlast a pair of stellar performances from Cornell's Allyson DiMagno and Spencer Lane, who both recorded double-doubles. Lane scored 20 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and tallied six steals to lead the Big Red, while DiMagno had 18 points and 13 rebounds.

"Cornell did everything they needed to do to win the game. We just hit some big shots," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "Cornell is good and I am very thankful that we were able to beat them this year because I think they are very good. I think they have proven it. They played Princeton very tough and took Harvard into overtime at Harvard. That is a good team. I just thought some kids really stepped up for us after they went on that run to start the second half."

The game got off to a rough start for both sides as Cornell and Yale both missed eight of their first 12 shot attempts in the opening eight minutes of play, with only an early free throw making the difference in the scoring and leading to a 10-9 Cornell lead at the 11:58 mark.

It was a layup by Taylor Flynn that gave Cornell its 10th point of the game and a 10-5 lead, but after that, Yale turned up the defensive pressure and held the Big Red to just two field goals the rest of the way — both coming on layups by DiMagno with 9:12 and 2:22 on the clock.

The Bulldogs' defense turned the 10-5 deficit into a 28-17 lead by the halftime break. Cornell's last lead of the half came on DiMagno's layup at 9:12 for a 13-11 edge, but Yale outscored the Big Red 17-6 over the final 8:16 of the half.

Cornell turned the tables on the Bulldogs in a hurry, scoring the first six points of the second half to jumpstart a 21-7 run that gave the Big Red a 38-35 lead with 11:53 remaining. It was Cornell's first lead since the 9:12 mark of the first half.

The teams traded points until a layup by Lane allowed Cornell to tie the game at 43-43 with 8:12 left. But Yale scored the next six points on back-to-back 3-pointers by Halejian and Vasquez, giving the Bulldogs a 49-43 lead, an advantage that they did not relinquish the rest of the way.

The six-point burst by Halejian and Vasquez was part of a game-changing 16-6 run that allowed the Bulldogs to erase Cornell's last lead of the game (41-39 at 8:32) and pull ahead 55-47with 4:43 left.

A DiMagno layup with 2:27 left helped Cornell cut Yale's lead to 60-55, but the Bulldogs went 6-for-8 from the free-throw line in the final 1:41 to secure the victory.

"Megan and Sarah really stepped up for us in the second half and Meredith Boardman (9 points, 4 rebounds) was really big down the stretch," Gobrecht said. "This team has really grown. We're playing some good basketball and we're excited for next weekend."

Yale closes out the regular season at Princeton on March 8 and Penn on March 9. After winning six of their last eight games, Yale is hoping that the pair of wins that came on Senior Weekend leads to a strong finish against the top two teams in the Ivy League.

"I am so thankful for this win because these two seniors deserve to celebrate tonight," Gobrecht said. "They have been an unbelievable part of this program for four years they probably had as great of an impact as any two seniors that we have had in the program. I am really happy for them."

Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity