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Fourth-Quarter Defense Pushes Bulldogs Past Crusaders

Whitney Wyckoff (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Whitney Wyckoff (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Wyckoff Records Double-Double In Win

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – It took three quarters for the Yale women's basketball team to grow accustomed to Holy Cross on Wednesday afternoon, but once it did, the Bulldogs exploded for a 22-9 period on their way to a 69-59 victory in the Lee Amphitheater.

Facing a three-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter, the Elis' (4-2) defense found a new wind – completely baffling the Holy Cross offense and holding it to just two points until there was just 1:08 remaining in the game.

"It was a complete defensive effort in the fourth quarter that won this game for us. I wish our kids came out with that intensity from the tip," said Joel E. Smilow '54 head coach Allison Guth. "We found a way to get it done."

The Bulldogs held the Crusaders to 17.6-percent shooting (3-of-17) in the final quarter, while countering with a 58.3-percent (7-of-12) effort of their own. Following a 24-point third quarter, Yale used aggressive defense to slow down the Holy Cross attack, which was led by Raquel Scott.

"She is so talented. She's a great ballplayer – had a double-double at halftime and getting us posted up everywhere. We really had to adjust our plan," said Guth about Scott, who scored 26 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for the Crusaders.

Despite 22 turnovers in the game, the Bulldogs recovered when it mattered most – especially on the glass. Yale held a monstrous 51-33 rebounding advantage in the game, including a 12-5 advantage on the defensive glass in the fourth quarter.

Senior forward Nyasha Sarju (Seattle, Wash.) continued her success with a 19-point effort on 9-of-15 shooting, a team-best. Senior guard Whitney Wyckoff (West Chester, Ohio) recorded her first-career double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds in the win.

"I thought our offensive execution worked really well in the second half, set by the tempo of Whitney (Wyckoff). She did a great job of getting us in what we needed to be and having an attack mentality," said Guth.

For the second time in three games, four different players scored in double-figures for the Bulldogs, including junior guard Meghan McIntyre (Santa Rosa Valley, Calif.) with a season-high 11 points and sophomore guard Tamara Simpson (North Babylon, N.Y.) with 10.

As a team, the Bulldogs shot 53.3-percent (16-of-30) from the field in the second half as opposed to 34.4-percent (11-of-32) in the first.

"I loved the looks we were getting offensively. We had some wide-open shots that we just couldn't knock down, but I know we'll start scoring," said Guth. "When the shots weren't falling though, we attacked at the rim and looked to get points at the free throw line."

Trailing 50-47 going into the fourth quarter, the Elis went on a 17-2 run over the first nine minutes of the period to pull away from the Crusaders. Sarju had nine points in the quarter and McIntyre was 2-of-3 from long range.

Scott, who went into the half with 10 points and 10 rebounds, was held to just five points in the fourth with a collective effort by the Yale defense needed to slow her down.

Yale trailed 26-24 going into halftime and was shooting 1-11 from three-point range. Due to the sharp-shooting in the second half, the Bulldogs ended the game shooting 43.5-percent from the field, compared to Holy Cross' 37.3-percent.

Sophomore forward Jen Berkowitz (Wayland, Mass.) had eight points and nine rebounds in the win, including a team-high five offensive boards. Wyckoff and sophomore guard Mary Ann Santucci (Seattle, Wash.) each had five assists to help the offense.

The Bulldogs will have a few days off before heading to Mohegan Sun on Sunday to play West Virginia in the final game of the Hall of Fame Women's Challenge. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.

Yale women's basketball would like to wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Enjoy the holiday!


Filed by Steve Lewis, Yale Sports Publicity