NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Yale earned its biggest win of the season with a 61-48 victory over first-place Penn in front of a spirited crowd at John J. Lee Amphitheater during alumni weekend. Penn (15-7, 8-1 Ivy) suffers its first Ivy League loss of the season, while Yale improves to 12-11 (3-7 Ivy). The win snapped a seven-game losing streak against Penn; Yale's last win in the series came in March of 2013.
Joel E. Smilow head coach Allison Guth said after the game, "This type of win against an undefeated No. 1 team is one of those program-changing type of wins, because you get your kids to believe…It shows the gumption of our kids, and I'm so proud of them."
Yale got off to a hot start and led 12-5 out of the gates. Penn responded with two layups and two 3-pointers to take a 15-12 lead early in the second quarter. The two teams went back and forth after that, with Mary Ann Santucci providing the lion's share of the offense for the Bulldogs. She completed a 3-point play with 50 seconds left to tie the score at 30 heading into the break. She had already tied her career high of 13 points by halftime, and she broke it by the end of the game with 15 points.
Yale started the second half where it left off in the first, with a 3-point play. Jen Berkowitz converted this time to give the Bulldogs a 33-30 lead. Yale kept the momentum going, outscoring Penn 13-6 in the frame to take a 43-36 lead into the fourth quarter.
Yale kept its foot on the gas pedal in the fourth, outscoring Penn 18-12 to close out the 61-48 win. Jen Berkowitz finished with a career-high 26 points (19 in the second half) to lead all scorers.
Berkowitz explained how her team pulled off the win, saying, "Honestly, we went in with a mentality of nothing to lose, and we just had fun." When asked where this game ranked in her career, she said, "I think it was the best feeling overall, and this celebration is just incredible…I don't think there are words to explain how happy I am. We knew we could do it, and tonight we finally proved it."
Guth said of Berkowitz's performance, "She just was fearless. She played with an attack and she was awesome." Guth also praised Mary Ann Santucci after her career-high 15 points. "Tucci was phenomenal tonight. She controlled the tempo so well. She got us in our defenses really well. I think her scoring early gave her the confidence, but she was doing it off the bounce and behind the arc. I think she shared the ball very well tonight, handled the pressure when they were doing their full-court pressure. So proud of her. Again, a kid that can bring that every single night. She dererves it. She's put a lot of time and effort in."
Guth talked about the significance of the win coming during alumni weekend, with many of the players' former teammates and other past Yale women's basketball players on hand to cheer the team on. "This says a lot about the gumption of our kids, and them wanting to play for something bigger than themselves, what this entire Yale women's basketball family is all about," Guth said. "That energy, and that passion – it was inspired basketball, and that was fun to coach, and it was fun to be a part of."
Guth made sure to reiterate what it meant to have such strong support. "We had the band out there – that band brought the juice, the energy. Our family supporters are incredible. And again, I can't say enough, I really would like a mention of our alums, because you get people back here who are [not only] passionate about their times as students, but as athletes, and want to give back and want to be a part of this. I think it shows Yale women's basketball is something really special."
The Bulldogs will try to build on this win next weekend, as they stay at home with games against Harvard and Dartmouth, in rematches of games from earlier this month. Last Saturday, Yale beat Dartmouth 57-50, followed by a 76-56 loss at Harvard last Sunday. Yale hosts Harvard this coming Friday, Feb. 24, at 6 p.m. and takes on Dartmouth this coming Saturday, Feb. 25, at 7:30 p.m.
Filed by Andy Dougherty, Yale Sports Publicity