NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The 2017-18 Yale women's basketball season gets underway with a pair of home games, Friday vs. LIU Brooklyn (7:00, Ivy League Network) and Monday vs. Colgate (7:00, Facebook Live, Ivy League Network, WYBC.com). The Bulldogs went 7-4 at John J. Lee Amphitheater last season, including a thrilling win vs. archrival Harvard and a victory over Ivy League champion Penn as part of a 4-1 finish to the campaign.
The 2016-17 season was one to build on for the Yale women's basketball team. The Bulldogs were on a roll at the end, winning four of their last five games to finish with the team's best win total (15) since 2011-12. Four of the six players who averaged 20 or more minutes per game for Yale in 2016-17 return for 2017-18.
Senior guard Mary Ann Santucci (Seattle, Wash.) was elected captain for the 2017-18 season by her teammates. Santucci has missed just one game in her career, and has 48 starts – including 26 starts last season. One of the team's top ballhandlers, she was second on the team in assists last season (2.2 per game) and shot a career-high 35.9 percent from three-point range. She averaged a career-high 4.6 points per game.
Santucci is an ecology and evolutionary biology major in Morse College. She graduated from Seattle Prep.
BERKOWITZ AN ALL-IVY RETURNEE
Senior forward Jen Berkowitz (Wayland, Mass.) returns after earning honorable mention All-Ivy League recognition last season. She led the team and finished sixth in the league with 13.4 points per game. She led the league in shooting percentage (.508) and was ninth in rebounding (6.9 per game). At six-foot-two, she is a formidable presence in the post for the Bulldogs.
Berkowitz is a history of science, medicine and public health major in Saybrook College. She graduated from The Rivers School.
SIMPSON IS REIGNING IVY DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Yale's defense benefits from the return of the reigning Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year, senior guard Tamara Simpson (North Babylon, N.Y.). Simpson already holds the Yale career record for steals (232). She led the league in steals last season with 79 and can contribute offensively as well -- she was third on the team in points per game (9.6).
Simpson is a psychology major in Jonathan Edwards College. She graduated from Portledge School.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
Yale has developed quite a home court advantage in recent years. Since the start of the 2014-15 season the Bulldogs have gone 25-13 (.658) at John J. Lee Amphitheater. Here is a look at the team's home record in each of the past five years:
2012-13: 6-7 (.462)
2013-14: 7-6 (.538)
2014-15: 8-4 (.667)
2015-16: 10-5 (.667)
2016-17: 7-4 (.636)
CLASS OF 2021
Yale welcomes four first years to the roster for the 2017-18 season. All four were captains of their high school teams and bring impressive credentials to New Haven.
The newcomers include a pair of record-setting guards in Ale Aguirre (La Jolla, Calif.) and Tori Andrew (Wayzata, Minn.). Aguirre should be able to stretch opposing defenses: she finished seventh in the nation, second in California and first in San Diego for three-pointers made in a career. She set the national record for three-pointers in a game with 15, earning a mention on ESPN. Andrew is also a threat from deep. A three-time first team all-state selection, she set school career records for scoring, double-doubles and three-pointers made. Her high basketball IQ should enable her to contribute immediately.
The class also includes a pair of forwards. Ellen Margaret Andrews (Dallas, Texas) was the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Large Private Player of the Year as a senior. Her athleticism enabled her to be all-conference in three sports (basketball, track and volleyball), and she was the first player in her school's history to score 1,000 points in a season. Alex Cade (Shaker Heights, Ohio) was a two-time all-state selection and averaged a double-double her senior year (16.7 points, 13.8 rebounds) while adding 4.2 blocks per game.
ALLISON GUTH, YALE'S JOEL E. SMILOW, CLASS OF 1954 HEAD COACH OF WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
Known as a skilled recruiter throughout her 10-plus years of coaching, Allison Guth was named Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball in May of 2015, returning to the Bulldogs after serving as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator from 2010 to 2012. Guth is the 10th head coach in the history of the women's basketball program, which dates to the 1973-74 season.
The team has made steady progress under Guth, whose staff includes assistants Melissa D'Amico, Roman Owen and Jacinda Dunbar -- all also in their third season with Yale. The Bulldogs have improved their win total from season to season in each of the past two years. Last season they finished with their best win total (15) since 2011-12.
Prior to being named Yale's head coach, Guth spent three seasons at Northwestern as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, helping turn the women's basketball team into a national power. In her final season the Wildcats went 23-9 (12-6 Big Ten) and qualified for an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time since 1997.
During her first stint in New Haven, Guth was instrumental in Yale's resurgence as a contender for the Ivy League championship and helped guide the Bulldogs to their best two-year record in 18 years and the most Ivy League wins in a two-year span (18; 10-4 in 2010-11, 8-6 in 2011-12) in the program's history. Guth previously served as an assistant coach at DePaul, Missouri and Loyola-Chicago.
Guth, who led Buffalo Grove (Illinois) High School to the 2000 Class AA State title, and her high school teammates were inducted into the Illinois Coaches Basketball Association Hall of Fame in April of 2013.
A three-time letter winner at Illinois, Guth helped the Illini reach the 2003 NCAA Tournament after earning a spot as a walk-on and then earning a scholarship. An Academic All-Big Ten selection, Guth also played a season with the Illinois women's golf team before graduating in 2004. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business before getting her Master's degree in educational leadership from DePaul in 2010.
SCOUTING LIU BROOKLYN
LIU Brooklyn is coming off a 6-23 season that included a 5-13 record in the NEC. Yale beat LIU 75-44 at the Steinberg Center last December, led by 16 points from senior forward Jen Berkowitz (Wayland, Mass.) and 14 from senior guard Tamara Simpson (North Babylon, N.Y.). The Bulldogs limited the Blackbirds to a 15-for-56 (.268) shooting performance.
Former Seton Hall assistant Stephanie Del Preore is entering her third season as LIU's head coach. The Blackbirds have six newcomers, with the top four scorers from last season gone. Guard Drew Winter returns after leading the team in assists with 52 in 26 games.
Colgate, which opens the season at Canisius Friday, is coming off a 10-20 season that included a 7-11 record in the Patriot League. Guard Rachel Thompson returns after earning Patriot League All-Rookie team honors last year, when she was third on the team and 19th in the league in scoring (10.2), shooting 47.4 percent.
The Raiders are in their second season under head coach Bill Cleary, who took over after compiling a 164-69 (.704) record at Bloomsburg. They start the season with six road games. Yale is one of three Ivy League teams on the Raiders' schedule, joined by Brown and Cornell.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (email@example.com), Yale Sports Publicity
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