STONY BROOK, N.Y. – The Yale women's basketball team is quickly racking up experience playing in pressure situations on the road -- and the Bulldogs have been coming up big in those situations. The latest test came Wednesday night at Stony Brook, where a pesky Seawolves team pushed the Bulldogs to double overtime thanks to last-second shots at the end of regulation and the first overtime. Yale finally put SBU away by outscoring the Seawolves 9-2 down the stretch in double overtime, coming away with a 77-71 win.
Wednesday's win comes on the heels of a 73-69 overtime win last Saturday at Binghamton -- and for Allison Guth, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball, that is no coincidence.
"I'm really proud of our kids for finding a way to grind it out against a very good Stony Brook team," said Guth. "That experience at Binghamton, going into overtime and winning, gave us confidence."
Stony Brook entered the day ranked fifth in the nation in scoring defense (allowing just 51.9 points per game), but the Bulldogs overcame that with some balanced scoring -- four players hit double digits, led by 26 from senior forward Jen Berkowitz. She tied her career high in that category, and added a team-best 13 rebounds. Sophomore guard Roxy Barahman added 17 points, while senior guard Tamara Simpson had 15 and nine steals. The Bulldogs got 27 points off turnovers.
Playing just 25 miles from her home town of North Babylon, N.Y., Simpson hit a three-pointer early to give Yale a 5-2 lead. But the Bulldogs could not gain any further separation from the Seawolves in the first quarter. They went into the second with a 13-12 lead.
Stony Brook (5-3, 0-0 America East) enjoyed a 9-0 run midway through the second that turned a two-point deficit into a seven-point lead. After a Bulldogs timeout, first-year forward Ellen Margaret Andrews hit a pair of free throws to bring SBU's run to an end. Still, thanks to a late three-pointer by guard Shania Johnson, the Seawolves ended the first half with a 29-24 lead.
Yale (5-3, 0-0 Ivy League) opened the third quarter with a 9-2 run that culminated in a three-pointer by Barahman. The Seawolves answered with a three of their own, but the Bulldogs eventually built a seven-point lead on a pair of three-pointers by Berkowitz.
The Seawolves then went on a 9-0 run, taking a 45-43 lead, before Simpson answered with a three-pointer. She later added a steal and a layup to help send the Bulldogs into the fourth quarter up 48-47. Yale wound up shooting 71 percent in the third quarter after shooting only 29 percent in the first half.
"We were forcing too many things in the first half," said Guth. "Starting in the second quarter, we just got better shots. It started from our defensive intensity, getting stops."
With the game tied 50-50 in the fourth, defense provided the spark as Yale took the lead. Not surprisingly, Simpson was the primary instigator, as she had a pair of steals -- one that she followed with a layup, and another that she followed with a free throw. Barahman then followed up a steal of her own by swishing a pull-up jumper. Suddenly down by five, Stony Brook called time with 5:36 to play.
The Seawolves would eventually whittle Yale's lead down to one, and the Bulldogs were up 58-56 after Berkowitz hit a free throw with 40 seconds left. But Stony Brook would not go away quietly, as a layup by forward Cheyenne Clark with 11 seconds left sent the game into overtime.
A steal and a layup by Simpson gave Yale a 62-59 lead with 2:13 left in the first overtime, but Stony Brook would eventually tie the game again with a last-second shot -- this one a three-pointer by guard Jerell Matthews with 4.7 seconds on the clock.
The Bulldogs once again regrouped. After falling behind twice early in the second overtime, they went ahead 70-69 on a layup by Berkowitz with 3:45 left. After a defensive rebound by Berkowitz, Barahman's pull-up jumper gave Yale a three-point edge.
Stony Brook got back within one on a layup by Clark before the Bulldogs pulled away for good. First, Berkowitz calmly hit a pair of free throws to make it 74-71 with 48 seconds left. Her classmates then provided the back-breaker, as Simpson got her ninth steal and fed Santucci for a layup that made it a five-point game with 40 seconds left. A free throw by Berkowitz with 26 seconds left made the final 77-71.
"That's senior leadership," said Guth. "It starts with Tamara Simpson, Mary Ann Santucci and Jen Berkowitz. Tucci provided the poise, Tamara provided the defensive spark, and Jen provided the offensive execution."
The seniors' efforts were supplemented by contributions from a variety of other sources.
"What we take away from this is that people stepped up when their name was called," said Guth. "[Junior forward] Alexandra Maund gave us some key minutes. Ellen Margaret Andrews [nine points, two rebounds in 22 minutes] was fantastic."
Yale plays its third straight road game this Saturday, traveling to Central Connecticut for a 1:00 p.m. start.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity