NEW HAVEN, Conn. – For the Yale women's basketball team, the battle for a spot in the Ivy League Tournament will come down to the last day of the season. The Bulldogs entered the weekend in control of their own destiny for a spot in the tournament and -- despite a 65-56 loss to Peen at Lee Amphitheater Friday night -- they still have it. A chance to clinch that spot Friday night slipped through the Bulldogs' fingers, however, as the Quakers rallied from a four-point deficit with 8:56 to play for the win.
Yale (16-12, 6-7 Ivy League) was hurt by a slow start, as Penn jumped out to an 18-8 lead after the first quarter. The Bulldogs trimmed that lead by just a point in the second quarter but staged a dramatic turnaround in the third. They outscored the Quakers 21-12 in that frame, capped by a putback from sophomore forward Alex Cade that tied the game 40-40 heading into the final quarter.
"You see this team, they fight so hard," said Allison Guth, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "Penn is a very elite team. To see what our team -- particularly our younger players -- can do against them is something we're really excited about as a staff."
Jumpers by Cade and junior guard Roxy Barahman then gave the Bulldogs a four-point lead early in the fourth. But they could not maintain that momentum against Penn (21-5, 11-2 Ivy League), a team that was fighting to maintain its spot tied with Princeton atop the Ivy League standings. The Quakers put together a 10-0 run, including seven points from center Eleah Parker, to re-establish control. Yale got no closer than four the rest of the way, and Penn ended the game on an 8-3 run.
Barahman finished with a team-best 14 points and six assists. Senior forward Alexandra Maund -- who sang the National Anthem before the game -- finished with a career-best 13 rebounds. First-year forward Camilla Emsbo added nine points, eight rebounds and four blocks.
After the game Yale had to do some scoreboard watching. A win by Dartmouth over Columbia moved the Big Green into a tie with the Bulldogs for fourth place in the Ivy standings, while a loss by Cornell at Harvard kept the Big Red from joining the Bulldogs and Big Green in that tie for fourth.
Because Yale has the tiebreaker on Dartmouth -- the teams tied the season series, but Yale has a win over a team higher in the Ivy standings (Princeton) than any team Dartmouth has beaten -- the Bulldogs can clinch the fourth and final spot in the Ivy Tournament with a win vs. Princeton on Saturday.
However, because either Cornell or Dartmouth is guaranteed to win Saturday (they play each other), a loss by Yale would eliminate the Bulldogs from Ivy Tournament contention because either Dartmouth would move ahead of them in the standings or Cornell -- which has the tiebreaker on Yale after winning the season series -- would tie them and the Big Green for fourth.
That leaves plenty on the line for Saturday.
"We want to earn it," said Guth. "There's a group of kids really disappointed after today's game, but happy there's still an opportunity."
Tipoff vs. Princeton is 5:00 p.m., and the game is on ESPN+.
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Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity