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Bulldogs Fall to Princeton, Ending Hopes of Ivy Tourney Bid

Yale president Peter Salovey; assistant coach Danielle Brown; Gabby Nelson; Alexandra Maund; Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach Allison Guth; assistant coach Lashay Banks; assistant coach Emma Golen and athletic director Vicky Chun on Senior Night. (photo by Steve Musco, muscosportsphotos.com)
Yale president Peter Salovey; assistant coach Danielle Brown; Gabby Nelson; Alexandra Maund; Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach Allison Guth; assistant coach Lashay Banks; assistant coach Emma Golen and athletic director Vicky Chun on Senior Night. (photo by Steve Musco, muscosportsphotos.com)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – There was no storybook ending for the Yale women's basketball team Saturday night at Lee Amphitheater, as defending Ivy League champion Princeton utilized a 19-2 run late in the game to pull away from the Bulldogs for an 80-68 win. The Bulldogs, who could have earned the last spot in the Ivy League Tournament with a win, instead saw Princeton claim a share of the Ivy League title with Penn. The Tigers will be the top seed in the Ivy Tournament, which starts next Saturday at Lee. Harvard is the No. 3 seed and Cornell wound up claiming the fourth spot with a win at Dartmouth.

Yale (16-13, 6-8 Ivy League) paid tribute to its two seniors -- forward Alexandra Maund and guard Gabby Nelson -- in a ceremony before the game, and both earned starts. Nelson got the game off to a great start by draining a three-pointer for Yale's first points of the day. Maund would go on to finish with four points and three rebounds.

The Bulldogs hung with the Tigers -- who came into the game on a nine-game winning streak and had won 18 of their past 20 -- for much of the first three quarters of the game. Down 18-14 after the first quarter, the Bulldogs fell behind by as many as 14 in the second before closing with a 7-0 run that cut the halftime deficit to seven.

The end of the second quarter was also noteworthy in that the Bulldogs -- who played 13 players in the game -- worked in junior center Jessica Lezon for her first game action in two years. Lezon missed last season and most of this season due to injury.

Yale twice cut its deficit to two in the third quarter, playing off the energy of a large home crowd that included dozens of alums back for Alumnae Weekend. But after a three-pointer by sophomore guard Mackenzie Hewitt cut the deficit to three with 1:27 left, the Tigers went on that 19-2 run. It started with a pair of free throws from forward Bella Alarie, who would finish with 31 points.

Princeton (20-9-, 12-2 Ivy League), playing for the Ivy League title, got the lead back into double digits early in the fourth quarter. The Tigers grew that lead to as many as 17 before a late Yale run got it down to 12 just before the final buzzer. With Penn's win at Brown Saturday, the Quakers and the Tigers shared the Ivy crown.

The waning moments of the game saw Maund (who fouled out) and Nelson both come off the court for emotional embraces with Allison Guth, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball, and their teammates. The duo helped the program achieve many milestones. Last year's team won a school-record 19 games and claimed the WBI Championship -- becoming the first Ivy League women's basketball team to win a national postseason tournament. This year the Bulldogs won at Princeton for the first time in 10 years and beat archrival Harvard for the third time in three years. The team's 16 wins this season is tied for third-most in program history.

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Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity