Yale women’s basketball hopes to build on late-season momentum for ‘17-’18

After loses to Harvard and Princeton, the Yale women’s basketball team found itself at 2-7 in league play, one game ahead of last place.  With upcoming games against undefeated Penn and third-place Harvard, it would have been easy to give up and play out the season.  

But the Elis won four of their last five games, including back-to-back victories over the Quakers and Crimson, to end up one game out of the Ivy Tournament.  The Bulldogs will look to build on this late-season success to move into the conference’s upper division for 2017-18.

Yale loses three players to graduation, including guards Lena Munzer and Meghan McIntyre.  Munzer led the team in minutes played (34.6) and assists (2.5), while being second in points (12.7) and rebounds (6.5).  McIntyre played 23.9 minutes a game, with 6.6 points and 1.4 rebounds a game.  The Elis will be led by seniors Jen Berkowitz, Tamara Simpson and Mary Ann Santucci.  Berkowitz was an honorable mention All-Ivy forward who led the team with 13.4 points and 6.9 rebounds a game, while leading the conference with a 51 percent shooting clip.  Simpson, a guard who averaged 9.6 points a game, was the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year.  The Long Island native was first in the conference and 20th in the nation with 79 steals.  Santucci, the incoming captain who started 26 of the team’s 27 contests, averaged 4.6 points and 3.4 rebounds a game.

The Elis will welcome four new players to New Haven this fall.  Alex Cade, a 6’ 1” forward from Cleveland, chose Yale over Penn, Army and Cal State Fullerton, averaging 17 points a game her senior year as well as 16 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and two steals a game in her junior campaign.  Ellen Margaret Andrews from Dallas is 5’10” and listed as a guard, but she can play all five positions.  In her junior year, she was named Large Private School Player of the Year by Texas Association of Basketball Coaches after averaging 34.0 points, 15.5 rebounds, and 4.0 steals a game.  Tori Andrew, a 5’ 10” wing from Minnesota averaged 22.0 points a game and was named to a slot on the second-team All-USA Minnesota by USA Today.  Alessandra Aguirre, a 5’ 9” guard from San Diego, averaged 16.3 points, 4.1 three-pointers and 4.3 rebounds a game.

Yale will start its 13-game nonconference schedule at home on November 10 and 13 when it faces LIU-Brooklyn and Colgate.  Following trips to Kansas and TCU, the Bulldogs will come back home for two Thanksgiving week games against Navy and Providence.  After the holiday, the team start a four-game road trip by heading to Binghamton and Stony Brook of the America East before visiting Central Connecticut State of the NEC and St. Peter’s of the MAAC.   After finals, the Elis close out 2017 by welcoming Indiana before traveling to the Bronx for the Fordham Holiday Classic,  In the first game, Yale will take on UC Davis, a 2017 NIT participant, and either Fordham or Hartford in the second contest.

The Bulldogs will start its Ivy League schedule with back-to-back games against Brown on January 12 and 19.  Although the Bears ended last season in fourth place and did not lose any players for this year, Yale split last year’s series and won at home by 22 points.  On January 26 and 27, the Elis have their first Ivy weekend with a trip to Harvard and Dartmouth, before hosting last year’s second-place Princeton and defending champ Penn the following weekend.  The Bulldogs will finish the first half of the conference slate with a weekend trip to Columbia and Cornell.  Yale will begin the second half of Ivy back-to-backs with four home games.  The squad will welcome the Big Green, a team it swept last year, and Crimson on February 16 and 17. The following weekend, the Elis will host the Big Red, followed by a Senior Night contest against the Lions.  The Bulldogs will then close out the regular season by heading south to take on the Quakers and Tigers on March 2 and 3.

After closing out the season as one of the Ivy League’s hottest squads, the Bulldogs traveled to Italy in June for team bonding and several games against international competition.  If coach Allison Guth and the three senior starters can continue to build confidence and unify this team over the course of the nonconference slate, the upstart Elis may just find their way to the Palestra for the Ivy semifinals on March 10th.