Courtesy of Yale Sports Publicity
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The Yale University women's basketball program made significant strides throughout the 2010-11 season in the quest for higher prominence among the nation's Division I basketball teams, but that does not help heal the sting from a loss that ends a season.
The Bulldogs saw a few firsts, and even a some things that they had not accomplished in decades, but none of the accomplishments were bigger than the way they ended the 2010-11 season. The Bulldogs made their first-ever appearance in a national postseason tournament, qualifying for the Women's National Invitational Tournament by earning the Ivy League's automatic berth that goes to the League's second-place finisher.
Yale finished tied for second in the Ivy League with Harvard, with both teams closing the season with identical 10-4 records in League play. It was Yale's highest finish since the 1988-89 season, the only other season that Yale finished Ivy play with a 10-4 mark. Yale earned the Ivy's automatic berth by sweeping Harvard during the regular season for the first time since the 1993-94 season.
Yale's reward was a meeting with Atlantic Coast Conference power Boston College, a team that entered the game as the ninth-highest scoring offense in the nation. The Eagles are led by senior Carolyn Swords, a 6-foot-6 center who is the nation's best shooter (72.2 percent) and averages 17.6 points and 9.0 rebounds per game.
The Bulldogs found a way to limit Swords, but the rest of the Eagles did more than enough to compensate.
Senior guard Jaclyn Thoman scored a game-high 23 points to lead Boston College to an 85-61 win over Yale Thursday night in the first round of the Women's National Invitational Tournament inside John J. Lee Amphitheater, ending Yale's first postseason tournament appearance since 1979.
Boston College senior forward Stefanie Murphy scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while freshman guard Kristen Doherty added 11 points and five rebounds. Yale held Swords to just nine points, well short of her 17.6 ppg. average, but she was still a force in the paint, grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds in only 20 minutes of action.
Yale was led by freshman forward Janna Graf, who scored a team-high 15 points to go along with four rebounds and three steals. In her final game in a Yale uniform, senior forward Mady Gobrecht collected 10 points, five rebounds and four steals. Junior forward Michelle Cashen scored 11 points.
Yale's only lead of the game came just 2:00 into the game on a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Aarica West that gave the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead. The Bulldogs kept pace with the Eagles through the first 10 minutes and trailed by just four points, 19-15, with 10:02 remaining in the first half.
However, adjustments made by the Eagles over the final 10 minutes of the half were more than enough to give them total control. The Eagles went on an 11-0 run over the next 4:45 to open up a 30-15 lead. B.C. outscored Yale 28-13 over the final 9:41 to go into the halftime break with a 47-28 lead.
The second half started in much the same way as the first half ended. Boston College scored the first six points of the half to extend its lead to 25 points, 53-28. It was more than enough cushion to carry the Eagles into the second round of the WNIT and end a remarkable season for the Bulldogs.
The Eagles took control of the game behind their ability to find scoring opportunities inside. They outscored the Bulldogs 60-24 in the paint and 13-2 off of second-chance opportunities. While Swords was not the offensive force that the Bulldogs were expecting, the rest of the Eagles found a way to drive to the basket, and they dominated the boards throughout the game, outrebounding the Bulldogs 46-21.
The result allows Boston College to advance to a second-round matchup with St. Joseph's, which defeated Virginia Commonwealth, 72-66, to advance. Meanwhile, Yale will look to next season, having experienced a national postseason tournament for the first time in its 38-year history. And while Gobrecht and senior captain Yoyo Greenfield see their careers come to an end, the returning players already have a goal in mind for the 2011-12 season.
"The fact that we made postseason play is a huge accomplishment and I think the team needs to go into every season from now on with that high bar and reach it every single year from now on. I think it is a standard," Gobrecht said.
WNIT First Round Quotes
Boston College 85, Yale 61
March 17, 2011
YALE HEAD COACH CHRIS GOBRECHT
On tonight's loss
"They had a lot of big seniors. It was a pretty tall order. I thought we did a pretty good job in the second half. I thought we competed in the second half, but I thought they definitely stunned us early. We just were not ready for how big and strong they are."