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Bigs Fuel Second-Half Surge as Yale Tops Columbia 67-54

Alex Cade. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Alex Cade. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW YORK – With the calendar having just turned to March, the Yale women's basketball team entered Saturday's game at Columbia in the thick of the hunt for one of the four spots in the Ivy League Tournament. The fourth-place Bulldogs had little room for error, though, as they faced a Lions squad that was one game behind them in the standings with three games to play. And Yale wound up falling behind by as many as 11 points, adding to the drama in front of a large crowd at Levien Gym. But then a trio of Bulldog forwards stepped up. And by the time sophomore Alex Cade, first year Camilla Emsbo and senior Alex Maund were done, they had combined to score 41 points and fuel a decisive 20-2 Yale run in the second half. The Bulldogs came away with a 67-54 win.

"Camilla Emsbo, Alexandra Maund and Alex Cade just would not be denied tonight," said Allison Guth, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "That was really fun. Our guards trusted those guys."

Emsbo enjoyed her highest-scoring night since Feb. 15, scoring 13 of her 17 points in the second half. Maund came off the bench to add 14 points -- part of a night in which Yale's bench outscored Columbia's bench 25-13. And Cade reached double digits (10 points) for the first time since Feb. 8, adding eight rebounds (tied with Emsbo for the team high).

Those efforts turned the tide dramatically in Yale's favor after Columbia (8-17, 4-8 Ivy League) took a 44-38 lead in the third quarter. A three-point play by junior guard Roxy Barahman with 3:20 left sparked an 11-0 run at the end of the third, including a go-ahead basket from Cade at 2:27.

After that, Yale (16-11, 6-6 Ivy League) never looked back. Columbia got the first two points of the fourth quarter, but Emsbo scored the next seven points and Cade added two more before Columbia scored again. By then Yale had built a 58-46 lead, and the Lions got no closer than 10 the rest of the way.

 Maund led a Yale bench effort that also included three-pointers from first-year guards Robin Gallagher and Mackenzie Hewitt along with senior guard Gabby Nelson. All told, eight different Bulldogs scored and eight different Bulldogs had rebounds. That made this the type of top-to-bottom effort that will be needed on a regular basis as the battle for a spot in the Ivy League Tournament heats up.

"The 46 points in the paint, to me, is the difference in the game," said Guth. "But behind the scenes, this team is believing in each other."

It wound up being a relatively quiet night in terms of points for Barahman, who scored nine a night after notching 18 -- including the 1,000th of her career -- Friday at Cornell. But she found plenty of other ways to contribute Saturday.

"One special thing about her, she gave us everything she could from a defensive standpoint," said Guth. "This weekend she played fearless and with a will-not-be-denied attitude, and that became contagious. I'm incredibly proud of her leadership."

With a loss by Dartmouth at Penn Saturday, Yale now has sole possession of fourth place in the Ivy League standings -- and has the tiebreaker on the Big Green. Cornell is also one game behind Yale, and the Bulldogs are one game behind third-place Harvard.

That all adds up to what should be an exciting final weekend of the regular season next weekend, starting with Yale's game vs. Penn Friday. The Quakers and Princeton are tied for first.

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