NORMAL, Ill. – Yale jumped out to a comfortable lead in the first quarter and pulled away as the game progressed to beat Illinois State 59-45 for its first road win of the season. The Bulldogs are now above .500 at 3-2.
Juniors Jen Berkowitz (18 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks) and Tamara Simpson (16 points, 9 rebounds, 5 steals) led the way for Yale. Simpson, Yale's top returning scorer from a year ago, turned in her best performance of the young season, making the most of her first start in 2016-17.
After two straight road losses last week, Joel E. Smilow '54 head coach Allison Guth said her team needed to get to the free-throw line more often and improve its defensive play. Her players responded with substantial improvements in both areas. In the two losses, Yale averaged 5.5 free-throw attempts, 5 steals and 0 blocks. Since then, Yale has won both its games, averaging 15 free-throw attempts, 7.5 steals and 3.5 blocks.
Yale actually shot slightly worse from the field in the last two games, but improvements to those areas, in addition to a far better assist-to-turnover ratio, resulted in two wins.
One shining example of Yale's improved defense was its focus on Illinois State's leading scorer, Taylor Stewart. Stewart, who had hit seven 3-pointers and scored 24 points in her most recent game, was held to 2 points on 0-for-7 shooting against Yale. Illinois State shot just 28.3% from the field in the game.
Senior Lena Munzer had a season-low 2 points in her return near her hometown of Highland Park, Illinois, but she contributed to the win with 6 rebounds, 2 assists and a block.
Yale is now 2-0 all-time against Illinois State. This game finished very similarly to last year's meeting between the two teams, which Yale won 60-47. The win stopped the Redbirds' bid for a 3-game winning streak.
The Bulldogs will seek a 3-game winning streak of their own when they return to the court after Thanksgiving for a game at Holy Cross on Sunday.
Filed by Andy Dougherty, Yale Sports Publicity