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First Road Trip Takes Yale to Kansas, TCU

Gabby Nelson. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Gabby Nelson. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

YALE-KANSAS SUNDAY 1:00 P.M. Central Time

YALE-TCU TUESDAY 7:30 P.M. Central Time

 

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The first road trip of the 2017-18 season for the Yale women's basketball team is also the longest one -- the Bulldogs are headed to Kansas and Texas Christian University, a trip that will total more than 3,100 miles. Yale plays at Kansas Sunday (1:00 p.m. Central Time, JTV/ESPN3, Jayhawk Radio Network), then heads to Texas that night and faces TCU Tuesday (6:30 p.m. Central Time, Fox Sports Southwest Plus, TCU Sports Network Radio).  

 

ROAD TRIP IS HOMECOMING FOR THREE BULLDOGS

Yale's trip to Kansas and Texas will bring three players back to their home states. Sophomore guard Jessica Steffen is from Hutchinson, Kan., approximately 180 miles from Lawrence, Kan., where the Bulldogs will play the Jayhawks on Sunday afternoon. Steffen graduated from Buhler High School, where she averaged 17.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 3.0 assists per game during her career. She set the school records for free throws in a season (156), free-throw percentage in a season (86 percent) and three pointers in a game (seven). She also played tennis at Buhler.

Texas is home to a pair of Bulldogs. First-year forward Ellen Margaret Andrews is from Dallas, 35 miles east of Fort Worth, Texas, where the Bulldogs will play TCU on Tuesday night. Andrews was the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Large Private Player of the Year as a senior at Greenhill School. Her athleticism enabled her to be all-conference in three sports (basketball, track and volleyball), and she was the first player in her school's history to score 1,000 points in a season.

Junior guard/forward Gabby Nelson is from Hurst, Texas, less than 20 miles Northeast of TCU. Nelson graduated from Birdville High School, where she was a three-time captain of the basketball team. She averaged 14.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, two steals and one block per game. She was a three-time first team all-district pick and was the unanimous district MVP in 2014-15, when she was also all-state and all-region.   

 

BULLDOGS OFF TO HOT START

Yale is off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2013, and a win Sunday would give the Bulldogs their first 3-0 start since starting the 1998-99 season 4-0. The Bulldogs have outscored their first two opponents, LIU Brooklyn and Colgate, 144-107. The 82 points they scored in Monday's win vs. the Raiders represent the most they have scored in Allison Guth's three seasons as Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball.

 

TRACKING THE THREE-POINTERS

Yale hit 10 three-pointers in Monday's 82-56 win vs. Colgate, the most the Bulldogs have hit in a game since hitting 11 last Dec. 1. That included seven threes in the first quarter alone, led by three from first-year guard Tori Andrew (Wayzata, Minn.). Last year the Bulldogs averaged 6.8 threes per game.

 

CAPTAIN SANTUCCI

Senior guard Mary Ann Santucci (Seattle, Wash.) was elected captain for the 2017-18 season by her teammates. Santucci has missed just one game in her career, and has 49 starts – including 26 starts last season. One of the team's top ballhandlers, she was second on the team in assists last season (2.2 per game) and shot a career-high 35.9 percent from three-point range. She averaged a career-high 4.6 points per game.

Santucci is an ecology and evolutionary biology major in Morse College. She graduated from Seattle Prep.

 

BERKOWITZ AN ALL-IVY RETURNEE

Senior forward Jen Berkowitz (Wayland, Mass.) returns after earning honorable mention All-Ivy League recognition last season. She led the team and finished sixth in the league with 13.4 points per game. She led the league in shooting percentage (.508) and was ninth in rebounding (6.9 per game). At six-foot-two, she is a formidable presence in the post for the Bulldogs.

Through two games this season, Berkowitz is second on the team in scoring (15.0 points per game) and rebounding (7.5).

Berkowitz is a history of science, medicine and public health major in Saybrook College. She graduated from The Rivers School.

 

SIMPSON IS REIGNING IVY DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Yale's defense benefits from the return of the reigning Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year, senior guard Tamara Simpson (North Babylon, N.Y.). Simpson already holds the Yale career record for steals (238 entering Sunday's game). She led the league in steals last season with 79 and can contribute offensively as well -- she was third on the team in points per game (9.6). She scored 21 points in the season-opening 62-51 win vs. LIU Brooklyn, shooting 6-for-12 from the field.

Through two games this season Simpson is leading the team in scoring, averaging 15.5 points per game, and steals, averaging 3.0 per game.

Simpson is a psychology major in Jonathan Edwards College. She graduated from Portledge School.

 

BARAHMAN ON THE REBOUND

Sophomore guard Roxy Barahman (Calabasas, Calif.) has been making up for lost time in the first two games this season. Barahman was limited to 17 games (one start) last season, but is one of four players averaging 25.0 minutes or more through the first two games this season -- and she is leading the Bulldogs in rebounding (9.5 per game).

Barahman tied her career high with four assists in Monday's win vs. Colgate, and set a career high with 11 rebounds. She also scored 11 points.

Barahman is in Davenport College and is a graduate of Oaks Christian.

 

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE

Yale has developed quite a home court advantage in recent years. Since the start of the 2014-15 season the Bulldogs have gone 27-13 (.675) at John J. Lee Amphitheater. Here is a look at the team's home record in the past five+ seasons:

2012-13: 6-7 (.462)
2013-14: 7-6 (.538)
2014-15: 8-4 (.667)
2015-16: 10-5 (.667)
2016-17: 7-4 (.636)
2017-18: 2-0 (1.000)

 

CLASS OF 2021

Yale welcomes four first years to the roster for the 2017-18 season. All four were captains of their high school teams and bring impressive credentials to New Haven.

The newcomers include a pair of record-setting guards in Ale Aguirre (La Jolla, Calif.) and Tori Andrew (Wayzata, Minn.). Aguirre should be able to stretch opposing defenses: she finished seventh in the nation, second in California and first in San Diego for three-pointers made in a career. She set the national record for three-pointers in a game with 15, earning a mention on ESPN. Andrew is also a threat from deep. A three-time first team all-state selection, she set school career records for scoring, double-doubles and three-pointers made. Her high basketball IQ should enable her to contribute immediately.

The class also includes a pair of forwards. Ellen Margaret Andrews (Dallas, Texas) was the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Large Private Player of the Year as a senior. Her athleticism enabled her to be all-conference in three sports (basketball, track and volleyball), and she was the first player in her school's history to score 1,000 points in a season. Alex Cade (Shaker Heights, Ohio) was a two-time all-state selection and averaged a double-double her senior year (16.7 points, 13.8 rebounds) while adding 4.2 blocks per game.

 

A SEASON TO BUILD ON

The 2016-17 season was one to build on for the Yale women's basketball team. The Bulldogs were on a roll at the end, winning four of their last five games to finish with the team's best win total (15) since 2011-12. Four of the six players who averaged 20 or more minutes per game for Yale in 2016-17 return for 2017-18.

 

ALLISON GUTH, YALE'S JOEL E. SMILOW, CLASS OF 1954 HEAD COACH OF WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

Known as a skilled recruiter throughout her 10-plus years of coaching, Allison Guth was named Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball in May of 2015, returning to the Bulldogs after serving as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator from 2010 to 2012. Guth is the 10th head coach in the history of the women's basketball program, which dates to the 1973-74 season.

The team has made steady progress under Guth, whose staff includes assistants Melissa D'Amico, Roman Owen and Jacinda Dunbar -- all also in their third season with Yale. The Bulldogs have improved their win total from season to season in each of the past two years. Last season they finished with their best win total (15) since 2011-12.

Prior to being named Yale's head coach, Guth spent three seasons at Northwestern as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, helping turn the women's basketball team into a national power. In her final season the Wildcats went 23-9 (12-6 Big Ten) and qualified for an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time since 1997.

During her first stint in New Haven, Guth was instrumental in Yale's resurgence as a contender for the Ivy League championship and helped guide the Bulldogs to their best two-year record in 18 years and the most Ivy League wins in a two-year span (18; 10-4 in 2010-11, 8-6 in 2011-12) in the program's history. Guth previously served as an assistant coach at DePaul, Missouri and Loyola-Chicago.

Guth, who led Buffalo Grove (Illinois) High School to the 2000 Class AA State title, and her high school teammates were inducted into the Illinois Coaches Basketball Association Hall of Fame in April of 2013.

A three-time letter winner at Illinois, Guth helped the Illini reach the 2003 NCAA Tournament after earning a spot as a walk-on and then earning a scholarship. An Academic All-Big Ten selection, Guth also played a season with the Illinois women's golf team before graduating in 2004. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business before getting her Master's degree in educational leadership from DePaul in 2010.

 

SCOUTING KANSAS

Kansas (2-0, 0-0 Big 12) has won its first two games by an average of 27 points, beating Campbell 66-48 and Texas Southern 72-37.

The Jayhawks feature eight players 6-foot or taller. Guard Kylee Kopatich leads the team in scoring (20.0 points per game) and is one of three players averaging a team-best 5.5 rebounds per game. She sports a .560 field goal percentage.

The Bulldogs and the Jayhawks last met on Dec. 29, 2013, a 79-63 Jayhawks win at Allen Fieldhouse. The game was a homecoming for Janna Graf '14 of Mission Woods, Kan.  She scored 14 points -- including the 1,000th of her career.

Kansas is celebrating its 50th season of women's basketball. The win vs. Campbell was the 800th in school history. The Jayhawks are 418-186 (.692) all-time at Phog Allen Fieldhouse.

 

SCOUTING TCU

TCU (2-0, 0-0 Big 12), which hosts Texas State on Saturday, has opened with wins vs. Oral Roberts (72-58) and SMU (64-58). The Horned Frogs have blocked 21 shots in their first two games, led by nine from six-foot-three center Jordan Moore. Moore leads the team in rebounding (7.0 per game) and is averaging 17.5 points per game, second only to guard Amber Ramirez (21.0). Ramirez is shooting .500 from three-point range (8-for-16).

The Horned Frogs have just two seniors on their roster as they begin their fourth season with Raegan Pebley as head coach. The sophomore class (seven) is the largest on the roster.

TCU has 14 postseason appearances in the last 17 years. Yale last played at TCU on Nov. 24, 2000, falling 79-56.

 

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

 

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