BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – The challenge was a big one for the Yale women's basketball team on Saturday afternoon at Binghamton's Events Center: beat a tough opponent -- one that had already beaten the defending Ivy League champions, Penn -- on the road. And that challenge grew as the game went into overtime. Already down one starter, then Bulldogs had another starter foul out two minutes into the extra session. But with contributions from a wide variety of sources -- including a career high in points from sophomore guard Roxy Barahman (24), and season highs in points from sophomore forward Megan Gorman (13) and senior guard Mary Ann Santucci (12) -- Yale found a way to win. The Bulldogs gutted out a 73-69 victory.
Coming off a frustrating 55-51 loss at home to Providence in which a lead had slipped away late in the game, Yale (4-3, 0-0 Ivy League) was eager to turn the page and use Saturday's game as a springboard for some positive momentum.
"I'm really happy with the way we responded," said Allison Guth, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "It started in practice the day after our loss to Providence. We challenged our players to dig a little deeper in terms of our focus, and finishing ballgames."
The Bulldogs jumped out to an 8-2 lead thanks to a Santucci three at 5:20 of the first, but Binghamton (4-4, 0-0 America East) eventually rallied to tie the game at 13.
That set up a back-and-forth second quarter in which the Bulldogs fell behind by three -- their largest deficit of the game -- before going on a 14-3 run that included eight points from Barahman and six from first-year forward Ellen Margaret Andrews. Yale led 35-30 heading into halftime, thanks in large part to 16 points from Barahman.
"Talk about a gamer," said Guth of Barahman. "She's someone who was creating with her shot, and also came up big defensively, providing us with a spark."
Binghamton made up that deficit in the third, however, tying the game at three different points -- the last on a jumper by guard Imani Watkins just before time ran out. Watkins would finish with 23 points.
The fourth quarter turned into a defensive battle, and Yale spent a good chunk of the quarter without its top rebounder and second-leading scorer. Within the first minute, senior forward Jen Berkowitz was called for her fourth personal foul and headed to the bench. She would not return until 4:55 remained, with the Bulldogs clinging to a 57-55 lead.
Binghamton endured an 0-for-4 stretch that included a pair of steals by Andrews midway through the quarter, but the Bearcats rallied from six down to tie the game on a wild driving layup by Watkins with 12 seconds left. The teams headed into overtime with the score 63-63.
Binghamton won the tipoff in overtime, but Berkowitz forced center Alyssa James into a tough shot and Andrews rebounded that miss. Barahman then drew a foul and sank two free throws, part of a day in which the Bulldogs went 13-for-16 from the line while Binghamton was just 7-for-17.
"It makes such a difference," Guth said of the free throw advantage; Yale had been 4-for-10 in the loss to Providence. "We've been really focused on it in practice, but in the last couple practices we stopped talking about it. That may have been what worked."
Barahman then followed up a steal by draining a three, giving the Bulldogs a 68-63 lead. But with 2:54 left Berkowitz was called for her fifth foul, ending her day. Junior forward Alexandra Maund came in to take on the tough task of containing James, who was in the midst of a 23-point game that also included 13 rebounds and six blocks.
"We prepare our players to be confident at all points," said Guth. "I didn't see us even get fazed when Jen fouled out. I looked in Alexandra Maund's eyes and said 'We're going to win this game; we need you out there getting defensive stops.'"
Binghamton closed to within two on a layup by Watkins with 2:26 remaining, and would have had a chance to tie the game -- but Santucci swooped in to grab the rebound of a missed three by Barahman, and a Bearcat foul sent Andrews to the line. The rookie calmly sank both free throws, giving the Bulldogs a two-possession lead.
Watkins made things interesting by hitting a three with 90 seconds left. But after she missed a jumper 45 seconds later that could have given Binghamton the lead, Gorman came down with the rebound. Then, after Santucci went to the line and hit the first free throw but missed the second, Gorman came away with another critical board. It was her eighth of the game.
After a Yale turnover with 36 seconds left, Binghamton missed a layup that could have tied the game and Maund grabbed the rebound. Gorman put the game out of reach by hitting a pair of free throws. That got her to 13 points, pushing well past her previous season high (eight).
"Gorman has the capability of giving us that type of effort both defensively and on the boards," said Guth. "It was nice to get her in the flow offensively. She's a really unselfish player."
In addition to having Berkowitz limited by foul trouble, the Bulldogs played the entire game without senior guard Tamara Simpson -- the team leader in scoring, assists and steals -- who was unavailable due to a family commitment. That was part of the reason why Barahman and Santucci both played 43 minutes.
"Tucci had a great game," said Guth. "She had some really key buckets. She knew the minute we lost [first year guard] Tori [Andrew, who was injured last month], that she would need to help provide some more scoring."
Yale continues its stretch of four straight road games this Wednesday, traveling to Stony Brook.
"All in all, we grinded it out," said Guth. "It's fun to see our growth."
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity