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Hot-Shooting Hartford Tops Yale 78-70 at Fordham Holiday Classic

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

NEW YORK, N.Y. – The Yale women's basketball team knew going into the 11th annual Fordham Holiday Classic that the competition would be tough -- the three other teams had combined for a 23-10 (.697) record. And after coming up short against a hot-shooting UC Davis team in Thursday's opener, things got no easier for the Bulldogs on Friday. Hartford shot a blistering 50 percent from the field -- the second-best shooting percentage the Bulldogs have allowed this year -- en route to beating Yale 78-70 in the consolation game on Friday. With the loss, Yale concludes the non-league portion of the regular season on a down note.

The Bulldogs had fallen behind by seven within the first eight minutes of Thursday's 81-71 loss to UC Davis, and a tough start proved costly again on Friday. Hartford (8-5, 0-0 America East) jumped out to a 21-11 lead by the 1:30 mark of the first.

Yale (7-6, 0-0 Ivy League) was able to rally all the way back from that early deficit, though, as a three-pointer by senior guard Tamara Simpson sparked a 12-2 run that tied the score. The last two points in that run came on a steal and layup by first-year forward Ellen Margaret Andrews -- part of a 16-point, four-steal day for her. That was a career high in points for the talented rookie.

After Hartford momentarily re-took the lead, junior guard Gabby Nelson drained a three-pointer from deep that put the Bulldogs ahead 26-25. That was part of a trio of treys in a span of 4:33 for her, and she would finish the game with 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting from behind the arc.

"Any time we face a team that's going to zone us, we've got to put some three-point shooters on the floor," said Allison Guth, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "That was what we were able to do with Gabby."

Yale eventually built up a four-point lead later in the quarter on a layup by first-year forward Alex Cade, but Hartford stormed back with a 7-2 run to claim a 36-35 lead at halftime.

The game turned into a see-saw battle in the third quarter, which included five ties. Neither team led by more than four points, and Hartford came out with a 57-56 lead thanks to a pair of late free throws by forward/center Brielle Wilborn.

Hartford then took control of the game with an 11-3 run to start the final quarter. The Bulldogs hurt themselves with four turnovers and three missed three-pointers in that span. Sophomore guard Roxy Barahman eventually hit a three to bring the Hawks' run to an end, but the damage was done. A Nelson three pulled Yale within four with 47 seconds to play, but Hartford hit four free throws in the final 37 seconds to seal the win.

Berkowitz finished with 21 points and five rebounds, while sophomore forward Megan Gorman added a team-best seven rebounds in just 17 minutes.

Later in the day, Fordham beat UC Davis 70-62 to claim the tournament title.

While the Bulldogs did not come away with any wins during their time in the Bronx, they did pack plenty of experience against tough competition into a two-day span.

"Fordham did a great job hosting this and bringing in some quality opponents," said Guth. "We can step away from this getting better for having played teams like UC Davis and Hartford. We've got to regroup programmatically, stick with what we're doing well but home in on the details."

Yale has two weeks until it plays again, hosting Brown in the Ivy League opener on Friday, Jan. 12 at Noon. In addition to being on the Ivy League Network, the game will be televised on the Eleven Sports Network.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity