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Yale Pushes Brown to OT Before Falling 81-71

Jen Berkowitz. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Jen Berkowitz. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Yale women's basketball team once again went toe-to-toe with the top offense in the Ivy League Friday night at the Pizzitola Sports Center, pushing Brown to overtime with a late rally before falling 81-71. The Bulldogs trailed by 15 points with 4:41 to play in regulation, but managed to outscore the Bears 19-4 down the stretch to force extra time. That run included eight points from senior guard Tamara Simpson, who finished with 11. Senior forward Jen Berkowitz led Yale with 21 points and 11 rebounds.

The loss leaves the two teams with a split of their league season-opening series, as Yale had taken the opener 77-63 last Friday at Lee Amphitheater.

"I saw a little spark from us when we were able to knock down a couple shots late in the game," said Allison Guth, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "It's unfortunate it took us a while to wake up"

A cold start -- 2-for-7 -- left Yale in an early 7-4 hole, but the Bulldogs eventually rallied to tie the game 9-9 when Berkowitz banked in a three-pointer halfway through the first quarter. Brown (13-2, 1-1 Ivy League) ended the quarter with a 7-2 run, though, taking a 16-11 lead into the second.

Both teams struggled from the field in the second quarter, shooting a combined 10-for-34. Brown held the lead throughout, growing it to as much as seven before a jumper by sophomore forward Megan Gorman and a three-pointer by senior guard Mary Ann Santucci got Yale within two. A layup by guard Shayna Mehta in the final minute sent Brown into the half up 29-25.

The Bulldogs heated up in the third quarter, hitting seven of 15 shots (47 percent). But the Bears shot even better, 9-for-17 (53 percent), and began opening up their lead. A three-pointer by forward Kathleen Ryan with less than two minutes left made the score 47-37, the first double-digit lead of the game. Brown went into the fourth up 51-41.

Brown kept that momentum into the fourth, building a 15-point lead on a layup by guard Justine Gaziano with 4:35 to play that prompted a Yale timeout. Two three-pointers in 22 seconds by Simpson helped the Bulldogs start to rally, and they got within eight when first year forward Ellen Margaret Andrews hit a free throw to complete a three-point play at 3:26. Then a span of 17 seconds shifted momentum squarely in Yale's favor, as Berkowitz hit a layup, Simpson rebounded a missed Brown three and Andrews drained a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 64-61 with 2:37 to play.

After first year guard Tori Andrew hit a three and Simpson came up with one of her six steals, the Bulldogs had a chance to take the lead -- but turned the ball over, resulting in a Brown layup. A charging call against Berkowitz then gave Brown the ball back with 1:03 left. The Bears missed a three-point shot, and Berkowitz pounced on the loose ball underneath the rim with 32.9 seconds left to give the Bulldogs a chance to tie. Simpson, fouled while driving to the hoop, calmly hit two free throws with 22.7 left to knot the game 66-66.

Brown still had one last possession in regulation, and the Bears ran the clock down before attempting to drive -- but Simpson knocked the ball loose to momentarily disrupt the offense, and Andrews blocked a shot just before time expired.

The Yale comeback could not be completed in overtime, however. The Bears took a quick lead on a layup by guard Dominique Leonidas, and after three missed shots by the Bulldogs Brown reeled off six more points to take a commanding 74-66 lead with 1:17 left. Berkowitz stopped the run with a layup off a Simpson assist, but Brown finished the game with a 7-3 run for the 81-71 final -- right at its season average in points per game.

Gaziano led Brown with 20 points. Andrews finished with eight points and eight rebounds for the Bulldogs.

"Early in the Ivy season one of the most important things is to find a way to win on the road against a quality opponent," said Guth. "We didn't do that tonight. But give credit to our kids, when I challenged them going into the fourth quarter they responded."

Yale (8-7, 1-1 Ivy League) travels to Harvard next Friday night.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity