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Offense Heats Up, Berkowitz Scores 21 for 73-50 Win at Columbia

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

NEW YORK – A big run midway through the second quarter helped the Yale women's basketball team overcome a slow start Friday night at Columbia, and the Bulldogs never looked back. After a three-pointer by first-year guard Tori Andrew at 6:14 of the second turned a 19-18 Columbia lead into a 21-19 Yale lead, Yale would build its lead up past 20 by the third quarter before finally finishing with a 73-50 win. Senior forward Jen Berkowitz led Yale with 21 points, adding five rebounds. Sophomore guard Roxy Barahman finished near a triple-double with 15 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.

The rough start for Yale (11-9, 4-3 Ivy League) included a 1-for-13 spell and a scoring drought of nearly three minutes in the first quarter -- but the Bulldogs still ended the quarter within striking distance, down 14-12. Berkowitz' six points, combined with four from Barahman, helped Yale keep pace.

As cold as they were at the start of the game, the Bulldogs heated up in the second quarter. In the midst of a 17-2 run, a layup by senior guard Tamara Simpson gave Yale an 18-17 lead. By the time that run -- which included a pair of three-pointers from senior guard Mary Ann Santucci -- was over, Yale had a 31-19 lead. The Bulldogs shot 6-for-11 in the span, which was jump-started by a layup from junior forward Alexandra Maund.  

"Going into that second quarter, I think our players were locked in defensively," said Allison Guth, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "We weren't comfortable vs. that 1-3-1, but we tweaked a few things. Berk was phenomenal on that back side, and there was a sense of calm because of our defensive intensity."

Coming out of halftime with a 33-26 lead, the Bulldogs went back to work. Three-pointers by Simpson and first-year forward Ellen Margaret Andrews in a span of just over a minute helped the Bulldogs to their biggest lead of the night at the time, 16 points, at 49-33. After the media timeout they kept at it, as free throws by Barahman, sophomore forward Bronwyn Davies and Berkowitz pushed the lead to 21 before Columbia finally scored to snap a drought of nearly four minutes. Yale went into the final quarter up 54-39.

Columbia (7-15, 1-6 Ivy League) cut its deficit to 13 with 7:07 to play, but Berkowitz responded immediately with a layup despite a double-team. Up by 20 with 2:30 to play, the Bulldogs began bringing their starters to the bench. Maund, first-year guard Ale Aguirre, first-year forward Alex Cade, sophomore guard Aerial Chavarin and junior guard/forward Gabby Nelson closed out the win.

The way the Bulldogs closed out the game -- highlighted by a driving layup from Aguirre, her first career basket, that drew loud cheers from her teammates -- did not go unnoticed.

"We talk a lot in our program about constantly being ready for when your name is called," said Guth. "You could go top to bottom tonight and our kids were ready. These are selfless teammates who give it their all to help us prepare in practice. When they get the chance to get out there and come through like that, and their teammates react the way they did, it's a huge testament to the character of our team."

In addition to the impressive offensive numbers, Guth also saw plenty of bright spots on defense. Barahman played a huge role in limiting guard Riley Casey to just one three-point attempt (which she missed), and multiple Bulldogs helped keep guard Camille Zimmerman -- the Ivy League's leading scorer -- to just 10 points.

"Camille Zimmerman is one of the most elite scorers in the league," said Guth. "We were locked in to that game plan. I've got to give credit to Bronwyn Davies for coming off the bench with that defensive intensity. And it started with Ellen Margaret. Roxy came close to a triple-double with her points, rebounds and the way she shared the basketball, but what made Roxy special tonight is she communicated as a defensive leader. Riley Casey is one of the best three-point shooters in the league, and she held her to one attempt. Captain Tucci was all over the floor tonight defensively in addition to hitting a couple big threes, and Alexandra Maund came in off the bench and gave us some very good defensive minutes."

Friday's game will be televised via tape delay on SportsNet New York on Saturday at 5:00 p.m.

Yale plays at Cornell Saturday at 5:00 p.m.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity