NEW HAVEN, Conn. – After a record-breaking season that culminated with winning the Women's Basketball Invitational tournament, the Yale women's basketball team gathered to celebrate and announce the team award winners last Friday night in the Kiphuth Trophy Room in Payne Whitney Gym. Sophomore guard Roxy Barahman (Calabasas, Calif.) won the Most Improved Player Award, senior forward Jen Berkowitz (Wayland, Mass.) won the Karen Yarasavage Bulldog Award and senior guard Mary Ann Santucci (Seattle, Wash.) won the Outstanding Leadership Award. The Bulldogs also recognized Berkowitz and senior guard Tamara Simpson (North Babylon, N.Y.) for joining the 1,000 point club.
En route to earning the Most Improved Player Award, Barahman was also an honorable mention All-Ivy League selection after emerging as an impact player. She was limited to 17 games (one start) last season but was back at full strength this year. She led the team in assists (4.1 per game, fourth in the Ivy League), was second in steals (2.0 per game, fourth in the Ivy League) and was third in rebounds (4.5 per game).
Barahman is in Davenport College at Yale and is a graduate of Oaks Christian.
Earning the Karen Yarasavage Bulldog Award caps a memorable season and career for Berkowitz. Last month she was named first team All-Ivy League, becoming the first Yale player to earn first-team honors since Sarah Halejian '15 in 2014. On Mar. 3 at Princeton, she added her name to the Yale record book when her layup at 5:15 of the first quarter gave her 1,000 points for her career. She is the 21st Yale player to accomplish that feat.
This was the best season of Berkowitz' career in many ways. She led the team in scoring (14.3 points per game, fifth in the Ivy League) and rebounding (7.0 rebounds per game, ninth in the Ivy League). She also had the league's best field goal percentage (.546) and established career highs in all three of those categories.
Berkowitz is a pre-med history of science, medicine and public health major in Saybrook College. Earlier this month she earned Academic All-Ivy League honors.
Santucci captained the Bulldogs to a record-breaking season, earning the Outstanding Leadership Award in the process. She finished her career having missed just one game in four years, and she had 52 starts. One of the team's top ballhandlers and perimeter defenders, she averaged 1.6 assists per game this season (third on the team) and was one of five players to average 22 or more minutes per game.
Santucci is a pre-med ecology and evolutionary biology major in Morse College. She graduated from Seattle Prep.
After joining the 1,000 point club with a layup in the first quarter against Indiana at Lee Amphitheater on Dec. 21, Simpson finished her career with 1,275 career points, ninth all-time at Yale. She was second on the team in scoring this season, averaging 13.7 points per game (eighth in the Ivy League) -- a 43 percent improvement over last season. She was second on the team in assists (2.4 per game). As prolific as she was offensively, Simpson also made her mark defensively. She was named Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season. She also was named second team All-Ivy League.
Simpson's defensive accomplishments were staggering. Her 130 steals this season broke her own school record by 40 and also broke the Ivy League record (125, Betsy Gilmore, Dartmouth, 1993-94). She averaged 4.2 steals per game, third nationally and 2.0 more than any other Ivy League player. Simpson, who set the Yale career record for steals last year, led the league in steals each year of her career. Her 362 career steals place her second on the Ivy League's all-time list, with Gilmore the leader at 370.
Simpson is a pre-med psychology major in Jonathan Edwards College. She graduated from Portledge School.
The seniors and award winners all played key roles in a memorable season. Yale's 54-50 win vs. Central Arkansas in the WBI championship game on Mar. 29 was the Bulldogs' 19th of the year, a school record. No other Yale team won more than 17 games in a season. Yale also won eight Ivy League games, tied for fourth on the school's all-time list. That included wins vs. rivals Harvard and Princeton.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity
Yale Women's Basketball
2017-18 Team Awards
Most Improved Player Award
Awarded to that member of the women's basketball team who, in the opinion of the coach, has shown the most improvement during the season.
Roxy Barahman (Calabasas, Calif.)
Outstanding Leadership Award
Awarded to that member of the women's basketball team, who, in the opinion of her teammates through her spirit, hustle, attitude, desire and determination, has served as an inspiration to the team.
Mary Ann Santucci (Seattle, Wash.)
Karen Yarasavage Bulldog Award
The Karen Yarasavage Award has been established to honor Karen's enduring devotion to the Yale women's basketball program. It is awarded to the team member who distinguishes herself by her grit, tenacity and perseverance.
Jen Berkowitz (Wayland, Mass.)