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Preseason WNIT Starts with Visit to Northern Illinois

Yale prepares for a Preseason WNIT game at Northern Illinois. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Yale prepares for a Preseason WNIT game at Northern Illinois. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Yale-Northern Illinois Thursday 6:00 P.M. Central (7:00 P.M. Eastern)

DeKALB, Ill. – The Yale women's basketball team will make some more history Thursday night, appearing in the Preseason WNIT for the first time in school history. The Bulldogs play at Northern Illinois (6:00 p.m. Central, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, ESPN+, NIU All-Access Audio) in the first round. The winner advances to face the winner of Friday's Iowa State-Niagara game.

Offense Clicks for 80-61 Win in Opener

The Yale offense -- and junior guard Roxy Barahman (Calabasas, Calif.) in particular -- showed no signs of rust Tuesday night in the season opener at Lee Amphitheater. The Bulldogs poured in 80 points, their best point total in nearly a year, en route to an 80-61 win vs. Colgate. Barahman's career-high 25 points led all scorers -- and she also added seven rebounds and tied for the team lead in assists with four. The Bulldogs as a team had 17 assists.

Preseason WNIT Format

The Preseason WNIT features a three-game guarantee format, and all games are hosted by participating schools at their home facility.

  • Winners of the first-round games advance to the second round. If the Bulldogs win at Northern Illinois Thursday, on Sunday they will play the winner of Friday's Iowa State-Niagara game.
  • Winners of the second-round games advance to the semifinals, which take place on either Nov. 13, 14 or 15. The Preseason WNIT Championship is Nov. 18.
  • Losers of the first-round games will be re-grouped into "consolation bracket quads", two four-team pools. Those teams will play two games each Nov. 16-17.
  • Losers of the second-round games will be placed in another consolation round pool and will play one more game on Nov. 16 or 17.

The full Preseason WNIT field:

  • Auburn (SEC)
  • Delaware (Colonial)
  • Hartford (America East)
  • Iowa State (Big 12)
  • Marquette (Big East)
  • Miami (ACC)
  • Montana State (Big Sky)
  • Morgan State (Mid-Eastern)
  • New Mexico (Mountain West)
  • Niagara (Metro Atlantic)
  • Nicholls State (Southland)
  • Northern Illinois (Mid-American)
  • Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley)
  • Stephen F. Austin (Southland)
  • Texas State (Sun Belt)
  • Yale (Ivy)

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Illinois Bulldogs

For a pair of Bulldogs, the trip to Illinois is a homecoming. First-year guard Roxanne Nesbitt (Chicago, Ill.) is from Chicago and graduated from University of Chicago Laboratory School. She was a three-time captain there, leading the team to the regional championship for the second time in school history in 2016-17. Allison Guth, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball, is from a Chicago suburb. She and her Buffalo Grove High School teammates were inducted into the Illinois Coaches Basketball Association Hall of Fame in April of 2013 for their Class AA state girls basketball championship in 2000. Guth also earned three letters playing collegiately for Illinois.

Bulldogs Coming Off Historic Season

Yale is coming off a historic season, as the Bulldogs set the school record for wins (19), became the first Ivy League team to win a national postseason championship (the Women's Basketball Invitational) and qualified for the Ivy League Tournament. The Bulldogs started the season strong -- going 7-3 in their first 10 games -- and ended the season with four straight wins to take the WBI title. That was one of two four-game win streaks, the longest streaks of the season.

Yale on the Offensive

Yale averaged 67.2 points per game last season, a 10 percent improvement over the previous season's average (61.1 points per game).

The 82 points the Bulldogs scored in the wins vs. Colgate and TCU last year represent the most they have scored in Allison Guth's three seasons as Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball.

Captain Nelson

Senior guard Gabby Nelson (Hurst, Texas) has been elected captain for the 2018-19 season by her teammates.

Nelson earned the captaincy by spending the past three seasons contributing in a wide variety of ways. She has played in 34 career games, including 17 last season. She was third on the team in three-point shooting, connecting on 32 percent of her shots.

A leader among Yale's reserves, Nelson played a critical role in one of the turning points of the 2017-18 campaign. She earned her first career start in the Bulldogs' 82-72 upset at TCU -- less than 15 miles from her home -- on Nov. 21. The Horned Frogs were ranked in the top 25 at one point last year, and the victory was part of a 7-3 start to the season for the Bulldogs.

Nelson is an economics major in Ezra Stiles college at Yale. She spent the summer of 2018 in New Haven, working for Yale women's basketball alum and 2010-11 captain Yosepha Greenfield '11. Nelson was a marketing and business development intern at the educational consulting company that Greenfield co-founded, InGenius Prep.

Barahman Honorable Mention All-Ivy

Junior guard Roxy Barahman (Calabasas, Calif.) earned honorable mention All-Ivy League honors after emerging as an impact player last season. She led the Bulldogs in assists per game (4.1) and was third in points per game (13.5) and rebounds per game (4.5).

Barahman reached a career high in assists with nine in the 73-50 win at Columbia Feb. 9. She set a career high with 12 rebounds in the WBI semifinal win vs. South Alabama Mar. 24. She scored a season-high 24 points at Binghamton Dec. 2. That was one of three times that season she reached the 20-point mark.

Barahman is in Davenport College at Yale and is a graduate of Oaks Christian. She is Yale's lone returning Ivy honoree, as first team All-Ivy League selection Jen Berkowitz '18 and Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year Tamara Simpson '18 both graduated.

Home Court Advantage

Yale has developed quite a home court advantage in recent years. Since the start of the 2014-15 season the Bulldogs have gone 34-18 (.654) at John J. Lee Amphitheater. Here is a look at the team's home record in the past six seasons:

2012-13: 6-7 (.462)
2013-14: 7-6 (.538)
2014-15: 8-4 (.667)
2015-16: 10-5 (.667)
2016-17: 7-4 (.636)
2017-18: 8-5 (.615)
2018-19: 1-0 (1.000)

Yale's Best

Yale set the school record for wins in a season (19) last year. Combined with the 15 wins from the 2016-17 season, that was the first time in school history Yale has won 15 or more games in back-to-back seasons. The Bulldogs' first varsity season was 1973-74.

Here are Yale's top eight seasons in terms of overall wins:

19 wins: 2017-18
17 wins: 1979-80
16 wins: 1993-94, 2011-12
15 wins: 1976-77, 1988-89, 1992-93, 2016-17

Yale's eight Ivy League wins last season were the most since 2012-13, when the Bulldogs went 8-6 in the league. The team record for league wins is 10. Here are Yale's seasons with eight or more Ivy wins:

10 Ivy wins: 1988-89, 2010-11
9 Ivy wins: 1986-87
8 Ivy wins: 1992-93, 1993-94, 1995-96, 1997-98, 2009-10, 2011-12, 2012-13, 2017-18

Ivy Women in National Postseason Tournaments

Yale's performance in the WBI last year ranks as the best performance by an Ivy League women's basketball team in any of the current national postseason tournaments. The Bulldogs were the first Ivy team to advance past the second round in any of those tournaments. Here are the best records by Ivy League teams in each of them:

TOURNAMENT (W-L, Team, Year)
Women's Basketball Invitational:
4-0, Yale, 2018
NCAA Tournament: 1-1, Two times
Postseason WNIT:
1-1, Seven times

Allison Guth, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball

Known as a skilled recruiter throughout her 10-plus years of coaching, Allison Guth was named Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball in May of 2015, returning to the Bulldogs after serving as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator from 2010 to 2012. Guth is the 10th head coach in the history of the women's basketball program, which dates to the 1973-74 season.

The team has made steady progress under Guth. The Bulldogs have improved their win total from season to season in each of the past three years and set the school record for wins with 19 last season. Yale won the WBI Championship -- becoming the first Ivy League women's basketball team to win a national postseason tournament -- and qualified for the Ivy League Tournament.

Prior to being named Yale's head coach, Guth spent three seasons at Northwestern as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, helping turn the women's basketball team into a national power. In her final season, the Wildcats went 23-9 (12-6 Big Ten) and qualified for an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time since 1997.

During her first stint in New Haven, Guth was instrumental in Yale's resurgence as a contender for the Ivy League championship and helped guide the Bulldogs to their best two-year record in 18 years and the most Ivy League wins in a two-year span (18; 10-4 in 2010-11, 8-6 in 2011-12) in the program's history. Guth previously served as an assistant coach at DePaul, Missouri and Loyola-Chicago.

Guth, who led Buffalo Grove (Illinois) High School to the 2000 Class AA State title, and her high school teammates were inducted into the Illinois Coaches Basketball Association Hall of Fame in April of 2013.

A three-time letter winner at Illinois, Guth helped the Illini reach the 2003 NCAA Tournament after earning a spot as a walk-on and then earning a scholarship. An Academic All-Big Ten selection, Guth also played a season with the Illinois women's golf team before graduating in 2004. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business before getting her Master's degree in educational leadership from DePaul in 2010.

Scouting Northern Illinois

Northern Illinois (0-0, 0-0 MAC) is coming off a 15-15 season (7-11 in the Mid-American Conference). NIU had one of the top offenses in the conference last year, finishing fourth in scoring at 77.5 points per game, third in field goal percentage at 43.5 percent and second in both free throw percentage at 77 percent and three-point field goal percentage at 43.5 percent.





Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity