With three weeks left in the regular season, we’d like to update the readers on the women’s basketball results.
Penn (14-6, 7-0 1st Place)
The defending Ivy champs have rebounded from a surprising 7-6 nonconference record to go undefeated through its first run through the league. In league play, the Quakers are first in field-goal percentage (46 percent), three-pointers made (7.0), field-goal percentage allowed (36%), points allowed (51.7), point differential (+15.4), rebounds allowed (30.3), rebounding margin (+8.7), defensive rebounding % (75.1%), assists (15.1), and assists/turnovers (1.3). They are second or third in the league in points (67.1), three-point field-goal percentage (37%), blocks (5.3), and offensive rebounding (5.1%).
In conference play, the Quakers have been led by junior guard Anna Ross, an honorable mention All-Ivy player last year, who is averaging 13.3 points (10th in league), 3.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists (t-3rd) a game. Senior forward center Sydney Stipanovich, last year’s Ivy POY and Defensive POY, is averaging 11.3 points and 7.1 (9th) rebounds a game. Junior forward Michelle Nwokedi, a 1st time All-Ivy last year, is at 11.1 points and 9.3 boards (3rd) a game. Last week’s Ivy Player of the Week, sophomore forward Princess Aghayere, comes off the bench to get 9.0 points and 4.7 rebounds in 16 minutes a game.
With a 1.5 game lead over 2nd place Harvard and a 4.5 game lead over 5th place Cornell, Penn seems to have a great chance of making it into the post-season tournament and the first overall seed, as well as an undefeated Ivy campaign.
Harvard (18-3, 6-2, 2nd Place)
After an opening game loss to Minnesota, the Crimson won 16 games in a row in route to a 12-1 non-conference record. The team has built upon its out-of-league success by going 6-2 in the first few weeks of league play. Despite a 20 point loss to league-leading Penn, Harvard lost a close 5 point overtime decision to perennial power Princeton at Jadwin Gym.
The youthful squad, which only has 3 seniors and 2 juniors on its 14 person roster, is controlling Ivy opponents on the defensive side. Harvard is second in the conference in opponent points (61.8) and field-goal percentage (37%), while topping the league in defensive three points % (27%).
The Crimson are led by first-year guard Katie Benzan, who averages 14.4 points (7th in league), 4.4 assists (1st) and 2.8 threes (2nd) a game. She is also leading the Ivies in free throw % with 96.2%. Sophomore guard Madeline Raster is getting 14.1 points on 50% shooting, while averaging 5.5 boards a game. Two forwards, senior Destiny Nunley and first-year Jeannie Boehm (sister of Dartmouth’s 1,000+ point scorer Connor Boehm) are tied for 5th in the league with 7.9 boards a game.
Harvard will get a chance for revenge at home against the Tigers and Quakers on the last weekend of the regular season, before taking on one or both teams the following weekend in Philly.
Princeton (11-9, 5-2 3rd Place)
After graduating 4 starters from last year’s NCAA tournament team, the Tigers have rebounded from an 0-2 conference start to claim 5 wins in a row. In conference, Princeton’s success is coming from both sides of the ball. On offense, the team is 1st in points (69.6), 2nd in point differential (+ 6.6), 2nd in field-goal percentage (43%), and 2nd in three-point field-goal percentage (40%). On the defensive side, the Tigers are the leaders in rebounding (42.6) and offensive rebounding % (35.4%), while giving up the second fewest boards to its opponents (32.5). The Tigers are also tops in blocks (5.9) and 2nd in steals (7.9).
Junior forward Leslie Robinson (daughter of Princeton’s 2 time POY Craig Robinson) is leading the way with 12.9 points, 3.1 assists and a league-leading 11.1 rebounds a game. First-year guard Bella Alaire is 5th in the conference with 15.0 points per game, in addition to 6.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists and a conference-best 3.1 blocks. Fellow first-year guard Gabrielle Rush is averaging 12.0 points and 2.4 assists per game, while having the league’s second best three point shooting% (43.2%).
The Tigers have shaken off the rough start to conference play and seem to be a lock to be one of the four participants in the post-season tournament.
Brown (14-7, 5-3, 4th Place)
Like the men’s team, the Bears score and allow a large number of points. In league play, the team is 2nd in points scored (68.8) and 7th in points allowed (72.2). They are another team with a big-time first-year player. Guard Justine Gaziano is averaging 18.9 points (2nd in Ivies) on 48% shooting (8th). Sophomore guard Shayna Mehta, last year’s ROY, is getting 12.6 points (12th), 5.6 rebounds (16th) and 2.1 steals (2nd). Sophomore forward Erika Steeves (sister of former Harvard, and current GW, player Patrick Steeves) is 7th in the conference with 7.8 total rebounds and 2nd with 7.0 defensive boards a game.
The Bears, picked 7th in the league’s preseason poll, have had a really positive rebound from last year’s 3-11 conference mark. Third-year coach Sarah Behn has shown steady improvement going from 10 wins (4 Ivy) in her first season, 15 wins (3 Ivy) last year to 14 wins (5 Ivy) with 6 games left. With three of its next four against the Top 3 teams in the league and a road finale against Cornell, Brown will need to play its best to claim the fourth spot at the Palestra on March 11th.
Cornell (12-9, 3-5, 5th Place)
The Red, one of the few senior-dominated teams in the league, have struggled over the last three weekends. After starting the conference with a sweep of Columbia, Cornell has lost 5 of its last six. The most frustrating thing is that the Red have been close in all of those games, losing by an average of 5.6 points a game.
Cornell is in the middle of the pack offensively, but is leading the league with a 42% rate from beyond the arc. Unfortunately, that high percentage has only translated to a 6th best amount of made threes a game (6.3). The Red are struggling on shot defense (41% overall – 8th in the league and 37% from three – 7th). They are last in rebounding (34.1) and defensive rebounding % (64.7%).
Senior forward Nia Marshall, a second team All-Ivy last year, is averaging 16.6 points (3rd in league) and 6.1 (13th) rebounds a game. Senior guard Megan LeDuc is averaging 15.6 points (4th), 2.6 assists (9th), 2.9 made threes (1st), while shooting 47% overall (1st) and 50% from three (1st). Senior guard Kerr Moran is second in the conference with 4.0 assists per game, third in three point shooting % (43%) and fourth in FT% (86%). Another senior, forward Nicholle Aston, is scoring 8.4 points a game on 51% shooting (4th), while hauling in 5.1 boards a game.
With three weekends to go, the Big Red are on the outside looking in to the post-season tournament. Cornell will try to take advantage of its senior leadership to close the two-game gap with the Bears by time the two squads meet in a showdown in Ithaca on the last day of the regular season.
Columbia (12-9, 2-6, T-6th Place)
Under first-year coach Megan Griffith, the Lions had their best nonconference record in program history. In addition to the 10-3 start, Columbia had a seven game winning streak. Unfortunately, the Lions have not been able to duplicate that success in league play, going 2-6 in the first round of the schedule. The highlight of league play was the team’s 91-88 victory in an epic 4-OT thriller at Dartmouth in January.
The Lions have struggled with its shooting percentage, at 38% (8th) in conference play. While the team has a +9.9 rebounding margin through the entire season, they are only +2.6 in the Ivies. Turnovers have also been a concern for Columbia as they have committed 14.6 a game and only forced 11.6, for a league lowest -3.0 differential.
Columbia is led by junior guard Camille Zimmerman, a second-team All-Ivy last year, who is the league’s leading scorer averaging 25.0 points (1st), 9.9 rebounds (2nd), 7.5 defensive rebounds (1st) in 40.4 minutes (1st) a game. Sophomore guard Paulina Koerner is averaging 9.1 points and 2.8 assists a contest in league play. Senior forward Devon Roeper is averaging 8.3 points on 53% shooting, while adding 7.1 (4.1 offensive) boards a game. Senior forward Tori Oliver, one of Columbia’s top 5 scorers in school history, has aveaged 7.9 points, 3.0 assists and 7.5 rebounds a game in league play.
The Lions were picked 8th in the league’s pre-season poll. Despite the struggles in conference play, the team’s positive early season results point to a program that is getting better, but still has a ways to go in a strong Ivy conference. With Griffith, a former standout Lion player and Princeton assistant coach, in charge, and a dynamic scorer in Zimmerman returning for her senior season, Columbia appears pointed in the right direction for next season.
Yale (11-10, 2-6 T-6th Place)
Even with playing 9 of its first 13 games on the road, the Bulldogs were able to have a 9-4 non-conference record, including a six-game winning streak. In Ivy play, problems on offense and defense have plagued Yale. The squad is shooting 38% overall, 29% from three and 64% from the charity stripe. Defensively, its opponents are shooting 43% overall and 39% from beyond the arc. The biggest positive is their defensive pressure, which has resulted in the largest forced turnovers *(16.5) and steals (8.3) in the conference.
The Bulldogs are led by senior guard Lena Munzer, who is averaging 14.9 points, 7.1 rebounds (5.8 defensive), 2.5 assists, 2.3 three-pointers and 1.5 steals per contest. Junior forward Jen Berkowitz is getting 14.3 points and 6.9 rebounds (3.3 offensive) a game. Junior guard Tamara Simpson, the program’s all-time leader in steals, is averaging 3.5 takeaways in addition to 11.1 points a game.
Yale, which was 14-17 and 5-9 last season, has shown some growth in the second season for coach Allison Guth. Like Columbia, the positives have come more in non-conference play. The Bulldogs look to use the last few weekends of the season to build towards year three of the coach’s tenure.
Dartmouth (6-15, 1-7, 8th Place)
The 2016-17 season has been a major disappointment for the Big Green. Picked 5th in the pre-season poll, Dartmouth struggled with a 5-8 out of conference record, making them the only Ivy team to go under .500 in the early season. The team’s slow start and lack of a strong point guard has been the biggest problems this year.
In conference play, sophomore forward Isalys Quinones has been a bright spot, averaging 12.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.9 steals a game. Junior guard Kate Letkewicz, an honorable mention All-Ivy player last year, is averaging 11.1 points and 6.0 rebounds a game in league play. Senior guard Fannie Szabo is the team’s leading conference scorer with 12.3 points a game.
With 4 of its last 6 games at home, the Big Green will be looking to move out of the basement over the last three weekends of the regular season. In coach Bella Kochlanes’ first three years in Hanover, the Green had shown steady improvement 2, 5 and 7 league games. With this year’s record, Dartmouth fans have to hope is this year is an aberration.