Ivy women’s hoops weekend update

Brown 81 vs Yale 71 (OT)

In Yale’s 77-63 win in New Haven last Friday, the Bulldogs were able to prevent the Bears from getting into its fast paced offensive flow.  At the start of this week’s return match in Providence, Brown (13-2; 1-1 Ivy) was determined not to let that happen again.  However, they ended up forcing the pace to go a bit too fast and both teams struggled over the first 20 minutes.  The Bears managed to take a four-point lead into the locker room, but they shot 36 percent overall, 40 percent from two and 27 percent from three, as well as committing 10 turnovers. Yale (8-7; 1-1 Ivy), meanwhile, shot 27 percent overall, 33 percent from two and 29 percent from three.

Brown was able to settle down to their normal pace in the second half, improve its two-point shooting (46 percent), reduce its turnovers (four) and open up a 14-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. Following a Brown layup that made it 64-50 with 4:14 left in regulation, Yale went on a 14-0 run in the next 2:14 to tie the game at 64 and force overtime. The Bears opened the extra session on an 8-0 run in the first 3:41 to create enough distance to secure their first conference win of the season.

Justine Gaziano led Brown in scoring with 20 points, as starting center Janie White (17 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, three blocks and two steals) and reserve point guard Dominique Leonidas (12 points, six rebounds, two assists and one steal) did the big and little things to keep Brown going when most of the stars were struggling.  Jen Berkowitz had 22 points and 10 rebounds for Yale, while Tamara Simpson finished with 11 points (all in second half) and six steals.

The Bears escaped with the victory and the season split with Yale, but they only shot 38 overall and 26 percent from three. Shayna Mehta, the second leading scorer in the Ivy League, had 15 points and only went 4-for-12 (2-for-7 from three).  Erika Steeves, the Ivy’s 11th best scorer, posted only three points on 1-for-12 shooting (0-for-3 from three).  In their three Division 1 contests without Taylor Will, the Bears have struggled on offense while managing two overtime wins and a loss.  With back-to-backs starting this coming weekend at Dartmouth and Harvard, the Bears are going to have to quickly find a way to to recover their early-season swagger.  Yale, meanwhile, will regret a missed opportunity to claim an all-important road victory against a top division team as it regroups ahead of road matchups versus two of its main rivals for the Ivy Tournament.

Cornell 57 at Columbia 47

The Lions (6-12; 0-3 Ivy), losers of five straight, were hoping the return to Levien Gymnasium for the first time in 40 days would bring them their first win since a 75-53 victory over Hofstra on Dec. 11. Unfortunately, Cornell (5-11; 1-2 Ivy) spoiled Columbia’s homecoming, earning its first league win and leaving the Light Blue & White winless in conference play.

In a sloppy first half that saw 23 turnovers between the two team, the Big Red held a five-point lead on the strength of Samantha Widmann’s 13 points and Samantha Clement’s 10.  The two Sams shot 10-for-15, while the rest of the Big Red hit only three of 16 shots.  Despite Columbia’s 28 percent first half shooting, Camille Zimmerman kept them close with 11 points.  Cornell opened up a 13-point lead midway through the third quarter, but the Lions could only get as close as seven at the end of the that frame.  While Zimmerman, who became Columbia’s all-time leading scorer (female or male) late in the game with her 1,768th career point, hit five of eight shots in the second half, the Big Red’s dominant rebounding and hounding defense continually frustrated the rest of the Lions.  Widmann led all players with 20 points and 10 rebounds.  

Both teams entered the game with the fewest made threes per game in the Ivy League, so it was no surprise that Cornell hit only five on 35 percent shooting and Columbia had four at a 20 percent clip. With a game that was expected to be won and lost within the arc, the Big Red controlled the game with a 19 percent rebounding advantage (including an 84 to 16 percent split on Columbia shots) leading to six more made two-pointers and eight more points in the paint.

Cornell’s first conference victory gives them three wins in its last five games (all road contests) and an added boost in confidence heading into its return match against Columbia next Saturday afternoon at Newman Arena. The Lions, however, are left with more questions than answers as they try to get their first league win next weekend.

Harvard 76 vs Dartmouth 65

Harvard (9-6; 1-1 Ivy) coach Kathy Delaney-Smith has noted that her team has lacked consistency throughout the season.  Following the Crimson’s 63-56 loss in Hanover two weeks ago, her team has won its last two in convincing fashion.  Saturday night’s 11-point win over the Big Green (9-6; 1-1 Ivy) was perhaps the team’s most complete victory of the year.

After Dartmouth held a 16-13 lead in a back-and-forth start to the game, Harvard ended the quarter on an 11-0 run to take a eight-point lead after one.  The Crimson extended the lead to 16 before the Green & White went on a 10-4 run over the last 2:55 to make it a 10-point game at halftime.  In the first half, Harvard hit 10 threes at a 63 percent rate, led by starter Katie Benzan who hit five (17 first-half points) and reserve Sydney Skinner who added three (11 first half points). Dartmouth kept the game within reach by shooting 52 percent and hitting six threes at a 55 percent rate.

The Big Green got as close as eight twice in the second half, but Harvard never let them make a serious run.  The Crimson cooled off from outside, hitting only one three-pointer over the last 20 minutes, but they went 12 for 23 from two on the strength of Jeannie Boehm and Skinner who were 9-for-11 combined from close range.  Dartmouth stayed hot from three, hitting seven more from downtown, but struggled down low, hitting only four of 11 shots.  Skinner and Benzan each scored 20 points, while Boehm added 16 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and two blocks.  Cy Lippold pitched in 17 for Dartmouth in the losing effort.

With the win, Harvard goes to 1-1 in the conference, as well as 6-0 at home and 9-0 when shooting 29 percent or more from three-point range.  The teams get back to conference play next Friday when the Crimson welcome Yale and Dartmouth hosts Brown.

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