Ivy women’s basketball week in review – Feb. 2-3, 2018

Fri., Feb. 2

Penn 88 at Brown 55
Harvard 85 vs Columbia 67
Dartmouth 55 vs Cornell 40
Yale 73 vs Princeton 59

Sat., Feb. 3

Princeton 77 at Brown 62
Penn 69 at Yale 54
Dartmouth 88 vs Columbia 65
Harvard 80 vs Cornell 58

1st – Harvard (5-1 Ivy; 13-6 Overall)

Harvard led wire-to-wire against Columbia and Cornell to move into sole possession of first place.  In Friday’s victory over the Lions, the Crimson had five players score in double figures and held a 57-14 advantage with points in the paint.  Against the Big Red, Harvard had four players reach double digits, went plus-23 in second chance points and secured 23 more rebounds.  For the weekend, the team shot 55% from two and 51 percent from three with Ivy Player of the Week Katie Benzan putting up 20 each night and first-year Jadyn Bush getting her first career double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds) on Saturday.  Harvard, which is now a combined 128-15 against the New Yorkers, finished its home stand 6-0 and will head south to see if the team can improve on its 1-5 road record when visiting the Ps this weekend.

Tie 2nd – Princeton (4-1 Ivy; 14-4 Overall)

The Tigers opened up Friday night’s game at Yale scoring the first nine points, however, the Bulldogs hit 32 of the next 39 points, controlling a Princeton team that last played 19 days earlier.  Leslie Robinson scored 18 points and Gabrielle Rush had 16, but they had trouble getting any additional scoring.  As a group, they gave up 11 three-pointers to Yale, while committing 24 turnovers that led to 23 Bulldog points.  On Saturday, the Tigers did not have any problems with their offense against Brown, hitting six of 10 three-pointers and five of five free throws in the first 20 minutes to open up an 18-point halftime lead.  By game’s end, five Princeton players scored in double digits and the bench put up a season-high 39 points. Defensively, they held the Bears to four three-pointers on 24 percent shooting and were plus-11 on the boards.

Tie 2nd – Penn (4-1 Ivy; 13-5 Overall)

Penn returned to Ivy action, this weekend, dominating Brown and Yale to extend its winning streak to seven games.  The Quakers got out quickly, shooting 60 percent in the first quarter to open up a 15-point lead over the Bears.  They ended up shooting 13 threes at 37 percent, as well as 50 percent from two, while holding Brown to 27 percent from three and 36 percent from two. Penn’s 88 points were the team’s highest in league play in 17 years and the 33-point margin of victory was its largest Ivy win in 18 years.  On Saturday, Lauren Whitlatch, Phoebe Sterba and Anna Ross went a combined 10-for-20 from three to pace the Quakers offense against the Bulldogs.  The frontcourt depth proved too much for Yale, as the Quakers held Yale to 36 percent from two, got 28 second-chance points and were plus-16 in total rebounds.  The Quakers are now leading the conference with 55.6 points allowed and are 7-0 on the season when hitting more than 10 three-pointers.

4th – Dartmouth (4-2 Ivy; 12-7 Overall)

The Big Green held serve against the Empire State Ivies to claim the last spot in the upper division as the league approaches the halfway point in the schedule.  In a game where inside scoring was difficult, Dartmouth easily won the outside shooting battle against Cornell.  The Green & White, the league’s best at shooting and defending the three, made 11 treys at 50 percent while holding the Big Red to two baskets fro that range at 14 percent.  Against the Lions, Dartmouth added 10 more threes at a 48 percent rate, but their interior play was able to get 28 buckets with 62 percent shooting and  a plus-12 rebounding advantage.  Kate Letkewicz (20 points, 10 rebounds) and Cy Lippold (15 points, 12 rebounds) had double-doubles on Saturday, while senior forward Andi Norman totaled 28 points, including 8-for-11 from three, for the weekend.

5th – Yale (3-3 Ivy; 10-9 Overall)

Another weekend split for Yale, but its win was an enormous victory against then-league leading Princeton.  The Bulldogs’ double-digit victory came in expected and unexpected ways.  Yale’s defense, which entered the game leading the league with 11.2 steals and 15.7 turnovers per game, forced 15 steals (eight alone by Tamara Simpson, the nation’s fourth-best ball thief) and 24 turnovers.  The Bulldogs’ offense, though, arrived with a league-low 26.7 percent three-point rate yet hit 47.8 percent of its long-range shots (11-23) against a Tigers team that entered with the league’s best three-point defense. On Saturday, the Elis’ lower totals (eight steals, 15 turnovers, 10 points off turnovers, and five threes at 33 percent rate) were not enough against Penn, the league’s second-best defensive unit.

Yale is presently in fifth place, but wins against Dartmouth on the road and top-tier Princeton, give it a more favorable position for a spot in the Ivy League Tournament.  According to the Yale Undergraduate Sports Analytics Group’s (YUSAG) simulations, the Bulldogs entered the weekend with a 55.8 percent chance of making it to the Palestra and a 31.6 percent likelihood of being the fourth seed.  Following these last two games, the team is now at an 85.1 percent chance of being in the tournament and has a 48.9 percent chance of being the No. 3 seed.

6th – Brown (1-5 Ivy; 13-6 Overall)

Despite a return home, Brown was swept for its second straight Ivy weekend.  While the losses to Penn and Princeton were not necessarily a surprise, the size of the losses were a bit unsettling for a team that was considered a threat to the league’s premier teams just six weeks ago.  In the two defeats, the Bears’ defense allowed 20 three-pointers at a 40 percent rate, 20 more rebounds, and 24 more points in the paint. Brown’s offense averaged 58.5 points (22.1 points below its season average), had 12 three-pointers at a 25.5 percent rate, 41.0 percent two-point shooting and 23 bench points (47 less than the Ps).

Brown heads back on the road for the Empire State weekend with very little room for error.  As the YUSAG predictions show Brown in sixth place with a 8.7 percent chance of making the Ivy Tournament, a sweep of Cornell and Columbia is a must to keep its hopes of returning to the league’s final four (not to mention assistant coach Tyler Patch’s return engagement on Inside Ivy Hoops.

Tie 6th – Columbia (1-5 Ivy; 7-14 Overall)

If there could be a bright spot for a team that lost by 18 at Harvard and 23 at Dartmouth, it would be Columbia’s strong free throw shooting. The Lions went 21 of 23 in the two games, adding to their league leading 78.2 percent rate. For individual performances, first-year guard Riley Casey put up a career high 20 points in the Dartmouth loss, while Camille Zimmerman had a season-high 31 against Harvard and 20 against the Big Green. Earlier in the week, Zimmerman was named as one of 10 finalists (along with Princeton’s Bella Alarie) for the Katrina McLain Award that goes to the nation’s best power forward. The Tempe, Arizona native’s 51 weekend points put her at 1,842 for her career, moving her ahead of Penn’s Alyssa Baron for ninth place on the Ivy all-time list.   She currently sits four points from Dartmouth’s Jayne Daigle, 21 from Harvard’s Reka Cserny, 38 from the Big Green’s Katherine Hanks and 91 behind Dartmouth’s all-time leading scorer Gail Koziara Boudreaux, the mother of former Big Green (and future Xavier) forward Evan Boudreaux.

Tie 6th – Cornell (1-5 Ivy; 5-13 Overall)

It was a difficult weekend for the Big Red, as they shot 29 percent from three, 35 percent from two and 48 percent from the free throw line.  They did manage to hold a 27 percent rebounding advantage against Dartmouth, but they followed that up with a 36 percent disadvantage on the boards against Harvard. Samantha Widmann managed to have back-to-back nights with 16 points and nine rebounds to lead the way for Cornell.  In league play, the sophomore guard is eighth in scoring, fifth in rebounding and second in steals.

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