Ivy women’s basketball week in review – Feb. 9-10, 2018

Fri., Feb. 9
Princeton 80 vs Harvard 47
Penn 65 vs Dartmouth 47
Yale 73 at Columbia 50
Cornell 70 vs Brown 68

Sat., Feb. 10
Princeton 82 vs Dartmouth 63
Penn 69 vs Harvard 49
Yale 65 at Cornell 55
Brown 84 at Columbia 80

Tie 1st – Princeton (6-1 Ivy; 16-4 Overall)
The Tigers beat then-first place Harvard by 33 points, containing the Crimson to a season-low 47 points. On offense, Princeton hit 11 three-pointers on 42 percent shooting, including 10 of 14 from Carlie Littlefield, Gabrielle Rush, and Abby Meyers.  Defensively, they held Harvard to 28 percent shooting from two and 29 percent from three while outscoring them 26-10 in the paint and 25-5 on second chances. On Saturday, the Orange & Black put up 82 points, their most since scoring 85 points at Seton Hall in the second game of the season. Littlefield (Ivy League Co-Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week), Rush, and Meyers had seven more made threes at a 54 percent rate, while the entire team made 24 two pointers at 53 percent. Defensively, the Tigers stymied the Big Green’s front court, limiting its top three forwards into 24 percent shooting and 13.3 points less than their combined season averages.

Tie 1st – Penn (6-1 Ivy; 15-5 Overall)

Penn’s weekend sweep of Dartmouth and Harvard ran its win streak to nine and put the Quakers into a tie for first place with Princeton.  On Friday, the offense was respectable with a 45 percent rate from two and 31 percent from three.  The strength and depth of the front court, however, held Dartmouth to only seven two-pointers at a 23 percent rate, while having a 21 percent rebounding advantage.  Against Harvard, the defense did its usual outstanding job, allowing only 35 percent shooting from two and 29 percent from three, while Michelle Nwokedi, the reigning Ivy Player of the Year, led the offense with four three pointers and 30 points.  As a team, the Quakers only shot 38 percent from two, but they managed 12 threes on 43 percent shooting.

As the league’s top two teams meet at Jadwin on Tuesday night, the Red & Blue are playing their best basketball of the season, while the Tigers have rebounded from their lengthy finals break and their surprise loss at Yale. With Nwokedi and Eleah Parker playing in sync, Penn should have a stronger inside presence then it did when these teams met in early January at the Palestra.  If they can handle Alarie and Leslie Robinson better than they did in the first match, this contest may be settled by production outside the arc.

Tie 3rd – Harvard (5-3 Ivy; 13-8 Overall)

Harvard entered the weekend in first place with a six-game win streak and a string of four straight games scoring 80 or more points. By early Saturday evening, the team had suffered its second straight defeat, dropped to third place, had a season-low 47-point performance at Princeton and was outscored by Michelle Nwokedi in the first half at Penn (27 to 21).  Taylor Rooks, Jeannie Boehm and Sydney Skinner had been averaging 40.8 combined points during the recent win streak, but the Tigers and Quakers held them to 14 and 10 combined points, respectively.  Katie Benzan, the previous Ivy Player of the Week, was a bright spot, scoring 26 points in the two games. As bad as the defeats were for the Crimson, the potential loss of Boehm may have been worse. With about 5:30 left in Saturday’s game, Boehm went up for a baby hook shot and landed awkwardly on her right leg.  As she attempted to head back on defense, she collapsed face-first onto the court.  After several minutes, she was brought to the bench in definite pain.  As of now, there’s been no word on the status of her injury or her availability for this weekend’s crucial contests against Brown and Yale.

Tie 3rd – Yale (5-3 Ivy; 12-9 Overall)

After splitting the last two weekends, the Bulldogs went on the road and swept Columbia and Cornell. Yale started slowly against the Lions, down 19-18 with 6:24 left in the first half, before going on a 13-0 run to take a lead they would never relinquish.  On Saturday night, the Big Red kept the game close, but the Elis ended up leading for all but 16 seconds of the contest.  For the weekend, Jen Berkowitz, who was named Ivy Co-Player of the Week, totaled 39 points on 69 percent shooting, while Tamara Simpson and Roxy Barahman each added 27 points.  Yale, which entered as the league’s lowest three-point shooting team, put up 14 treys at a 39 percent rate. The defense, anchored by Berkowitz and Simpson, held the New Yorkers to 38 percent shooting from two and 25 percent from three, while holding Camille Zimmerman to 10 points on 25 percent shooting.

With the program’s first weekend road sweep in five years, the Bulldogs moved from fifth to third place in the standings.  Due to their earlier victories over Princeton and Dartmouth, as well as hosting four of its last six games at home, the Elis have a 96.8 percent probability of making the Ivy Tournament and a 65.5 percent chance of being the third seed, according to the Yale Undergraduate Sports Analytics Group (YUSAG).

5th – Dartmouth (4-4 Ivy; 12-9 Overall)

As good as the Big Green’s season has been, this weekend showed that they still have work to do before being able to compete with the league’s most elite teams.  If there were any positives in the two blowout loses, it was the team’s 46 percent three-point shooting against the Tigers, Emily Slagle’s 18 points versus Princeton and Kate Letkewicz’s 20 weekend points. Similar to Harvard, the biggest loss for Dartmouth may have been an significant injury. Starting center Olivia Smith hit the ground with an apparent right knee injury early in the second quarter at Princeton.  There was no word on Smith’s apparent injury as of Monday night.

In fifth place, with a home loss to Yale, without a win against the league’s top two teams, a season split with Harvard and four remaining road games, the Green & White’s chances to make the Ivy Tournament dropped from 29.5 percent to 15.2 percent according to the YUSAG.  This weekend, Dartmouth will hit the road for two much-needed wins against Yale and Brown.  If the team is without Smith’s 7.2 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, the Big Green frontcourt would be thinner and their chances more difficult as they try to keep their decreasing postseason hopes alive.

Tie 6th – Brown (2-6 Ivy; 14-7 Overall)

Brown’s wishes for a spot in the Ivy Tournament have been declining by the week and its loss to Cornell on Friday night may have been the unofficial end of its dream season.  Following the 11th tie of the game, the Big Red threw the ball away, giving the Bears 37 second left for the win.  With the shot clock winding down, Janie White missed a layup with nine seconds left.  Samantha Widmann then went coast-to-coast to put up the buzzer beating layup.  In another back-and-forth game against Columbia on Saturday, the Bears were down two with just over 2:30 left but managed to finish the game on a 6-0 run to salvage a weekend split.

After Penn and Princeton held the Bears to its two lowest scoring nights of the season last weekend, Brown’s offense recovered to put up 152 points on 48 percent overall shooting.  Unfortunately, its defense still had major troubles.  The Bears allowed 150 combined points and 16 threes on 37 percent shooting, as well as 43 percent two-point shooting to two of the league’s weakest offenses that entered the weekend with 31 percent shooting from three and 39 percent from two in league play.  With a 4.2 percent chance of making the Ivy Tournament, Brown will need to sweep against Harvard and Dartmouth to keep hope alive.

Tie 6th – Cornell (2-6 Ivy; 6-15 Overall)

A big win over Brown ended a three-game losing streak and earned Cornell its second conference win of the year. On the night, the team scored 70 points, 19.2 more than its Ivy League average, and put four players in double figures. On the other side of the ball, Cornell had 10 steals and forced 14 turnovers which led to 23 points. Against Yale, the team had 10 more steals and forced 19 turnovers, but only managed 16 points. The offense came down, as the Big Red put up 55 points and only had only one player in double digits.  Samantha Widmann, the fourth-best scorer and third-highest rebounder in league contests, continued her strong play with 44 points and 20 rebounds on the weekend.

8th – Columbia (1-7; 7-16 Overall)

The Lions were dominated by Yale on Friday night, but almost pulled off the victory against Brown. Against the Bears, the Lions had four double digit scorers, shooting 42 percent overall and 44 percent from three.  Zimmerman led the way with 22 points and a career-high 24 rebounds.  She also ended Saturday’s game in sixth place on the all-time Ivy scoring list with 1,874 career points.  Janiya Clemmons also made it onto the conference’s Honor Roll with 26 points and 14 rebounds in the two games.

Upcoming Games

Tues., Feb. 13

Penn at Princeton 6:30 p.m.

Fri., Feb. 16

Penn at Columbia 4 p.m.
Princeton at Cornell 6 p.m.
Harvard at Brown 6 p.m.
Dartmouth at Yale 6 p.m.

Sat., Feb. 17

Princeton at Columbia 4 p.m.
Dartmouth at Brown 4 p.m.
Penn at Cornell 5 p.m.
Harvard at Yale 6 p.m.

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