Princeton (0-2 This week; 1-3 overall)
vs Seton Hall 66-70
at Penn State 71-79 (OT)
Even with their starting lineup absences, the Tigers just missed sweeping two major conference foes this week. Against Seton Hall, Princeton came back from an 18 point third quarter deficit to hold a 66-59 point advantage with 2:15 left in the game. Unfortunately, the Orange & Black went scoreless the rest of the way, as the Pirates finished on an 11-0 run. The Tigers were also up 7 against Penn State with 2:42 left in regulation, but the Nittany Lions went on a 9-2 run to tie the game at 63. In the extra session, Princeton could only manage 1 field goal in 10 attempts as they went down to their third straight defeat.
Despite the losses, Princeton received improved play from first-year starters Grace Stone (13 points and 7 rebounds in 36 minutes vs PSU), and Kira Emsbo (6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 blocks in 12 minutes vs PSU), a 6′ 5″ forward who missed her senior season due to a ACL tear. A Thanksgiving tournament in Cancun against DePaul (#15), Syracuse (#18) and Kansas State should continue to give the younger Tigers more experience and make the whole team stronger by the time Bella Alarie, Taylor Baur and Qalea Ismail return from the DL.
Penn (2-1 This week; 3-1 overall)
at Notre Dame, 55-75
vs St. Joe’s, 65-45
vs NJIT, 85-42
The Quakers had a unique week where they played one of the nation’s strongest and weakest teams. In between those opposites, was a game against a Big 5 rival that made it into the 2018 postseason WNIT. Last year, Penn held the Fighting Irish to their lowest offensive output in the regular season. The same has held true for the first two weeks of the year, as Notre Dame hit the century mark against Harvard and DePaul. The Red & Blue’s 20 point win over St. Joe’s was the first time they won back-to-back games and its largest margin of victory against their city rival.
The 42 point blowout of NJIT was the team’s largest against a Division I opponent since January 1981. Penn hit 12 of 24 three pointers, which was their highest percentage since January 1981 and brought their yearly rate to 31.3 percent. Defensively, the Quakes are right on track, allowing opponents 53.2 points per game (#45 nationally) on 21.1 percent three point (#32 nationally) and 41.5 two point (#129) shooting.
Harvard (2-0 This week; 2-2 overall)
vs La Salle, 88-43
at Siena, 73-54
On their way to their 13th straight home victory, the Crimson shot 48 percent for the game, including 41 percent (13 made baskets) from three. On the defensive side, they outrebounded the Explorers by 24 percent and limited them to 27 percent shooting from the field. Against Siena, Harvard struggled from three (3-18), but managed to hit 52 percent from two (25-48) and 74 percent (14-19) from the line. They did allow the Saints 25 free throws (hitting 14), but gave up only 4 three pointers and 14 two pointers.
After 4 games, the Crimson have four players averaging double digits (Syndey Skinner: 13.8 ppg, Jadyn Bush: 11.5 ppg, Nani Redford: 10.5 ppg, Katie Benzan: 10.3 ppg), while leading the conference in points per game (71.0 ppg), three point shooting (32.7 percent) and offensive rebounding (36.5 percent).
Yale (1-1 This week; 2-2 overall)
vs Niagara, 67-64 at Stephen F. Austin (WNIT)
at Stephen F. Austin, 67-57 (WNIT)
After dropping its first round game in the preseason WNIT, the Bulldogs had to travel to Stephen F. Ausin to take part in a four-team consolation bracket. In the opener, Niagara used a 12-2 run to close out the third quarter up 50-46. Yale reclaimed the lead, 63-62, on a Roxy Barahman three with just over two minutes left and held on to escape with the win.
Against the hosts on Wednesday, Yale used a strong second quarter to take a 7 point lead at the half. The Ladyjacks got right back into the game with a 21-4 third quarter. In the last ten minutes, the Bulldogs twice cut the lead to four, but they could not get any closer. Although Barahman, the league’s leading scorer, put up 28 points on 42 percent shooting, the rest of the team scored 31 points on 33 percent shooting.
Yale’s defense is allowing 70.2 points per game, mostly due to opponent’s 34.9 percent three point and 82.7 percent free throw shooting. On the other side of the ball, they are limiting their rivals to 39 percent shooting from two. The team is leading the league in scoring with 71.0 points per game, despite shooting a league-low 22.9 percent from three and 57.9 percent from the charity stripe. In addition to improving their shooting percentages, the Bulldogs are going to need to get more scoring from their reserves, who are taking up 20 percent of the team’s minutes and producing only 11 percent of the team’s points.
Dartmouth (0-0 This week; 2-0 overall)
Brown (2-1 This week; 3-2 overall)
at Boston University, 51-72
vs New Hampshire, 76-70
at Holy Cross, 89-85
Last season the Bears defeated Boston University by 24 points. This year, the Terriers, which were chosen ninth in the Patriot League preseason poll, turned the tables with a 21 point rout. Coach Sarah Behn was able to find positives in the team’s worst nonconference loss since November 2015, telling Brown Athletics, “On a positive note, we moved the ball better on offense, and the shots just didn’t fall, especially in the beginning when it really mattered. We had open shots, and we can build on that as it was an improvement from our last game.”
The shots started to fall against New Hampshire, where Justine Gaziano had her second career double-double (29 points, 11 rebounds) and Bruno held a 15 point lead with just under 8 minutes remaining. The Wildcats whittled the lead down to 3 with 75 seconds remaining, but the more experienced Bears avoided the collapse and held on for the six point victory. Brown kept the positive momentum going with a road win at Holy Cross, in a game that featured 10 ties, 8 lead changes and a 9-2 end-of-game run.
Gaziano and Shayna Mehta are 2nd and 3rd in the league for scoring with 19.8 points and 19.6 points per game, respectively. Taylor Will, who averaged 17. 0 points before going down to a season ending injury last December, appears to be getting back to form, scoring 12 and 15 points in her last two games. If the team attempts to approach last year’ 75.3 points per game, it will need continued production from these three, as well as the rest of the starting lineup since the team is without two of last year’s main reserves (Dominique Leonidas; McKenna Dale).
In the preseason, the coaching staff noted an increased focus on defense. After five games Brown is giving up a league-high 73.0 points per game and allowing opponents to shoot 49.8 percent from two (#277 nationally). however, they are holding opponents to 24.8 percent from three (#72) and forcing 12.0 steals a game (#26).
Cornell (2-0 This week; 2-1 overall)
vs Albany, 48-34
at Colgate, ppd (snow)
vs UMass-Lowell, 63-54
Cornell picked up its first two wins of the season by emphasizing defense. In a low scoring affair against Albany, the number four team in the America East, the Red held an 11 percent rebounding advantage, while limiting the Great Danes to 28.9 shooting and a 17 year-low 34 points. In the Saturday match with UMass-Lowell, the Red entered the fourth quarter with a two point advantage and extended the lead to 12 within the next five minutes. The River Hawks, the ninth rated America East squad, never got closer than seven points the rest of the way. On the day, Cornell forced 19 steals, the most since 2002, while holding their opponents to 35 percent from the field and 18 percent from three.
Cornell is only scoring 57.3 points and shooting 23.4 percent from three. However, its 49.6 percent two point shooting is #80 in the country. Junior Samantha Widmann (13.0 ppg) and sophomore Halley Miklos (9.3 ppg) are in the top 10 percent of the nation in two point shooting, with 65.2 percent and 64.7 percent, respectively. On the defensive side, the Red are only allowing an average of 53.3 points per contest, which is third in the Ivies and top 50 overall. They also have a 71.4 percent defensive rebounding rate (#87), while limiting opponents to 37.6 percent shooting from two (#60) and forcing 11.3 steals a game (#42).
Columbia (1-2 This week; 2-2 overall)
vs Army, 70-49
at Milwaukee, 78-65
at Illinois, 76-69
Columbia, which was up five at the break, outscored Army 21-9 in the third quarter to enjoy its biggest home opening win since 2009. The smaller and quicker Lions may have been outrebounded by 11 and given up 26 free throw attempts, but they forced 12 steals and 16 turnovers. From the outside, they shot 8 threes at a 38 percent rate, while holding the Black Knights to a 0-11 night.
The Lions went down by 11 to Milwaukee at the half, but cut the lead to three with just under two minutes to go in the third quarter. A 13-4 run by the Panthers ended any hopes Columbia had of starting the season 3-0. While the Light Blue & White shot 42 percent and Milwaukee hit 37 percent, the big difference was at the foul line, where the Panthers went 25-37 and earned 15 more points than the Lions.
On Sunday, Illinois stretched a 4 point halftime lead to 16 midway through the third quarter. A furious Columbia comeback got the Illini’s lead down to 72-69 with just over a minute to go, but two missed three pointers left the Lions coming up short in their quest for a first-ever victory over a Big Ten team.
Columbia is presently shooting 42.0 percent from the field (1st Ivy), including 50.7 percent from two (2nd Ivy, #63 nationally), while holding teams to 26.7 percent from three and 40.1 percent from inside the arc. The Lions are doing this with a revamped lineup, relying heavily on their first year class. So far, this group has provided 49 percent of available minutes, 53 percent of points, 50 percent of rebounds and 52 percent of assists. Leading the way for the Light Blue & White is the present Rookie of the Week Sienna Durr, who is averaging 15.5 points (6th in Ivy) on 56.1 percent shooting (5th) and Mikayla Markham, who is putting up 8.5 points, 5.8 rebounds (14th) and 3.5 assists (5th) over 34.8 minutes (7th) a game.
Ancient Eight’s Top Eight
Roxy Barahman – Yale (junior, guard)
vs Niagara: 23 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal
vs SFA: 26 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal
Jadyn Bush – Harvard (sophomore, forward)
vs LaSalle: 11 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals
vs Siena: 19 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block
Sienna Durr – Columbia (first-year, guard/forward)
vs Army: 21 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block
vs Milwaukee: 17 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
vs Illinois: 9 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist
Laura Bagwell-Katalinich – Cornell (junior, forward)
vs Albany: 14 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks
vs UM-L: 7 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals, 1 block
Shayna Mehta – Brown (senior, guard)
vs BU: 23 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals
vs UNH: 13 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals, 1 block
vs HC: 34 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals
Gabrielle Rush – Princeton (senior, guard)
vs SH: 18 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals
vs PSU: 20 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist
Ashley Russell – Penn (senior, guard)
vs ND: 15 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block
vs St. Joe’s: 11 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal
vs NJIT: 25 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals
Samantha Widmann – Cornell (junior, guard/forward)
vs Albany: 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals
vs UM-L: 20 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals, 1 block