Brown’s offense is too potent to miss Ivy League Tournament again
If Brown misses the Ivy League Tournament for a second straight season with as much offensive firepower as it has, it’ll really be a shame.
Brown senior guard Shayna Mehta’s career-high 37 points led the way, and the Bears’ elder Mehta has been one of the league’s standout scorers for a long time now, going back to her Ivy Rookie of the Year campaign in 2015-16.
But Mehta wasn’t alone in gouging a strong Yale defense in the Bears’ 86-71 win over the Bulldogs Friday. Seniors Erika Steeves and Taylor Will, who missed Ivy play last season due to injury, and junior Justine Gaziano combined for 43 points on 18-for-34 shooting. The Bears overwhelmed Yale inside and out, topping Yale by double digits at Pizzitola Sports Center while scoring 80-plus points for the second straight season.
Just as impressive as Mehta’s 37 points were her eight steals, characteristic for a team that ranks first in the league in steals and second in turnover margin. Brown convincingly outscored Yale in points off turnovers, 29-13. The key for Brown going forward will be continuing to turn Ivy opponents over enough to supplement its veteran offensive attack.
The Bears could score a huge sweep in this matchup between the two Ivies that have been No. 4 seeds in the modern iteration of the women’s conference tournament the past two years. Yale will have to clamp down on defense at John J. Lee Amphitheater Saturday, get another top-notch performance from rookie forward Camilla Emsbo (26 points,10 rebounds and three blocks in the loss) and junior guard (and Ivy leading scorer) Roxy Barahman, who scored just eight points in 31 minutes.
Cornell’s M.O. is clear
Cornell relied on its defense and a methodical inside scoring attack to jump out early on Columbia at Newman Arena, building a 30-17 halftime lead that ultimately held up enough in a 60-51 victory despite the Lions briefly taking the lead in the fourth quarter after their shooting heated up. Junior forward Laura Bagwell-Katalinich started 5-for-5 from the floor en route to 21 points on seven boards, while Samantha Widmann added 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Cornell outscored Columbia in the paint, 32-8, and doubled up the Lions on offensive boards, 22-11, which resulted in the Big Red getting 20 second-chance points to Columbia’s seven. Outside shooting remains an issue for Cornell, and Columbia would have notched a win in Ithaca if it had just gotten some better deep shooting early on a Big Red squad that is tough to beat inside. These two teams are a study in contrasts – Columbia a rookie and sophomore-laden outfit (with first-year Mikayla Markham standing out with a 13-point, 10-assist performance) that ranks in the upper half of the league in made threes and Cornell a more veteran squad that prefers to grind games out. The rematch in Manhattan this Saturday should be very interesting.
Harvard doesn’t need treys to win
Harvard leads the Ivy League in three-pointers made and trey percentage but couldn’t get much going on offense from outside or anywhere else early, missing nine of 11 three-point attempts in the first quarter and 20 of 26 for the game.
It didn’t matter because Dartmouth didn’t score in the first quarter. At all.
En route to a 56-46 win at Lavietes Pavilion, Harvard ran up a 14-0 score in the first quarter as Dartmouth went 0-for-14 from the floor, and the Big Green shot 19-for-65 (29.2 percent) for the game, allowing the Crimson to get away with committing 23 turnovers to Dartmouth’s 13.
A 27-point third quarter for the Big Green wasn’t quite enough despite slimming the lead to five going into the final stanza.
Both teams will probably shoot better in the travel partner rematch at Leede Arena Saturday. It’d be hard for them not to.
Cornell keeps winning close at home
Cornell’s white-knuckle 60-59 victory over Columbia Saturday was the Big Red’s second straight one-point win over Columbia at Newman Arena and third one-point home Ivy win the past two seasons – and that doesn’t even include Cornell’s triple overtime victory over Princeton last year.
Cornell all-time leading scorer Matt Morgan averaged 26 points per game in those contests but notched just two in the second half of the Big Red’s win Saturday. What put Cornell over the top, despite two missed front ends of one-and-ones late by the Big Red, were two Gabe Stefanini turnovers, a missed Stefanini jumper and a missed would-be game-tying free throw by Stefanini with three seconds left.
Despite his six turnovers, Stefanini accounted for a third of Columbia’s field goals, posting 18 points on 8-for-18 shooting.
Cornell folks hope they don’t see the Big Red get blown out at Levien Gym Saturday like they did last season. With even slightly better outside shooting, the Lions would seem to have the edge in the rematch at home.
It’s good to have Trey Phills playing defense for you
After Yale’s 70-67 win at Brown in Ivy opener, Yale coach James Jones credited Trey Phills with spearheading a defensive effort that held Brown’s sophomore guard and Lou Henson Award mid-season watch list member Desmond Cambridge to seven points on 3-for-19 shooting.
“Trey Phills did an amazing job,” Jones said, per Yale Athletics. “Miye [Oni] and Jalen Gabbidon who [also] guarded him, did a great job of staying in front of him and making him take tough shots. He is a tough shot maker, but it’s hard to do that consistently. We just wanted to make sure that every shot he got was hard, and we did a great job of that.”
Brown shot 38.3 percent from the floor at home, a clip that falls to 32.8 percent when you take away sophomore forward Tamenang Choh’s 9-for-15 shooting, which led to 18 points in addition to his 16 rebounds (six offensive).
Not surprisingly, Yale set up shop in the paint at the other end of the floor, registering 44 points in the paint, with Paul Atkinson, Blake Reynolds, Jordan Bruner, Phills and Alex Copeland each notching at least four two-point field goals.
This will be an exciting rematch Friday in New Haven between two uptempo teams with stout defenses.
Penn gets another surprise performance
Penn’s been great under coach Steve Donahue at getting outstanding games from players not expected to contribute much, like Devon Goodman’s 23-point, five-assist performance in a win at Columbia last season, Sam Jones’s 15 points in 13 minutes in a win at Dayton last season, Jackson Donahue’s 20 points in 29 minutes at Brown in 2017 or Tyler Hamilton’s 11 points in 37 minutes in the 2015-16 season finale at Princeton.
Right up there is Jakub “Kuba” Mijakowski’s 14 points in 20 minutes (including 4-for-6 from long range) in Penn’s win at Temple, which gave Penn a share of its first Big 5 championship since 2002. Mijakowski had played only 40 minutes in 10 appearances this season. It was also Penn’s last matchup against the Owls with longtime former Penn coach Fran Dunphy helming them, dropping him to 11-2 against his former team (losing his first matchup against the Red and Blue in 2007 and this last one).
This and the final Big 5 tilt of the season Saturday against St. Joseph’s at the Palestra were to be critical post-Princeton tuneups for a Penn squad that finds itself underachieving at 0-2 in Ivy play. Penn showed against Temple what it can do when it’s got the shooting touch (12-for-30 from deep and 21 assists on 28 field goals).