Ivy Saturday women’s hoops recap: Ivy champions and seedings decided

On Saturday night, the Ivy League regular season ended with a co-championship, another dominant night from the third-place team and a surprise fourth-place team heading to Ivy Madness.

Princeton (20-9, 12-2 Ivy) 80 at Yale (16-13, 6-8) 68

Princeton defeated Yale, 80-68, to clinch a share of the Ivy title with Penn and the No. 1 seed for the upcoming Ivy Tournament based on its better record over third-place Harvard. The win gives the Tigers their second straight title, their 14th overall and the seventh in 12 years under coach Courtney Banghart.

The Tigers were up 39-25 with 2:30 left in the second quarter, when the Bulldogs finished the half on a 7-0 run.  Bella Alarie and Carlie Littlefield led the way with 16 and six points respectively, but both ended the half with three fouls.  Yale got within two, 47-45, with 3:49 left in the third, but Princeton responded with an 11-3 run to make it a 10-point game with 9:30 left in the fourth quarter.  A Camilla Embso layup cut the lead to eight, 58-50, but that would be as close as the Bulldogs would get.

Alarie finished with 31 points (10-for-18 field goals and 11-for-12 free throws), 13 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and two steals.  Littlefield ended the night with 20 points (6-for-12 field goals and 7-for-7 free throws) and Gabrielle Rush had seven points, six rebounds and a career-high 10 assists.  The Tigers again struggled from three with 25 percent (3-for-12), but excelled at the two with 50 percent (22-for-44) and the free throw line with 87 percent (27-for-31).

The Bulldogs did manage to get 34 points from the frontcourt, 33 percent (9-for-27) from three and 78 percent (11-for-14) from the free throw line, but they could only shoot 37 percent (15-for-41) from inside the arc.  Roxy Barahman finished with 17 points, while Emsbo scored 12 and Tori Andrew added 11 points in the loss.

While Princeton gets ready to play the opening game at the Ivy League Tournament next Saturday night at 6 p.m., the Bulldogs finish the regular season on a tremendously disappointing note.  On Feb. 8, they had defeated Princeton at Jadwin to go 4-1 in league play.  Over the next nine games, they would go 2-7 with their only wins coming against seventh-place Columbia.  Yale, which made it to the 2018 Ivy League Tournament and won last year’s Women’s Basketball Invitational Championship, now has to watch four teams play on its home court and wonder what might have been.

Penn (22-5, 12-2) 75 at Brown (9-21, 1-13) 53

The Quakers handily defeated Brown, claiming its fourth straight victory and a share of the Ivy League championship with Princeton.  The title is Penn’s sixth in program history and fourth in the last six seasons.

The game was never in doubt, as the Red & Blue opened up a 21-11 lead after one quarter and finished the half up 35-20.  Penn opened the third quarter on a 9-2 run to increase its advantage to 22 and ended the quarter up 60-38.  Brown never got closer than 20 in the fourth quarter, as the Quakers completed its fourth straight victory and sent the Bears to their 13th straight defeat.

Penn’s Eleah Parker had 26 points on 12-for-20 shooting, eight rebounds and three blocks.  Phoebe Sterba added 23 points (7-for-11 from downtown and Princess Aghayere ended with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists.  Ashley Russell finished with six points, nine rebounds and six assists. The Quakers shot 53 percent on the night, including 56 percent (22-for-39) from two and 45 percent (9-for-20) from three,  They also added 16 more points in the paint and 10 more second-chance points.  The defense gave its usual strong effort, securing 10 more rebounds, while holding Brown to 17 percent (5-for-29) from three.

Due to the 1-1 head-to-head matchup with Princeton, the Quakers tied for first, but ended up with the No. 2 seed for the Ivy Tournament based on their lesser record against third place Harvard.  They will be in the 2 vs. 3 game on Saturday night, 30 minutes after the conclusion of the opening game. Brown, meanwhile, is done with the season as it suffered its 13h straight loss.  The Bears will lose four starters and three 1,000-plus scorers from their 2017 Ivy Madness team, as they continue to try to become a more defensive-oriented team.

Harvard (16-11, 9-5) 69 vs Columbia (8-19, 4-10) 56

After Yale’s loss to Penn on Friday night, Harvard had clinched a spot in Ivy Madness and were locked into the No. 3 seed. Despite playing in a game that had no Ivy Madness implications, the Crimson dominated from the start, opening up leads of 28-9 and 41-20 at the half.  The Lions cut the deficit to 17 points after three and continued chipping away until a Sydney Brown three brought the Harvard lead down to two, 60-55, with two minutes left in regulation.  Over the next 90 seconds, the Crimson went on an 8-0 run to put the game out of reach.

Four players scored in double-digits on the night for Harvard, with Sydney Skinner getting 17, Katie Benzan hitting 16, Madeline Raster adding 14 and Nani Redford putting in 10. Raster added 11 rebounds and three assists. as well.  Although the Crimson made 10 three-pointers, they only shot them with 26 percent success. Benzan was the exception for the Crimson as she went 4-for-8 from downtown.

Both teams struggled with their shots, as Columbia made 37 percent form the field and 56 percent from the charity stripe, while Harvard made 36 percent from the field and 69 percent from the line.  Harvard though, used its 46-39 rebounding advantage to get seven more attempts from the field and seven more tries at the free throw line.

Harvard will now face Penn in the second Ivy League Tournament game on Saturday night.  The two teams split their season series with both games going into overtime. Columbia finishes in seventh place, but the young Lions had lots of positive experiences to build on for next season.

Cornell (12-13, 6-8) 57 at Dartmouth (13-14, 6-8) 47

Cornell, picked eighth in the Ivy preseason poll, bounced back from a 42-point loss to Harvard on Friday night to upset Dartmouth and secure the last spot in the 2019 Ivy League Tournament.

The Red had a great start, going up 12-2 in the game’s first six minutes, but Dartmouth scored the next 19 points over the next eight minutes to go up 21-12. The Red bounced back to finish the half on a 10-5 run to leave Dartmouth with a 26-22 halftime lead.

A Danielle Jorgenson layup gave Cornell back the lead, 29-28, at the 5:44 mark of the third quarter, but the Big Green would finish the third quarter with a 37-34 advantage.  The Red came out for the fourth quarter and scored 14 unanswered points to take a 48-37 lead with 5:14 to go in regulation.  A Katie Douglas layup cut the lead to 50-43 with three minutes remaining, but Cornell hit seven of 10 free throws and limited Dartmouth to only four points the rest of the way.

The key for the Big Red was their three-point defense.  When Dartmouth opened up its big first-half lead, it hit five of its first nine three-pointers. Coach Dayna Smith then switched from zone to man-to-man and Dartmouth only went 1-for-12 from downtown the rest of the night.

Offensively, Cornell shot 47 percent (9-for-19) from two, 13 percent (1-for-8) from three and 33 percent (1-for-3) from the line in the first half.  In the decisive second half, however, the Red raised their totals to 72 percent (13-for-18) from inside the arc, 75 percent (3-for-4) from outside the arc and 77 percent (10-for-13) from the free throw line.

Samatha Widmann led the way for the Red with a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double and four assists.  Laura Bagwell-Katalinich, who sat 10 minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, ended up with 15 points and seven rebounds.  Dylan Higgins came off the bench to give Cornell 10 points.  For Dartmouth, Douglas had 10 points and Isalys Quinones had nine.  Cy Lippold battled back from a major knee injury to play 19 minutes but could only manage two points in her last game for the Big Green.

Cornell ended the night tied with Yale and Dartmouth at 6-8 in league play. Since the Red swept the Bulldogs and split with the Green, they ended up with a 3-1 record in head-to-head matchups and won the first tiebreaker.  As a result, they earned the last Ivy Tournament slot and will take on Princeton next Saturday night.

This is the second straight year that the Big Green just missed out on the Ivy Tournament, with last year’s squad one game out of fourth place.

Two years ago, Cornell was in fourth place at 7-6 heading into a de facto play-in game at Newman Arena against 6-7 Brown. Their senior-dominant team lost to the young upstart Bears, 67-46, and missed out on the first Ivy Tournament due to the head-to-head tiebreaker.  With Samantha Widmann the only player remaining from that squad, coach Smith’s rebuild has taken a giant step to make it to this year’s Ivy Madness.

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