While November 5 was Election Day for statewide offices in Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia, it was Opening Day for college basketball across the entire nation.
For the Ivies, Harvard tipped things off at noon, picking up the Ancient Eight’s first “W” of the 2019-20 campaign with a road win at Northern Illinois. Princeton’s “pretty great machine” dominated Rider to give Carla Berube her first victory as the Tigers’ head coach. Dartmouth used a balanced attack to take down neighboring Vermont.
Columbia gave Albany all it could handle, but came up just short in an overtime defeat at the SEFCU Arena. Brown, playing without its biggest offensive weapon, had several chances in the last minute but fell by one to crosstown rival Bryant.
Yale had the strangest opener of the day, as the Bulldogs and Friars of Providence had to suspend their game due to a scoreboard malfunction at the JLA. (School and league officials should be thankful this problem did not show up at last March’s Ivy Madness).
For the two teams that were sidelined on Tuesday, Cornell will travel to Albany for a Friday 7 p.m. contest and Penn will host Siena at the Palestra on Saturday at noon.
Harvard (1-0) 59 at Northern Illinois (0-1) 53
Rookie guard Lola Mullaney, a last-minute starter in place of junior forward Jadyn Bush, made the most of her good fortune. By the 15-minute mark, Crimson fans almost forgot about the loss of Katie Benzan as Mullaney put up 20 points with six three-pointers.
Senior forward Jeannie Boehm and Mullaney scored 32 of Harvard’s first 39 points as the team build a 15-point halftime lead. After a run-and-gun 20 minutes, the pace slowed in the third quarter as the team’s combined for only 15 points.
As the Crimson struggled to put up points throughout the second half, the Huskies’ offense finally woke up at the beginning of the fourth quarter. A 7-0 Northern Illinois run cut their deficit to nine, but Boehm got back-to-back layups to make it a 13-point game with three minutes to go in regulation.
After another Huskies run made it an eight-point game with 75 seconds left, Harvard hit just enough free throws (8-for-16) to hold on for the six-point win.
Mullaney finished 25 points and Boehm posted 16 points and 14 rebounds. Those two shot a combined 48% (16-for-33) from the field and 40% (6-for-15) from beyond the arc, but the rest of the team only hit 18% (5-for-28) overall and 12% (2-for-17) from three. Fortunately, the Crimson defense held the Huskies to 22% shooting, including 21% from three, while the winning the rebounding battle by 4%.
Princeton (1-0) 80 vs Rider (0-1) 47
At Princeton’s Media Day, Bella Alarie, Carlie Littlefield and new head coach Carla Berube stressed a strong defensive effort to be used to jump start its offense. The defense was present from the beginning of its opening night contest against nearby Rider, but it took the offense a few quarters to finally catch-up.
The Tigers held the Broncs to 24 first-half points on the strength of 29% shooting from two, 13 forced turnovers and limiting star point guard Stella Johnson (preseason MAAC Player of the Year; one of 20 players named to the Nancy Lieberman Award watch list) to 13 minutes of action and five points.
Princeton put up 33 points on 36% shooting from the field. Sophomore Neenah Young was the spark plug for the Tigers, coming off the bench to put in 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting (3-for-4 from three).
The Tigers offense woke up in the second half, as the Orange & Black shot 40% from the field (including 52% from two) and made 22 free throws. Despite giving up 17 points to Johnson, the defense did its part, holding Rider to 31% from the field, and one three-pointer.
Alarie finished with 22 points and eight rebounds, while Littlefield added 10 points, seven assists, six rebounds and two steals. Julia Cunningham was the fourth Tiger in double digits with 14 points.
Dartmouth (1-0) 72 vs Vermont (0-1) 55
The Big Green, down 28-25 at halftime, used a huge second half to pull away from Vermont by 17 in the opener for both New England teams.
Dartmouth shot only 37% from the field, including 11% from three (1-for-9) in the opening two quarters. In the third, they hit 61% overall and 50% from beyond the arc on their way to a 27-point effort. They did even better in the fourth, shooting 64 and 67%, respectively.
Defensively, the Green held the Catamounts to 30% from the field over the final 20 minutes. More importantly, Vermont, which hit five threes at a 50% rate in the first half, only made two baskets on 12 percent shooting the rest of the way.
Four players scored in double figures for the Green, with junior forward Anne Luce leading the way with 20 on 9-for-11 shooting. Senior point guard Annie McKenna added 15 points and five assists, while Paula Lenart had 13 points (6-for-7 from the field) and a team-high eight rebounds.
Columbia (0-1) 78 at Albany (1-0) 82 (OT)
The Lions, down by six to Albany at the half, used a 26-point third quarter to take a 54-49 lead into the closing frame. The Great Danes opened the fourth quarter on a 9-0 run to reclaim the advantage and extended its lead to six with three minutes left in regulation.
Sophomore Hannah Pratt and first-year Kaitlyn Davis, both making their debuts for Columbia, closed out the quarter on an 11-5 run to tie the game at 73.
Janiya Clemmons made the first basket of overtime, but Albany would score seven of the next eight points to take a 80-76 lead with just over a minute to go. A Davis jumper cut the deficit to two with 40 seconds left. The Lions got the ball back with a chance to tie, but Sienna Durr and Pratt both missed layups in the last five seconds that would have sent the game into double overtime.
With the Lions missing Riley Casey, its best three point shooter, and struggling from the outside (three three-pointers with 19% shooting), Columbia looked to focus the game inside the arc. On the offensive side, the Lions made 32 of 35 of their baskets from two on 47% shooting. Defensively, they held a plus-18 total and plus-19% advantage on the glass, but they did allow the Danes to shoot 54 percent from two and get to the free throw line 19 times.
Clemmons, a senior co-captain, was her dependable self with 12 points and eight rebounds, but the surprise came from the Lions newest starters. With a team-high 23 points (10-for-15 shooting) and a game-high 13 rebounds (eight offensive), Davis may have had the most impressive conference debut. Pratt, who missed her first year due to injury, finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds. The third member of this group, first-year Abbey Hsu, added 13 points on 6-for-12 shooting.
Brown (0-1) 44 vs Bryant (1-0) 45
Brown, which graduated four of its five starters from last year, entered the game without the services of Justine Gaziano, the Ivy League’s second leading scorer in 2019. With those five players accounting for 82% of last season’s offense, it was no surprise that buckets were scarce for the Bears.
Bruno opened up a two-point halftime lead, 26-24, on the strength of rookie Lexi Love’s eight points (3-for-4, including 2-for-2 from three) and six each from junior McKenna Dale and sophomore Maddie Mullins. The third quarter was a challenge for both teams as they combined for only 15 points.
Down 33-32 at the start of the fourth quarter, Brown regained the lead on a Fiona Finn fast-break layup with 6:30 to go in regulation. The Bulldogs went ahead on the next possession and extended it to five, matching its largest lead of the night.
A three pointer from Dale made it a one-point game with 1:20 remaining, but missed two free throws and a turnover in the last 40 seconds to seal the team’s fate.
For the game, the rebuilding Bears shot only 39% from two, 24% from three and 0-for-7 from the free throw line. Dale, who played her first game after missing all of 2018-19 to injury, led the team with nine points. Brown, which had been working on improving its defense, held Bryant to 28% shooting and an 0-for-22 night from beyond the arc.
Yale (0-0) 33 vs Providence (0-0) 42
Yale was without Tori Andrew, its best three-point shooter, but it did have Ellen Margaret Andrews, who missed all but the first five game of last season due to injury.
Providence was up 20-16 after the first quarter. The Friars extended the lead to 38-22 in the second, but the Bulldogs cut the Friars lead to seven, 40-33, with 30 seconds left in the half. The Friars added a baseline jumper at the buzzer to go into the locker room with a nine-point advantage,
The Bulldogs made seven two pointers (26%), two three pointers (40%) and 13 free throws (68 percent). Alex Cade came off the bench to lead the team with 21 points (3-for-8 from field, 6-for-8 from the foul line). Senior guard Roxy Barahman, the 2018-19 Ivy League scoring champion, finished the first half with only two points (0-for-6 from the field, 2-for-2 from the foul line). Sophomore center Camilla Emsbo had two points and three fouls. in only three minutes of action.
Yale allowed Providence to shoot 71% from two and 42 percent from three. The Bulldogs kept themselves in the game by dominating the boards with a plus-21 percent advantage.
The game was suspended at halftime due to a problem with the scoreboard. According to Providence Athletics, “The two schools will work together to find a mutually agreed upon date to complete the final 20 minutes of play.”