What each Ivy women’s team’s fans should be thankful for this Thanksgiving season

It’s Thanksgiving weekend, which means it’s time to take stock of what followers of each Ivy women’s team should be thankful for at this point of the season:

BROWN – Bears getting healthy: Brown has lost three of its last four games, including an 86-76 loss at Longwood (selected to finish 10th in the 11-team Big South), a startling 95-42 loss at Massachusetts (selected to finish eighth in the 14-team A10) and a 72-57 loss at home to Merrimack in its first season as Division I school Tuesday.

But Brown fans still have plenty to be thankful for. Junior guard McKenna Dale is back after missing her sophomore year with injury, pitching in 6.7 points and 3.9 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per game. Dale registered 12 points and six boards in Brown’s win at New Hampshire last Sunday, and she hasn’t been alone in bouncing back from injury.

Sophomore forward Ashley Ducharme, who missed her rookie season due to injury, posted a career-high 10 points against Merrimack and is averaging 3.9 points and 3.6 rebounds in 14 minutes per game.

Here’s something more important than basketball from Brown Athletics: Brown is holding the MEGA Disposal Holiday Food Drive through Monday with all proceeds benefiting Good Neighbors Soup Kitchen, Food Pantry, and Day Shelter in East Providence. MEGA Disposal-branded donation bins are be located in the lobbies of both the Pizzitola Sports Center and the Nelson Fitness Center. Good Neighbors accepts all non-perishable food items with a preference for the following high-demand items: tuna, canned chicken, peanut butter, jelly, cereal, and shelf-stable milk. MEGA Disposal will deliver all donations to Good Neighbors at the conclusion of the food drive.

COLUMBIA – Playing bigger: The Lions are, as Columbia Athletics noted in a recent release, “getting big.”

As Columbia Athletics pointed out, the Lions have greatly improved in rebounding and blocked shots compared to this point last season. Through six games, the Lions ranked among the NCAA’s top 80 in blocks (4.2), 72nd in rebounds (43.33) and 61st in rebound margin (+6.8). Through six games last season, the Lions ranked 220th in rebounds (36.83), 292nd in rebound margin (-6.0) and 315th in blocked shots (1.5).

Columbia played big in a big 74-46 win over Milwaukee at Levien Gym Saturday, hauling in 39 rebounds (11 offensive). Rookie guard Abbey Hsu was not one of the five Lions scoring in double figures (led by senior guard Janiya Clemmons and sophomore forward Hannah Pratt at 13 each), but Hsu did grab 12 boards. Columbia ranked last in the Ivy League in blocks last season and next to last in both offensive and defensive rebounding. If the Lions can hold their own on the boards and in rim protection in Ivy play, their offensive firepower could take them far.

CORNELL – Having an identity: Sometimes it’s useful to step back and appreciate programs that put a premium on defensive intensity and eschew living and dying by three-pointers in favor of taking high-percentage shots.

Cornell, clearly, is one of those programs, and it works for the Big Red.

A season after the Big Red beat the odds to make the Ivy League Tournament with one of the Ivy League’s best defenses, Dayna Smith’s players are again looking tough.

Cornell boasts the best field goal percentage (47.4%) in the Ivy League through seven games, the league’s largest rebounding margin and highest offensive rebound percentage. The Big Red rank second in assists per game and rank third in steals. Those rankings reflect a squad with sound shot selection, an aggressive defense that looks to impose its will and shares the rock efficiently on offense. Senior forward Laura Bagwell-Katalinich, senior guard/forward Samantha Widmann, junior guard Kate Sramac and impressive first-year guard Shannon Mulroy comprise a formidable core.

DARTMOUTH – Rest: Dartmouth fans can be thankful their team hasn’t played since Nov. 17 and should be well-rested for its matchup at Manhattan Sunday. There’s not much new to report in this space, but the Big Green’s defense has been strong through three games, allowing 52.7 points per game, second-stingiest in the league behind only Penn.

HARVARD – Lola Mullaney is back to business: After missing two games due to injury, rookie guard Lola Mullaney has picked up where she left off. Having notched 17 points in a 74-46 loss at Rutgers and six on an off night against Hartford, she led the Crimson with 18 points in a 66-39 romp over Boston University Nov. 22 courtesy of six three-point makes on 10 attempts (out of 11 field goal tries in total). Mullaney followed that up with 24 points, this time including five three-pointers, in the Crimson’s 77-68 win at Quinnipiac Saturday. Mullaney has softened the blow of losing Katie Benzan’s outside shooting, accounting for 26.8% of the Crimson’s scoring per game herself. That’s not to say that Mullaney is carrying this team by any stretch. Senior forward Jeannie Boehm was one of two players averaging a double-double through seven games (Yale’s Camilla Emsbo was the other) at 10.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. But Mullaney has firmly established herself as the focal point of the Crimson offense.

PENN – Kayla Padilla’s gangbusters start: Five games into her collegiate career, guard Kayla Padilla is a cut above. Padilla leads the Ivy League in scoring at 18 points per game and ranks second in three-point field goals made (behind Mullaney), third in free throw percentage (76.5%), fifth in three-point percentage (37.1%) and eighth in assists per game (3.2). Padilla has earned coach Mike McLaughlin’s trust, leading the team in minutes (31.4 per game) and, remarkably for a first-year, ranks second in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio. Padilla scored 15 of Penn’s 50 points in its 66-50 loss at Duke Friday, a game in which the Red & Blue trailed Duke 49-44 entering the fourth quarter and forced 19 turnovers. Penn’s defense seems to be best in the Ivy League again, and it’s not hard to envision Padilla being the offensive weapon that can push Penn over the top in race for the conference title.

PRINCETON – Taylor Baur’s production: On a roster that includes two-time reigning Ivy Player of the Year Bella Alarie and All-Ivy first-teamer Carlie Littlefield, senior forward Taylor Baur is easy to overlook. But Princeton fans should be thankful for what she’s brought to the Tigers so far this season. In Princeton’s 52-40 win over Monmouth last Sunday, Baur tied the team high in points with 12 and added 10 rebounds, three blocks, two assists and two steals in just 23 minutes. Baur is averaging 8.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game and leads the Ivy League in free-throw percentage at a stellar 88.2%. Baur’s game is well-rounded, as she ranks fifth in the conference in blocks per game (1.3) and fourth in offensive rebounds while also registering 1.2 steals per contest. Not bad for only having started two games prior to her senior campaign. Now Baur, a team captain along with Alarie, is making the most of her time in the starting lineup and could be the difference for the Tigers in the hunt for another Ivy League championship.

YALE – Ellen Margaret Andrews revving up in her return from injury: Junior guard Ellen Margaret Andrews started the first five games of last season before suffering a season-ending injury. Andrews scored 37 points combined in Yale’s two wins Friday and Saturday over Fresno State and Loyola Marymount respectively in the LMU Thanksgiving Classic, including 22 to go along with three steals and three boards in the win over LMU. Andrews notched 15 points, six steals and five rebounds in 32 minutes in Yale’s 87-67 win over Fresno State in a battle of the Bulldogs and is a stat sheet-stuffer, averaging 12.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.3 steals (third best in the league behind only Sramac and Littlefield). Andrews may not be on the radar of Ivy hoops fans as much as Roxy Barahman or Camilla Emsbo, but the versatility that she’s shown since her return is definitely worth noting. Also of note is the 6-foot-5 Emsbo was the LMU Thanksgiving Classic tournament MVP, well-earned especially after her 26-point, 17-rebound performance against Fresno State, feasting upon a squad with five starters 6-foot-1 or shorter. Barahman was named first-team all-tournament as well.

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