Another week full of Ivy news, with none bigger than Courtney Banghart’s move from Princeton to North Carolina. The former Big Green All-Ivy guard and Tigers head coach signed a five-year contract to take over a Tar Heels program that needs a new start. Per Jeff Gravely of WRAL in Raleigh, Banghart’s contract starts at $650,000 in 2019-2020 and increases to $730,000 in 2024-2025. Athletic and academic bonuses are included that can increase the yearly salary by $10,000 to $470,000.
Princeton (1-1 This week; 1-1 Overall)
The Tigers did not miss Leslie Robinson (graduation), Bella Alarie (injury), Abby Meyers (academic suspension), and Qalea Ismail (injury) on Tuesday, beating the Broncs 89-65 at Jadwin. The Orange & Black, led by 25 points from Gabrielle Rush, 16 from Carlie Littlefield and 10 from Taylor Baur, shot 47 percent from three and 59 percent from two.
Things were completely different at George Washington, when Princeton arrived with Baur added to the injured list. The Tigers, who beat the Colonials by 20 one year ago, could not get anything going offensively, eventually falling by a score of 64-49. For the afternoon, the Tigers only shot 18 percent from beyond the arc and 42 percent from two. Sophomore McKenna Haire came off the bench to lead the Tigers with 13 points, followed by 12 from first-year starter Julia Cunningham.
The Princeton women’s team finished the 2017-2018 season 24-6 overall and 12-2 in the Ivy League. They opened up conference play with a 70-55 victory at the Palestra over two-time defending champion Penn and never looked back on their way to the regular season title. They dominated Yale and Penn in the Ivy Tournament to claim the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, their seventh appearance in the last nine years. Their magical season ended in a first round loss to the University of Maryland, the nation’s #16 team.
The Tigers had the Ivy League Player of the Year in sophomore forward Bella Alarie, who averaged 13.4 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 2.3 assists per game. Alarie, the league’s Rookie of the Year and a first team All-Ivy member in 2016-2017, was joined on this year’s first team by senior forward Leslie Robinson. Robinson, who was selected to last year’s second team All-Ivy, finished the season averaging 10.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per contest.
Courtney Banghart was named the Ivy League Coach of the Year for the second time in her career and the first time since she led the school to an undefeated 30-0 regular season record in 2014-2015. The former two-time first team All-Ivy Dartmouth guard completed this year with her sixth regular season Ivy championship, eighth 20-plus win season and eighth 11-plus conference win season in her 11th year at Old Nassau.
Princeton last faced Maryland at College Park in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament, losing to the Terrapins for its first and only defeat of the year. Playing at a neutral site in North Carolina, the No. 12-seeded Tigers not only entertained thoughts of a revenge victory against Maryland, but a possible second round win against N.C. State or Elon. Unfortunately for the Orange & Black, the No. 5-seeded Terrapins (No. 16 nationally) had other ideas, ending the Tigers’ season for the second time in four years with a convincing 77-57 victory.
The Tigers could not control the tempo or the boards against the Terrapins, especially in the early parts of both halves. In the opening 10 minutes, Maryland only shot 27 percent from two and 38 percent from three, but the Terrapins outrebounded Princeton by 52 percent and got seven more attempts in the quarter to open a 17-11 lead. The Tigers, who got pushed away from the basket through most of the first half, finally broke through in the second quarter, hitting five of 10 two-pointers while their defense held the Terrapins without a three to go into the locker room only down 31-26.
On Sunday evening, the Princeton women dominated the Penn Quakers, 63-34, to complete a three-game season sweep of the two-time defending champions, taking the League Ivy Tournament title and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Coupled with their strong performance against Yale on Saturday night, Courtney Banghart’s squad left no doubt in showing which team is the Ancient Eight’s best.
Like they did against the Bulldogs, the Orange & Black were aggressive from the start. Sydney Jordan hit a layup 49 seconds into the game and that was the beginning of the end for Penn. The Tigers went out to an 8-0 lead before Michelle Nwokedi hit a three-pointer at the 5:55 mark. Princeton’s Abby Meyers came off the bench to score the next 11 points to open a commanding 19-3 lead at the end of the opening frame. The Tigers defensive intensity led them to a 16-6 rebounding advantage as they held Penn to a 1-for-14 performance from the field.
In the teams’ first two matchups, Yale came out of the gate quickly against Princeton, the Ivy League’s regular season champion. Tonight’s 78-57 Princeton win over the Bulldogs was a different story.
The No. 1 Tigers came out playing more aggressively and capitalized on early foul trouble for the Bulldogs’ Roxy Barahman to open up a nine-point first-half lead. No. 4 Yale managed to make it a five-point game with 4:59 to go in the first half, but three consecutive three-pointers from Carlie Littlefield and Tia Weledji upped the lead to 15 and the Tigers eventually went into the locker room up 39-23.
Not dissimilar from the NCAA Tournament, the Ivy held open shootarounds for the public and press conferences involving coaches and top players yesterday at the Palestra.
One could only wonder during the Yale men’s noon practice what could have been, with arguably the team’s two best players, Jordan Bruner and Makai Mason on the bench, injured and unable to play.
Coach James Jones summed up Mason by noting,”If Makai didn’t have bad luck,he wouldn’t have luck at all,” adding that Mason thinks he may have mono.
Princeton coach Courtney Banghart of Princeton was outspoken in her press conference about the tournament venue. She didn’t find it fully fair that a 1 seed could play a 2 seed on the 2 seed’s home floor, obviously alluding to a possible matchup with Penn on Sunday.
No. 4 Yale
15-12 Overall (7-5 Home; 8-5 Away; 0-2 Neutral)
8-6 Ivy (5-2 Home; 3-4 Away)
2-4 vs Ivy Tournament Teams (1-1 vs Princeton; 0-2 vs Penn; 1-1 vs Harvard)
RPI #125; Sagarin #135
Preseason Rank: #5
Projected Starters: Jen Berkowitz (Sr, C), Megan Gorman (So, F), Ellen Margaret Andrews (1st Yr, F/G), Tamara Simpson (Sr, G), Roxy Barahman (So, G)
Fri., Mar. 2
Princeton 79 vs Brown 44
Penn 64 vs Yale 52
Sat., Mar. 3
Dartmouth 88 at Columbia 77
Harvard 91 at Cornell 57
Penn 67 vs Brown 56
Princeton 64 vs Yale 53
Sun., Mar. 4
Harvard 78 at Columbia 59
Cornell 51 vs Dartmouth 49
As selected by Ivy Hoops Online’s contributors, here are the IHO 2017-18 All-Ivy Awards:
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Bella Alarie, Princeton (So., G/F – Bethesda, Md.)
Alarie efficiently wowed Ivy followers all season, anchoring a stingy Princeton defense while also gouging opponents offensively inside. The 2016-17 Ivy Rookie of the Year’s rebounding and shot-blocking prowess stood out all season, exploding for 13 points and six blocks in the second half alone in a crucial league-opening win at Penn and 29 points against Villanova, establishing herself further as a double-double threat every game despite opposing defenses keying on her.