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:
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.
Princeton (0-2 This week; 1-3 overall)
vs Seton Hall 66-70
at Penn State 71-79 (OT)
Even with their starting lineup absences, the Tigers just missed sweeping two major conference foes this week. Against Seton Hall, Princeton came back from an 18 point third quarter deficit to hold a 66-59 point advantage with 2:15 left in the game. Unfortunately, the Orange & Black went scoreless the rest of the way, as the Pirates finished on an 11-0 run. The Tigers were also up 7 against Penn State with 2:42 left in regulation, but the Nittany Lions went on a 9-2 run to tie the game at 63. In the extra session, Princeton could only manage 1 field goal in 10 attempts as they went down to their third straight defeat.
Despite the losses, Princeton received improved play from first-year starters Grace Stone (13 points and 7 rebounds in 36 minutes vs PSU), and Kira Emsbo (6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 blocks in 12 minutes vs PSU), a 6′ 5″ forward who missed her senior season due to a ACL tear. A Thanksgiving tournament in Cancun against DePaul (#15), Syracuse (#18) and Kansas State should continue to give the younger Tigers more experience and make the whole team stronger by the time Bella Alarie, Taylor Baur and Qalea Ismail return from the DL.
In case you missed it, Yale women’s basketball assistant coach and Play BOLD co-founder Melissa D’Amico encapsulated the noble endeavor that is Play BOLD into a telling blog post last week.
A nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering communities by mobilizing people and resources on international missions to the most disadvantaged areas of the world, Play BOLD was the vehicle for Ivy women’s basketball players Alexandra Maund (Yale), McKenna Dale (Brown), Melissa Heath (Brown), Dominique Leonidas (Brown), and Eleah Parker (Penn) and 11 others to teach and learn in Eldoret, Kenya, where they taught hoops to underprivileged pupils on grass courts with no nets.
“I have learned that joy transcends material possessions, clean water and full stomachs,” Maund wrote.
Wed., Jan. 24
Penn 74 at Temple 59
Fri., Jan. 26
Harvard 97 vs Yale 73
Dartmouth 78 vs Brown 73
Sat., Jan. 27
Columbia 72 at Cornell 54
Harvard 87 vs Brown 85
Yale 57 at Dartmouth 39
Sun., Jan. 28
Penn 89 vs Gwynedd Mercy (Division III) 25
1. Princeton (10-3)
Win – vs UMBC, 77-40
Even with the starters only playing half a game, Princeton dominated UMBC for its fourth straight victory. The Tigers, who sit at No. 6 in the College Insider Top 25 Mid-Major poll, finished one of the nation’s hardest nonconference schedules with signature wins over Chattanooga, Quinnipiac and Seton Hall, as well as a near upset of Top 25 Villanova.
4. Brown Bears (‘16-’17 record: 17-13, 7-7 Ivy; tied for fourth; Ivy Tournament semifinalist; lost in second Round of WBI)
Coach Sarah Behn (fourth season; 19th season overall)
Captains: Megan Reilly (senior guard) and Erika Steeves (junior forward)
Key Returning Players:
Justine Gaziano (sophomore guard) – 22 starts, 16.5 ppg, 47.5 percent field-goal percentage, 80 percent free-throw percentage, 35 made three-pointers
Shayna Mehta (junior guard) – 30 starts, 15.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 39.2 percent three-point percentage, 62 made three-pointers, 58 steals
Abby O’Keefe (Guard) – five starts, 17.7 mpg, 4.6 ppg, 19 made three-pointers
McKenna Dale (guard) – Connecticut Gatorade POY; 1,792 points, 747 rebounds, 264 steals, 162 blocks in career
Dominique Leonidas (Guard) – first team all-state (Ga.); 1,000-plus career points
IHO Brown schedule breakdown here
Gaziano and Mehta were both in the top five in scoring and named members of the All-Ivy second team. In her rookie season, Gaziano was in the top 10 of five offensive categories, while Mehta, the 2015-16 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, was in the top 15 for eight offensive and defensive statistics. Steeves, the league’s top total rebounder, was in the conference’s top 15 for six offensive and defensive categories. Will was in the top 10 for five statistics.
Prior to the 2016-17 season, the Brown women’s basketball team was picked seventh in the Ivy League media poll. Despite three league wins in 2015-16 and a youthful roster that did not have any seniors, the Bears ended up with a 17-13 record (7-7 Ivy), a fourth-place tie in the conference, a slot in the inaugural Ivy Tournament, and a first-ever postseason victory with a win over UMBC in the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) Tournament. With the loss of only one player, Brown will look to establish itself as a first-division team, challenge the Big Three for conference dominance, and achieve greater post-season success.