Turns out it takes more than potential to beat Princeton.
Although missing out on a Ivy League championship three-peat, the Penn women’s team had another great year in 2017-2018. The Quakers (22-9 overall, 11-3 Ivy), which ended the season first in the Big Five, second in the Ancient Eight’s regular season and runner-up in the Ivy Tournament, finished with its fifth straight year of 20+ total wins and 11 or more league victories. While missing out on the NCAA Tournament, Penn beat Albany in the first round of the WNIT before losing 53-48 at St. John’s in the round of 32. The Red & Blue will enter the 2018-2019 season without 3/5th of its starting lineup, looking to reload as it attempts to get to the post season for the seventh straight year.
Penn had one of the top defenses in the nation, holding teams to 54.9 points a game with 35.4 percent shooting from the field and a 31.2 percent three point rate. The team averaged a conference best 5.8 blocks per game and 37.8 offensive rebounding percentage, while having the league’s second best defensive rebounding rate of 69.6 percent. The Quakers outscored its opponents by 10.6 points a game, but struggled with 38.3 percent shooting from the field (7th in the Ivy League) and 33.2 percent from three (4th in the IL). If Penn hopes to dethrone Princeton from the top spot, the team will need to maintain its traditional defensive intensity while improving its offensive efficiency.
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.
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.
The Princeton women (17-4, 7-1 Ivy) made a strong statement on the first night of league play, when they defeated two-time defending champion Penn (15-5, 6-2) at the Palestra, 70-55. After Tuesday night’s even more convincing 20-point blowout of the Quakers at Jadwin Gymnasium, the Tigers have put the rest of the conference on notice that they are the clear favorites to take the regular season and tournament titles.
Fri., Feb. 9
Princeton 80 vs Harvard 47
Penn 65 vs Dartmouth 47
Yale 73 at Columbia 50
Cornell 70 vs Brown 68
Sat., Feb. 10
Princeton 82 vs Dartmouth 63
Penn 69 vs Harvard 49
Yale 65 at Cornell 55
Brown 84 at Columbia 80
Tie 1st – Princeton (6-1 Ivy; 16-4 Overall)
Yale 77 vs Brown 63
Yale (8-6; 1-0 Ivy) opened up its march to Ivy Madness with a double digit victory over Brown (12-2; 0-1 Ivy) in a Friday matinee contest at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. After a poor shooting first quarter from both teams, Yale entered the second frame up 3 and stretched it to six at halftime. The Bears came out hot at the beginning of the third quarter, going on an 8-0 run over the first 1:36 to take a 39-37 lead. From there, the teams stayed close and were tied at 58 with 6:54 left in the fourth quarter. Two Tamara Simpson steals and layups in nine seconds sparked Yale to a 10-0 run that put the game out of reach.