Ivy women’s week in review – Dec. 16, 2017

1. Princeton (6-3)

Win – at Quinnipiac, 60-46

Loss – at Rutgers, 70-50

In the second of a six game road trip, the Tigers visited Quinnipiac on Saturday afternoon and soundly defeated a Bobcat team that made it to the Sweet Sixteen in last year’s NCAA Tournament.  Despite falling behind by six and not scoring a point in the first 5:21 of the game, Princeton rallied to take a three point lead after the first quarter.  Down 6 heading into the final frame, the Bobcats used a 9-2 run to take a one point lead with 7:13 to go.  The Orange & Black responded by outscoring Quinnipiac 17-2 the rest of the way for the victory.  Bella Alarie and Leslie Robinson each posted 16 points and 11 rebounds to lead the way.  The Tigers won the game with strong defense, limiting the Bobcats to 19 percent three-point shooting and 36 percent two-point shooting while outrebounding them by 11 percent.

On Wednesday night, the Tigers took the short trip up Route 1 to visit in-state rival Rutgers.  The Scarlet Knights lost last year’s matchup by 30, due in part to the absence of Tyler Scaife, a second-team All Big-Ten guard who missed the ’16-’17 season recovering from open heart surgery.  With the fourth-leading scorer in the Big Ten putting up 24 points, Rutgers led for all but 24 seconds in the revenge win.  Princeton was within nine with 1:32 left in the third quarter, before Rutgers went on a 14-0 run over the next 8:14 to put the game out of reach.  Abby Meyers led the way for the Tigers with 11 points, six steals and five rebounds. Sydney Jordan scored 11 points, while Alarie added 10 points and six rebounds.

On the season, Princeton’s offense is in the middle of the pack for the conference, but its defense is its calling card.  The Tigers are holding opponents to 41.9 percent shooting from two, 29.5 percent from three and only four made threes a game.

2. Brown (9-1)

Win – at Colgate, 83-73

Brown traveled to upstate New York to take on a 4-5 Colgate team that had lost by 26 at Yale and hung on for a four point win at Cornell earlier this season.  Despite being down 14 points in the first seven minutes of the opening quarter, the Red Raiders took a 22-21 lead with 7:25 to go in the half.  The Bears bounced back to build a 10-point lead with 6:28 to go in the third.  Colgate again recovered to make it a two point deficit, 55-53, with 1:38 left in that frame.  Brown went on one more run, going 10-0 over the next 3:12, but Colgate did not have any more answers.  Shayna Mehta led four double digit scorers with a game high 28 points.  The junior guard became the program’s 20th 1,000 point scorer and the fifth to do it before her senior year.  Janie White had 13 points, 11 rebounds, and six blocks in the winning effort. As a team, the Bears shot 53 percent from two and 34 percent from three, including 11 made three-pointers.

With three of the team’s guards in the top four in league scoring, the Bears’ offense has become more guard-oriented this season.  Compared to the first 10 games from last year, there has been an improvement in points (+6.5), overall shooting (+1.8 percent), made three-pointers (+2.1), assists (+3.1) and turnovers (-1.4).  The team has focused more on the three point jumper, taking 9.1 more than it did in the fall of 2016.  However, the increased attempts have resulted in a 4.6 percent decline in outside shooting percentage, as well as 6.5 less free throw attempts and 4.8 less made free throws.  More attention was going to be paid to the defensive side this season, however, a 1.8 percent decline in opponent’s three-point shooting rate and a 2.0 per game increase in blocks are the only metrics that have significantly improved from the beginning of last season.

3. Penn (3-4)

Loss – vs. Notre Dame, 66-54

Win – vs. St. Joseph’s, 57-50

On Saturday afternoon, Penn welcomed No. 2 Notre Dame and its coach Muffet McGraw, a Big 5 graduate from St. Joseph’s, to the Palestra.  The Fighting Irish opened up a 12-point lead in the first 10:19, but the Quakers stayed close and managed to get within six points with 3:05 left in the third quarter.  Notre Dame outscored the Red & Blue 19-8 over the next nine minutes to pull away.  Despite the loss, there were a number of positives for Penn.  They were able to dictate tempo, secured 22 turnovers, and held Notre Dame to a season low of 66 points, five fewer than the Irish had against No. 1 UConn.  On the offensive side, Lauren Whitlatch scored a career high 18 points on 6-for-12 three-point shooting.  Also, first-year forward Eleah Parker scored 11 points on 44 percent shooting against the dominant Notre Dame frontcourt.

The Quakers traveled to the city rival St. Joseph’s on Monday night and came away with its first Big 5 win of the year and its first since defeating Temple on Jan. 21, 2016.  Penn held an eight-point lead at the half and stretched it to 11 after three quarters, but a 9-0 St. Joe’s run cut the lead to 45-43 with 6:09 remaining.  Michelle Nwokedi scored five points, including her first three of the year, and Parker added a layup, while the Quakers held the Hawks scoreless over the next 4:19 to create enough breathing room for the win.  Parker had a career night with 15 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.  This was her third straight game with double-digit scoring.  Nwokedi added 14 points, four rebounds and three assists.

With three games to go before opening league play against Princeton, the Quakers are still a work in progress.  Their offense is last in the league for shooting percentage (35.1) and assists (12.3); seventh for points (59.6); and sixth in made three pointers (6.0), three point percentage (29.4 percent), and free throw percentage (71.9 percent). They are doing better defensively, where they are second in blocks (5.0); third in three pointers allowed (5.3) and turnovers (16.9; 20.0 in its last four games); fourth in points allowed (61.4); and fifth in steals (6.9) and shooting rate (40.7 percent). Penn will look to ignite the offense while building on its defensive success when it faces Rhode Island (2-8), VCU (1-7) and either NJIT (1-11) or Long Beach State (2-7) at the end of December.

4. Yale (7-3)

Win – at Central Connecticut State, 75-62

Win – at St. Peter’s, 70-49

Following back-to-back overtime games, the Bulldogs comfortably beat CCSU and St. Peter’s in regulation to extend its winning streak to four games.  Leading by one after the first quarter against CCSU, Yale effectively put the game away with a 20-1 run over the first six-plus minutes of the second quarter.  The Blue Devils chipped away at the 23 point halftime lead, but never got closer than 10 points with thirty second left in the match.  Jen Berkowitz led the way with 16 points and 10 rebounds.  First-year forward Ellen Margaret Andrews scored a career high 14 points, while Tamara Simpson had 10 points and five steals.  The Bulldogs outrebounded CCSU by 18 and ended up taking 19 more shots on the day.

Yale and St. Peter’s played a close first half, before the Bulldogs pulled away late in the second quarter for an eight-point halftime lead.  The Peahens got the game to 42-40 with 5:35 to go in the third, but the Bulldogs went on a 21-2 run over the next 7:53 to coast to its fourth straight road win.  Simpson, the reigning Ivy Defensive Player of the Year, had seven steals to go along with her game-high 21 points (998 career).  Sophomore forward Bronwyn Davies came off the bench put up career highs of 23 minutes, six steals and six rebounds.  Defensively, Yale got 21 steals and 30 turnovers, while limiting St. Peter’s to 14 made two pointers on the night.

Averaging six made threes at a 26 percent rate, Yale’s high offensive output (71.2 points per game) has resulted from the strengths of its pressure defense (23.5 turnovers) and front court shooting (21.0 made two-pointers; 49 percent).  The Bulldogs will need to start getting help from the outside as they are getting close to playing top conference foes that are strong down low, more disciplined, and aware of Yale’s stealing prowess.

5. Harvard (5-4)

Did Not Play

6. Dartmouth (7-3)

Loss – vs Maine, 64-51

Win – at Colorado, 81-75
Loss – at #13 Ohio State, 103-70

The Big Green hosted its second straight America East opponent, when Maine arrived on Saturday.  Dartmouth was able to take charge late against New Hampshire for the upset win, but could not do so against the Black Bears.  After the fifth tie of the game near the end of the third quarter, Maine outscored Dartmouth 19-6 the rest of the way for the win.  Kate Letkewicz scored 15, Cy Lippold put in 12 and Isalys Quinones added 10 points.  The game may have ultimately been lost by the Big Green at the three point line, starting out 5-9 in the first 10 minutes and 1-15 the rest of the way.

On Monday night, Dartmouth started a five game road trip by visiting the 7-1 Colorado Buffaloes.  The Green & White reversed its fourth quarter fortunes from Saturday in putting together a dominant last 10 minutes for the program’s first ever victory over a member of the PAC-12.  Down seven heading into the last stanza, Dartmouth went 10-for-13 from two and 9-for-11 from the free throw line, while holding Colorado to 3-for-14 from the field.  Additionally, the Big Green had lost the rebounding edge in each of the first three quarters, but managed to go plus-6 in the fourth.  Lippold had a career high of 24 points on 9-for-18 shooting.  Letkewicz and Quinones added 16 and 12 points, respectively.

On Friday night, Dartmouth traveled to Columbus to take on No. 13 Ohio State.  The Big Green held a 19-13 lead, but a 9-0 run in the last minute gave the Buckeyes a three-point lead at the end of the first quarter.  Ohio State held a 12-point lead at the half before dominating the third quarter with a 20-0 run and extending its lead to 42 with 5:22 to play in the game. Ohio native Andi Norman led the Big Green with 23 points and four assists, while Letkewicz had 22 points and six rebounds.  Paula Lenart played in place of an absent Quinones and had 13 rebounds.  The strength and speed of Ohio State was too much for Dartmouth, as the team only scored 11 two-pointers and committed 24 turnovers.  However, the Big Green did have 21 assists on 27 baskets and connected on a program record 16 threes.

Heading into the Ohio State game, Dartmouth had to be concerned about its recent three-point production.  In its first five games, Dartmouth averaged nine made threes and shot 41 percent.  In its prior 4 contests, where they had faced stronger competition, the team was averaging only 4.5 made threes at a 25 percent rate.  Fortunately, the Big Green continued to excel on defense, holding their opponents to 58.6 points on 38 percent overall and 24 percent three-point shooting.  While the Ohio State game can be considered an outlier, Dartmouth will look to see if Friday’s three-point production helps it return to early season form.  As important as its outside shooting needs to be, the Green & White will need Quinones back before the start of league play to maintain the team’s offensive and defensive strength down low.

7. Columbia (6-6)

Loss – vs Buffalo, 65-63

Win – vs Hofstra, 75-53

The Lions welcomed Buffalo to Levien Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.  The Bulls entered the contest No. 22 in RPI ratings, having already beaten Nebraska, Clemson and UNLV.  After a number of back-and-forth runs in the first half, Columbia managed to lead by five at halftime and eight with 8:42 to go in the final quarter.  Buffalo came back with a 15-3 run to take a four point lead at the 3:49 mark.  Two Camille Zimmerman free throws and a Janiya Clemmons jumper tied the game at 63 with 1:04 left.  The Lions got the ball back with 0:37 remaining, but could not get a good shot off in time.  After a timeout and Columbia foul on the midcourt inbounds, the Bulls took the ball out under the Lions basket with two seconds left.  On the inbounds, Zimmerman surprisingly left Buffalo’s Brittany Morrison under the basket to pick up a player already covered by forward Madison Pack and Morrison easily hit the unguarded layup for the win.

After a quick turnaround, the Lions faced Hofstra on Monday night. Despite dressing only seven players for the game, Hofstra managed to take a 32-31 lead at the half.  The Lions took advantage of the depleted Dutchmen in the second half, outscoring Hofstra 31-6 in the first 11:57 to open up a 24-point lead that they would never relinquish.  Zimmerman had 24 points and 10 rebounds for her 6th double-double of the year.  Riley Casey put up 16 points and three assists and Maya Sampleton added 12 points, four rebounds and three steals in the win.

Since returning from the Cancun Challenge, the Lions are 4-1.  Over those 5 games, Columbia has averaged 72 points, while allowing only 60.6.  They have limited opponents to 3.6 made threes on 18 percent outside shooting during this stretch, while averaging 7.4 made threes on 36 percent shooting themselves.  Casey has become a dependable second option to Zimmerman, averaging 13.6 points during this stretch and capturing the last two Ivy League Rookie of the Week awards.

Starting forward Josie Little, who missed the last half of 2016-17, returned to the lineup for the Cancun Challenge.  Unfortunately, she only played four games before returning to the injured list.  Without her, the Lions go from a three-forward lineup to only playing two in the frontcourt.  In the last four games she has missed, Columbia is plus-13 in total rebounds but minus-34 for points in the paint.  Last season, the Lions went 10-3 with Little in the lineup and 3-11 without her.  If Little is expected to miss extended time this year, the Lions are going to have to get more defensive results out of their depleted frontcourt.

8. Cornell (2-6)

Cornell got bested in overtime, 79-77, by Oakland at Newman Arena Saturday afternoon, despite holding a five-point lead with 1:52 to go in regulation. The Big Red enjoyed another top-flight performance from Samantha Widmann, who notched 28 points on 10-for-18 shooting, six rebounds and three steals in 38 minutes.

Ancient Eight’s Top Eight

Bella Alarie (sophomore forward, Princeton)

16 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 3 steals vs Quinnipiac
10 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal vs Rutgers
Ivy League Player of the Week

Riley Casey (first-year guard, Columbia)

18 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists vs Buffalo
16 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists vs Hofstra
Ivy League Rookie of the Week

Kate Letkewicz (senior guard, Dartmouth)

15 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals vs Maine
16 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block vs Colorado
22 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, vs Ohio State

Cy Lippold (junior guard, Dartmouth)

12 points,  2 rebounds, 4 assists vs Maine
24 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals vs Colorado
7 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists vs Ohio State

Shayna Mehta (junior guard, Brown)

28 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists vs Colgate

Eleah Parker (first-year forward, Penn)

10 points, 4 rebounds, 1 block, 2 steals vs Notre Dame
15 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 blocks, 2 steals vs St. Joe’s

Tamara Simpson (senior guard, Yale)

10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 steals vs CCSU
21 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 7 steals vs St. Peter’s

Camille Zimmerman (senior forward, Columbia)

28 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, 1 steal vs Buffalo
24 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, 2 steals vs Hofstra