Ivy women’s basketball weekend in review – Feb. 23-24, 2018

Fri., Feb. 23
Columbia 90 at Brown 74
Yale 69 vs Cornell 56
Harvard 55 vs Penn 52
Princeton 79 vs Dartmouth 67

Sat., Feb., 24
Brown 85 vs Cornell 59
Penn 79 at Dartmouth 50
Yale 66 vs Columbia 59
Harvard 72 vs Princeton 58

1st – Princeton (10-2 Ivy; 20-5 Overall)
2nd – Penn (9-3 Ivy; 18-7 Overall)
Tie 3rd – Harvard (8-4 Ivy; 16-9 Overall)
Tie 3rd – Yale (8-4 Ivy; 15-10 Overall)
5th – Dartmouth (6-6 Ivy; 14-11 Overall)
6th – Brown (3-9 Ivy; 15-10 Overall)
7th – Columbia (2-10 Ivy; 8-19 Overall)
8th – Cornell (2-10 Ivy; 6-19 Overall)

Even though no team had clinched a spot in the Ivy Tournament heading into the weekend, the conventional wisdom had Princeton and Penn securing spots in the league’s final four while Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth would continue to battle for the third and fourth spots.  By late Saturday night, though, the Bulldogs engineered a fourth-quarter comeback against Columbia and the Crimson completed a surprising sweep of the conference front runners to lock up the last two spots for Ivy Madness.

Princeton earned the first spot in the Ivy Tournament after defeating Dartmouth on Friday night.  The Tigers opened up a 13-point halftime lead on the strength of its shooting (69 percent from two; seven three-pointers at 41 percent).  While only hitting two three-pointers in the second half, they shot 14 of 16 from two prevent the Big Green from staging another fourth-quarter comeback.

With 7:30 left in the fourth quarter on Friday night, Yale found itself only up one against 2-8 Cornell as Jen Berkowitz and Roxy Barahman were on the bench with four fouls each.  The Bulldogs, led by the offense of senior guard Tamara Simpson and defense of first year reserve Alex Cade, closed the game on a 15-3 run and reduced their magic number to two.

Harvard jumped out to a 27-12 lead in the first 10:45 of action against Penn.  The Quakers shut the Crimson down over the last 5:07 of the half to cut the lead to three at the break.  The game was tied at 43 with eight minutes to go when Harvard went on a 7-0 run.  Penn then hit three of its next four three-pointers, after going three for its first 15, to make it a three-point game with 16 seconds left.  The Red & Blue stole the ball with nine seconds left, but Anna Ross could not connect on a game-tying three at the buzzer.  Harvard’s win, coupled with Dartmouth’s loss, reduced its magic number to two.

In the one Friday game that had no bearing on the Ivy Tournament, Columbia visited Brown and beat the Bears for the first time in its last six meetings.  The Lions hit 11 threes at a 50 percent rate, while placing five scorers in double figures.  First-year guard Imani Whittington put up a career high 17 points, while Camille Zimmerman led the Light Blue with 23 points and 16 rebounds.  The senior forward finished the game with 903 career boards, second in program history.  Guards Shayna Mehta scored 22 and Justine Gaziano had 20 to pace the Bears, but Brown was outrebounded by 11 and outscored in the paint by eight.

On Saturday night, the Lions looked for a weekend sweep as they found themselves up 15 with 12:25 to go in the game against Yale.  The Bulldogs, which had lost a 16-point lead to Dartmouth with just over 11 minutes left in regulation last week, learned from its previous mistake and went on a 18-5 run over the next 6:45 to take a 55-53 lead.  Back-to-back three-pointers from the Lions’ Madison Pack tied the game at 59 with 2;43 left, but the Elis held Columbia scoreless the rest of the way to punch their ticket to the Palestra.  For Columbia, Zimmerman finished with 18 points on the night and 1,937 for her career, moving her past Dartmouth’s Gail Koziara Boudreaux for fifth-place on the Ivy League’s all-time scoring list.

While the game in New Haven was being played, Penn had a strong bounceback performance in Hanover.  The Quakers opened up a 15-point lead after 10 minutes and 25 after two quarters, as they cruised to an eventual 29-point victory.  The Red & Blue allowed 11 three-pointers at a 44 percent rate, but held the overmatched Dartmouth frontcourt to only six two pointers at a 25 percent rate.  Penn kept pace with the league’s best three point shooting team, hitting 10 threes at a 37 percent rate, and dominated inside the arc with 21 baskets on 60 percent shooting.  At the final whistle, the Quakers had clinched a place in the Ivy Tournament, and Dartmouth had its elimination number down to one.

The Crimson and Tigers struggled to put up points in the first half at Lavietes Pavilion, finishing with a 25-23 advantage for the home team.  Harvard’s offense came to life in the second half, scoring 47 points on 70 percent shooting from three and 57 percent from two, as they opened up a 21-point late fourth-quarter lead.  The Tigers were held without a double digit scorer and were limited to just two three-pointers on 22 percent shooting in that same time.  With the win, Harvard completed its first sweep of the Ps since 2013 and its first-ever 12-0 home record, while earning the last spot in this year’s conference tournament.

Earlier Saturday evening, Brown looked like the team that went 12-1 in nonconference play as it beat Cornell by 26 points.  Gaziano scored a season-high 30 points on 71 percent shooting, while Mehta added 28 points at a 75 percent rate.  Senior center Janie White had eight points and five assists to go along with game high 13 rebounds and four blocks.  She leads the Ivy League and has the program’s second-best single-season mark with 76 blocks.  Her 201 career rejections are ninth all-time in the Ancient Eight.  The Bears also had their best defensive effort in league play, holding the Big Red to 59 points, one three-pointer and 26 percent overall shooting.

Although the four teams are set for the Ivy Tournament, the actual positions are still up in the air.  As a result, six of the eight games this weekend have playoff implications.  The Tigers have the most likely chance of earning an unshared regular season championship, but Penn can also find a way to claim a solo three-peat.  There are also several paths where two, three or four teams can share in the conference title.  While Princeton has the most straightforward path to the number one seed for the upcoming tournament, there are scenarios that could lead to Penn and Yale claiming the top spot.

For those interested in searching out the various possibilities, check out the Yale Undergraduate Sports Analytics Group’s Ivy League Tie Breaker App and the Daily Pennsylvanian’s Ivy League Basketball Standings Scenarios.

Upcoming Games

Fri., Mar. 2
Harvard at Cornell 6:00 pm
Brown at Princeton 7:00 pm
Dartmouth at Columbia 7:00 pm
Yale at Penn 7:00 pm

Sat., Mar. 3
Yale at Princeton 5:00 pm
Brown at Penn 6:00 pm
Dartmouth at Cornell 6:00 pm
Harvard at Columbia 7:00 pm