No. 9 Princeton women’s basketball bows to No. 8 West Virginia in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament

No. 9 Princeton and No. 8 West Virginia tip off in their NCAA Tournament opening-round matchup Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. (Photo by Steve Silverman)

IOWA CITY, Iowa – No. 9 Princeton women’s basketball team ran into a buzzsaw in the first round of the 2024 women’s NCAA Tournament, falling to No. 8 West Virginia, 63-53, Saturday in Iowa City.

The loss ended an outstanding season for Princeton and marked the close of an era for a historic triumvirate of senior co-captains–Kailtyn Chen, Ellie Mitchell, and Chet Nweke–who led the program to new heights during their sensational careers at Old Nassau.

The Tigers (25-5, 15-1 Ivy) came into this contest against the Mountaineers (25-7, Big 12 13-7) filled with confidence and high hopes. And it first, it looked as though those hopes might be vindicated.

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LISTEN – Brian Earl leaves Cornell men’s basketball to coach William & Mary

Ivy Hoops Online contributor George “Toothless Tiger” Clark reports on Brian Earl departing Cornell men’s basketball after eight years as the program’s head coach to take the same job at William & Mary and reflects on what Earl has meant to Cornell, Princeton (as a former player and assistant coach) and the Ivy League:

NCAA Tournament Reporter’s Notebook: Controversy swirls on the eve of round one in Iowa City

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Greetings from Iowa City, Iowa, the heartland of girls and women’s basketball.  

Your faithful Ivy Hoops Online correspondent grew up in the Hawkeye State, so covering Princeton women’s basketball at this venue has been a nice homecoming for me.  In fact, the last time I visited Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City was for a Boston concert with a group of my high school buddies 45 years ago.  To be honest, I barely remember the concert, other than it was loud.

But one thing I remember clearly from those long ago days is how important girls’ high school basketball was to the state of Iowa. Back then, the girls’ game was quite different than today.  Each team played six players at a time, three on offense and three on defense, and neither the offensive nor the defensive players were allowed to cross the half-court line.  

Women’s basketball has come a long way since then, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the passion for the sport.  When I was growing up here, no event was more important to the people of Iowa than the girls’ high school basketball tournament, which took place every year at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in downtown Des Moines.  

Now, the chief passion in the state is Caitlin Clark and the University of Iowa women’s basketball team.  The No. 1 Hawkeyes kick off the first round of games here Saturday afternoon against the No. 16 Holy Cross Crusaders.  Later in the day, the No. 9 Princeton Tigers will face off against the No. 8 West Virginia Mountaineers.

Surrounded by photographers, Caitlin Clark walks down the hallway of Carver-Hawkeye Arena to a pregame press conference. (Photo by Steve Silverman)

How big of a circus is the Caitlin Clark show here in Iowa City?  So big, that a gaggle of cameramen and reporters from all over the nation this morning staked out the Iowa women’s locker room in the bowels of Carver-Hawkeye Arena just to get a glimpse of the star player as she walked down the hallway to the team’s pregame day press conference.  Then, after the player part of the press conference ended and it was time for coach Lisa Bluder to take questions from the media, nearly every reporter shuffled out of the room, leaving only yours truly and a couple of others to ask questions of the person who actually runs the team.

Here are some other impressions, news, and notes from Iowa City on the day before the round one games begin:

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No. 9 Princeton women’s basketball vs. No. 8 West Virginia – NCAA Tournament preview

Snow flurries fall upon the entrance to Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City Friday. (Photo by Steve Silverman)

IOWA CITY, Iowa – As the curtain rises on first-round games from Iowa City in the 2024 NCAA Tournament, all eyes will focus on Caitlin Clark and her No. 1 Iowa Hawkeyes.  Clark has ignited an explosion of interest in women’s college basketball with her electrifying shooting and record-breaking scoring.  

But there are three other teams competing in the Iowa City pod this weekend, including the No. 9 Princeton women’s basketball team (25-4, 15-1 Ivy), which begins play in No. 8 West Virginia Mountaineers (24-7, 13-7 Big 12).

Let’s take an in-depth look at how these two teams from vastly different places in the women’s college basketball landscape match up against each other:

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No. 13 Yale men’s basketball upsets No. 4 Auburn, 78-76, for second NCAA Tournament win in program history


“I don’t know if that was the best win in Yale basketball history, but I will tell you that’s the best basketball team that we’ve beaten in Yale basketball history, as far as I’m concerned.”

So reflected Yale coach James Jones after his No. 13-seeded Bulldogs pulled off a 78-76 upset of No. 4 Auburn for the ages in the NCAA Tournament Round of 64 Friday at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena in Spokane, Wash.

Auburn was a 12.5-point favorite, KenPom’s No. 4 team in the country and the SEC Tournament champion.

Yale (23-9, 13-3 Ivy) controlled tempo for most of the game and was as cool as its coach in crunch time.

Auburn (27-8, 16-5 SEC) was up 12-5 and in control early when junior guard/forward Chad Baker-Mazara was ejected at the 16:59 mark for a flagrant-two foul for an elbow to August Mahoney. Yale then went on an 8-2 run on treys from John Poulakidas and Mahoney to take an 18-16 lead.

Auburn took a 41-34 lead into halftime. Yale First Team All-Ivy selection Danny Wolf was held to two points on 1-for-8 shooting and the normally sure-handed Bulldogs had eight turnovers, five by Bez Mbeng, which led to 13 Tiger points.

Yale went on a 10-0 run early in the second half to grab a 44-43 lead on a Mahoney free throw. Poulakidas, who had a game-high 28 points, drained two treys in that stretch.

Auburn then went on a 10-2 run.

With Auburn leading 70-64, Poulakidas made a short jumper, and Matt Knowling and Wolf each went 2-for-2 from the charity stripe to knot the score at 70.

Wolf gave Yale a 75-72 lead on two free throws with 45 seconds remaining, and All-SEC first-team selection Johni Broome countered with two from the charity stripe to give Yale a 75-74 lead with :33 remaining as Wolf fouled out.

 August Mahoney was then fouled and canned two more foul shots to put Yale up 77-74.

 A subsequent 1-for-2 trip to the foul line by junior guard Yassine Gharram made it 78-74.

Auburn senior guard K.D. Johnson then drove to the basket, made a layup and was fouled by Yale first-year center Samson Aletan. He missed the free thrown and Auburn regained possession on a rebound tie-up.

Ivy Defensive Player of the Year Bez Mbeng fouled sophomore guard Tre Donaldson and he missed the free throw. Auburn missed a putback and Johnson missed a contested three as the buzzer went off and the euphoric Yale team ran onto the court to celebrate.

Mahoney called the win “a dream come true.”

A stifling Yale defense, keyed by Mbeng, forced nine Auburn turnovers in the second half.

Broome led Auburn with 24 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

Poulakidas delivered a performance to remember, hitting shots in clutch moments for a stat line of 28 points on 10-for-15 field-goal shooting, including 6-for-9 from three-point range, in 35 minutes, and two rebounds, assists and steals each. None of Poulakidas’ shots were bigger than a contested stepback three with 2:10 to play that gave the Bulldogs a 73-72 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Mahoney rung up 14 points and Wolf 13, 11 of which in the second half.

Yale will face No. 5 San Diego State, a 69-65 winner over No. 12 UAB, Sunday for the right to go to the Sweet 16 in Boston.

Yale was making its seventh NCAA Tournament appearance in program history and fourth under Jones in his 25th year helming the Bulldogs. The win is Yale’s second ever in the NCAA Tournament after it upset No. 5 Baylor as a No. 12 seed in 2016.

Vibes are HIGH in the Yale locker room #MarchMadness @YaleMBasketball pic.twitter.com/efcYBMpR17

— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 23, 2024

Yale’s win delivered the Ivy League its eighth men’s NCAA Tournament win since 2010 and third in the past two tournaments.

The Ivy League’s NCAA Tournament representative has won at least one tournament game in six of the Ivies’ last 13 appearances.

Columbia women’s basketball comeback falls just short, 72-68, in NCAA Tournament loss to Vanderbilt

The Columbia women’s basketball team didn’t defeat Vanderbilt in its first-ever NCAA appearance, but it made history and a lot of fans across the nation this week. (Photo by Columbia Athletics)

Columbia women’s basketball twice cut a 10-point second-half deficit to two, but the Lions couldn’t make that final push to get ahead of Vanderbilt and lost the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament game, 72-68, at the Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va. Wednesday evening.

Winning the First Four matchup between two No. 12 seeds, the Commodores move on to face No. 5 seed Baylor on Friday, while the historic Columbia season comes to a close.

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LISTEN: Princeton men’s basketball falls to UNLV, 84-77, in NIT opening round

Ivy Hoops Online contributor George “Toothless Tiger” Clark recaps an 84-77 loss for Princeton (24-5, 12-3 Ivy) versus UNLV (20-12, 12-7 Mountain West) at Jadwin Gym in the opening round of the NIT to end the Tigers’ season:

Q&A with Yale men’s basketball coach James Jones

James Jones is about to coach his fifth NCAA Tournament game. (James Jones’s Twitter page)

Yale men’s basketball coach James Jones is preparing to coach his fifth NCAA Tournament game after his team won the Ivy League Tournament in dramatic fashion Monday.

Yale’s Big Dance foe this time around is Auburn, with Yale allotted a No. 13 seed in the East Region and playing in Spokane, Wash.

Jones sat down with Ivy Hoops Online Tuesday in advance of its last practice in New Haven before departing on an NCAA charter flight. The Bulldogs, like all NCAA Tournament teams, were allotted 350 tickets and expect to have many fans present from Los Angeles and the Pacific Northwest Yale Club. Yale played in Spokane in November at Gonzaga, losing 86-71.

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Cornell men’s basketball season ends in 88-83 loss at Ohio State in NIT

Two days removed from earning its first-ever bid to the National Invitational Tournament, Cornell men’s basketball had Ohio State on the ropes. Each team took swings with double-figure leads, but with a minute remaining, the Big Red led by two.

Fifth-year forward Jamison Battle knocked down a three with 43 seconds remaining, putting the Buckeyes up 82-81. Then came the first of two crucial mistakes for Cornell.

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Reporter’s Notebook: Ivy Madness day four

The final remnants of the 2024 Ivy Tournament being packed away for another year (Photo: Rob Browne)

The final day of the 2024 Ivy League Tournament was an incredibly chaotic one, which started hours before the noon tipoff of the thrilling men’s championship and ended with a near-midnight zoom celebratory conference call with Columbia women’s basketball coach Megan Griffith.

For the second day in a row, the tournament provided its fair share of emotional highs and lows. There may still be people who haven’t taken to the thought of Ivy Madness, after eight years and six events, but it is an amazing weekend to celebrate the talented players and coaches and showcase this shouldn’t-be-under-the-radar conference to the nation.

I’m still in a bit of a stupor from the last few days, but I’ll try my best to recount scenes from a lengthy final day:

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