This weekend was an important one for the women's basketball team as they extended their undefeated season to 23-0 with a 7-0 record in the Ivy League. The Tigers, ranked no. 16 in the AP poll (18 in the USA today poll), put on strong showings in an 86-58 victory over Brown on Friday and a much tighter 56-50 victory over Yale on Saturday.
The game against Brown saw the Tigers break the program record for the most consecutive wins (22) in program history, and the Tigers extended that record in the game against Yale. The Yale game also saw Tiger head coach Courtney Banghart notch her 161st career win, which leaves her only two wins away from tying former head coach Joan Kowalik for the most wins (163) in program history.
Six different Tigers scored in the double digits during the game against Brown for the second time this season. Senior guard Blake Dietrick led the team with 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Junior guard/forward Annie Tarakchian posted her sixth double-double this season, posting 13 points and 10 boards. Junior guard Amanda Berntsen, junior guard Michelle Miller and senior forward Mariah Smith each also scored 12 points, a career high for Smith. Junior forward Alex Wheatley rounded out the group with 11 points of her own.
After finding themselves down 8-6 a few minutes into the game against Brown, the Tigers settled into a groove on a Dietrick three-pointer and held the Bears scoreless for almost three minutes, going 8-0 on that run. After a quick three from Brown’s Megan Reilley and a layup from teammate Natalie Ball, the Tigers managed to hold Brown scoreless again for almost four and half minutes, leaving the score 22-13. A jumper and a three from Brown’s Ellise Sharpe and a pair of Jordin Alexander free throws closed the point difference to 12, but a series of free throw shots topped off with a pair of layups and a three pointer from Berntsen followed by a three points from Dietrick allowed the Tigers to solidify their lead, 51-31, going into the second half.
The second half opened with a 6-0 run from the Bears and Wheatley responded to the Brown push with a jumper and layup to kick the Tiger gears into action. After a Miller three and jumper, the Tigers continued their dominance over the Bears, extending their lead to as much as 30 points with 1:23 left on the clock off of a three from sophomore guard Taylor Brown. The Tigers shot 59.3 percent during the first half of the game, shooting 48.3 percent overall. The Tigers held the Bears to 33.3 percent, showing how far their defense has come this season.
The Yale game saw Tarakchian net her seventh double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds, netting all five of her free throw attempts. Wheatley scored a game-high 18 points, with Dietrick and Berntsen each scoring seven points.
The Tigers found themselves down 7-4 six minutes in, battling Yale to regain ground. Most of the first half was composed of the Tigers and Bulldogs gaining and losing the lead with the largest difference in points occurring with 2:53 left on the clock and the Bulldogs up by four points. Luckily, a Dietrick layup and free throw accompanied by Berntsen and Wheatley layups allowed the Tigers to regain control with 30 seconds left in the period to come out of the first half up 22-25.
Carrying forward with the momentum that put the Tigers up at the end of the first half, the Orange and Black opened with an 8-2 run. Yale’s Jen Berkowitz stopped the Tiger run, closing the point difference to only three points on a pair of triples. Although the Tigers managed to stay ahead for the entire second half, the point difference was as low as one point three times, the last of which occurred with only four minutes left on the clock.
Saturday’s game against Yale marked the first game of the season in which the Tigers didn’t manage to build a double-digit lead during the entire game. The Tigers also shot uncharacteristically poorly, shooting 42.5 percent and a more astonishing 12.5 percent on three pointers, even more remarkable because the Tigers entered the game with the highest three-point shooting average in the country. The Tigers held the Bulldogs to shooting 30 percent overall and 38.9 percent on three point shots.