While the semester may be winding down, the women’s basketball season is in full swing, as some of the teams are beginning to get their first tastes of Ivy League play. Based on performances so far, this year’s battle for the crown could very well prove to be a dogfight down to the very end.
Penn Quakers (10-2 overall, 1-0 Ivy League): The 2014 league champions have made a strong statement to the rest of the league with their recent victory over Princeton at home. They’ve been able to maintain success despite not putting up stunning offensive numbers. The work, as one can imagine, has come primarily on the defensive end — the Quakers have held opponents to just above 50 points a game this season, best of the Ivies. Credit has to go to Michelle Nwokedi and Sydney Stipanovich (2014-15 Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year), first and third respectively in rebounding among Ivy League players.
Brown Bears(12-2): The squad from Providence will enter Ivy League play on a high note after taking a 90-35 laugher over Rhode Island College on Wednesday. It points to what has been a strong offensive showing for the Bears this year, who finished second to last in the league last year and have established themselves nicely in the early going. The offense certainly benefits from their strong shooting behind the line — Brown is currently the top three-point shooting team in the league this season, sinking them at a 35.6 percent rate.
Columbia Lions(10-4): It’s an excellent start so far for the team that finished dead last in the Ivies last year. As the Lions prepare to determine who’s the dominant Ivy of New York State — they open league play against Cornell at the end of the month — they know that forward Camille Zimmerman will be essential, ranking top 5 in points, rebounds and field goal percentage. She headlines the offense that currently ranks just behind Princeton in points per game.
Cornell Big Red(8-6): It has yet to get started in league play, but the Big Red knows it will continue to rely heavily on scoring dynamo Nia Marshall if it wants to break out of mediocrity in the league. She’s come out with a bang in her third season in the league, topping the Ivy League in points per game. The Big Red will certainly need her strong output, with the team in seventhplace scoring wise among the Ivies.
Princeton Tigers(11-4, 0-1): After going nearly two full calendar years without a loss to an Ivy League team, the Tigers had to come back down to earth eventually. Despite the differences from last season’s unprecedented success, the women of Nassau have shown their talent —they boast the league’s highest-producing offense at just above 73 points a game and continue to dominate the boards with just under 47 a game. They also have continued to be one of the league’s most efficient teams, shooting 43.2 percent from the field. With a consistently productive senior core guards Michelle Miller, Alex Wheatley and Amanda Berntsen and forward Annie Tarakchian, this team still looks to be a threat to head back to the Big Dance for another year.
Yale Bulldogs (9-7): As the Bulldogs prepare for their Ivy League opener against Brown next Saturday, they must count their lucky stars for the emergence of Nyasha Sarju this season. This senior guard, having not averaged more than 7.3 points per game in her first 3 years, has been putting up 16.3 points (second highest output in the league) per game on a stunning 49.7 percent shooting clip.
Harvard Crimson(6-8, 1-0): The Crimson has been on the wrong end of a multitude of close games so far, with four of its eight losses by four points or less. A win over the Dartmouth Big Green to kick off league play is just the positive note it needs to get back on track as it tries to be competitive in the race for the no. 1 spot.
Dartmouth Big Green (5-12, 0-1): This team that has not finished in the top four of the Ivy League since the 2009-10 season opens up the year still trying to find its way. The Big Green has not been able to find the touch this season on offense, putting up the league’s lowest scoring mark at 51.6 points per game — almost ten points below Cornell’s 61.3 points, who ranks seventh in the category. The efforts of the Big Green’s Lakin Roland should not go unnoticed, as she is one of just two Ivy League players to rank in the top 5 for both points and rebounds. But if she wants to make her team competitive again her senior season, she’ll have to drag along a team where not another player is breaking the ten points per game mark this year.