With just under a month left until league play begins, the Ivy League women’s basketball teams have been testing their mettle against non-conference foes. A year after Princeton ran away with the title, the league looks much more competitive this season, with both last year’s closest challengers in Penn and bottom dwellers in Brown and Columbia enjoying successful starts to the year. Here’s how the Tigers and the rest have fared so far:
Princeton (9-1 overall): After a convincing 61-47 win over Pitt on Saturday, the Tigers look like the the team to beat in the Ivies. Princeton held their opponent under 60 points for the fifth time in the last six games and out-rebounded the Panthers by a staggering margin of 52-24. As has been the case all season, the Tigers shared the load offensively with four of five starters in double figures, lead by senior guard Amanda Bernsten with 19 points. After the victory over Fordham, Princeton will face a huge test as they travel to take on tenth-ranked Ohio State this Friday.
Brown (8-1): The Bears continue to surprise this season after a disappointing year last time around that included losses in seven of their last eight games. Freshman guard and top scorer Shanya Metha has played no small part in this success, leading the Ivies by shooting 52 percent from three. With their most recent win over Bryant and an incredible 114-28 blowout of Mount Ida earlier in the year, Brown has the feel of a real contender as league play approaches.
Penn (5-1): Last season’s runners-up, the Quakers round out the league’s teams who have yet to lose twice in out-of-conference play. Penn’s only loss of the season came in the first game to 13th-ranked Duke, a game in which the Quakers were leading with just 6 minutes left. Behind the Ivy’s leading rebounder and reigning Rookie of the Year, sophomore forward Michelle Nwokedi, and the league’s stingiest defense that has given up just 48.7 points per game, Penn looks to regain the league title from Princeton this season.
Columbia (6-4): After a 5-1 start the Lions have gone through a rough stretch, losing three of their last four games including a narrow 57-56 defeat at the hand of Rhode Island on Saturday. However, with the league’s third-leading scorer and rebounder in sophomore forward Camille Zimmerman, Columbia will hope to regain their earlier momentum over the holidays.
Yale (7-5): Led by much improved senior guard Nyasha Sarju, who is first in the league in scoring with 17.2 points per game despite starting just seven games last year, the Bulldogs are off to a successful start to the season. With many of their losses coming against strong opposition such as St. John’s and Dayton, Yale’s tough schedule could pay off come the new year.
Cornell (4-4): It’s been a season of blowouts so far for the Big Red, both on the winning and losing side. After losing by a combined margin of 44 points to Buffalo and Marshall, Cornell bounced back behind 22 points from the Ivy’s second highest scorer, junior forward Nia Marshall, to convincingly defeat Towson 88-60. Behind Marshall, Cornell will try and end up on the positive side of those scorelines more times than not as they look to take the next step and challenge for the league title this season.
Harvard (4-5): With three players averaging between ten and 14 points per game, including senior sharpshooter Kit Metoyer, the Crimson won four of their first six games before enduring a three game losing streak over the last two weeks. An experienced team that starts three seniors, Harvard will hope this leadership pays off and helps them bounce back in their upcoming contests against Fairfield and Stony Brook.
Dartmouth (2-8): Enduring a difficult opening stretch to the year and struggling to create offense with a league worst average of just 52.1 points per game, the Big Green will look to their leading scorer and rebounder, senior forward Lakin Roland, to try and right the ship in the coming weeks. Fresh off an encouraging win against Hartford in which Dartmouth held their opponents to a meager 38 points, the Big Green will need to couple that defensive effort with an improved performance on the other side of the ball against Atlantic Coast Conference foe Louisville in their next contest.