On the road this weekend, the Harvard women’s basketball team will have a chance to unseat the champions.
After stopping at the Palestra on Friday to take on Penn (10-9, 3-2 Ivy), the Crimson (13-6, 4-1) will come face to face with Princeton (14-5, 5-0)—which has won three consecutive Ivy League titles—at Jadwin Gymnasium on Saturday.
Although Harvard swept the Quakers last year, the team has not beaten the Tigers since 2011 and has not taken both road games in the same season since 2009.
“The mindset of the team is that we are mentally and physically ready to go,” said co-captain and forward Miriam Rutzen. “We are ready to play whoever our competition is, no matter what the name is on the front of the jersey.”
On the road trip, the Crimson will square off against the two best defensive teams in the league. Princeton has allowed only 54.4 points per game, while Penn has allowed 56.8.
Harvard—the second-highest scoring team in the league with 68.6 points per game—will look towards offensive leader Christine Clark. The junior guard leads the team with 16.6 points per game.
In addition to Clark, the Crimson has relied on a number of other sources to break down its opponents’ defense.s Sophomore forward Temi Fagbenle has been a force in the paint, putting up a career-high 20 points on 75-percent shooting at Yale earlier this month.
Accounting for more than three treys per game, co-captain Emma Golen and senior forward Victoria Lippert have led the way from the perimeter, each shooting over 40 percent.
“We know that Penn and Princeton are going to play similar games in that they are very defensively aggressive,” Golen said.
For the Quakers, junior guard Alyssa Baron leads the way with 14 points per game, but she is shooting only 37 percent from the field. Penn has struggled to find the net with consistency, shooting 35 percent as a team—good for sixth in the league.
The Quakers have benefited from tight ball control, forcing more turnovers than their opponents by a league leading 2.89 average margin.
“You can never take any team or any game for granted in the Ivy League, whether you are playing the team with the best record or the worst record,” Rutzen said. “We have continued to get better and grow as a team in how we handle games that are tough.”
Against Princeton, the Crimson will look to control offensive powerhouse Niveen Rasheed. The senior guard leads the Ivy League with 16.9 points per game, and her 9.2 boards per game have helped to make the Tigers the top rebounding team in the conference.
Rasheed is the only Princeton player to average double digit points, and she has been spelled by junior forward Kristen Helmsetter, who chips in 9 points per game.
“We’re just going to try to limit [Rasheed] as much as we can and make sure she gets no easy looks,” Golen said. “After that, they’re all pretty even as offensive threats, so we just need to focus on our matchups.”