For women's basketball in the Ivy League this season, the more things change, the more things stay the same.
Harvard picked up its 16th and 17th consecutive league victories last weekend in triumphs over Brown and Yale, respectively. The wins give Harvard (11-6 overall) a perfect 5-0 league record, having played all five games away from Lavietes Pavilion. With seven of their remaining nine Ivy contests to take place in Cambridge, the Crimson looks to defend its Ivy league title and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year.
After leading scorer Alison Feaster was sidelined with an ankle injury early in the Yale game, freshman Laela Sturdy filled in with a career-high 13 points and four rebounds.
"Laela is a typical Harvard forward," Feaster said. "She can post up or shoot threes. It shows that our bench is very talented."
Feaster expects to return this weekend when the Crimson takes on Pennsylvania and Princeton. Both games are scheduled for 6 p.m. at Lavietes Pavilion.
Yet banging on the door is upstart Cornell, only a half game behind after slipping by Princeton 58-57 last Friday, then edging Pennsylvania, 69-66 on Saturday. Cornell (5-1, 10-7) was led by the clutch play of junior Kim Ruck, who sank two free throws with seven seconds left to steal the win from Princeton, then added a career-best 30 points against Pennsylvania. The Ivy League rewarded Ruck for her efforts with the Player of the Week award. The Big Red battles Brown and Yale this weekend in Ithaca.
Despite the Ivy League's talent, the conference continues to stumble outside its own friendly confines. With Harvard, Dartmouth, Pennsylvania and Princeton all dropping non-conference games last week, the Ivies fell to 32-62 outside league play. Only Harvard and Cornell retain plus. 500 records overall.
Not one of the Ivy squads owns a winning record outside of league contests, and all but Pennsylvania own losses by margins of 23 points or more to non-conference opponents.
Included in this assault are Dartmouth's 47 point loss to Texas A&M, Columbia's 40 point defeat by Georgetown, and Harvard's own 44 point drubbing at the hands of George Washington.
Yet individually the Ivy League continues to hold its own among the elites of the country. Brown's super-sophomore Vita Redding continues to lead the nation in scoring, while the Bears' tandem of Redding and junior Liz Turner ranks second nationally as a group (41.7 ppg--only a tenth of a point behind North Carolina's Jones/Reid combination).
Brown's victory over Dartmouth Saturday night kept the Bears (4-2, 9-9) a game and a half out of the top spot, while boasting the league's leading offense.
Pennsylvania (2-2, 6-10) and Princeton (2-2, 3-13) both remain three games off the Crimson pace, with a chance to lessen that gap with games at Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend.
The Quakers' junior Colleen Kelly set a new school record for 3 pointers in a game after netting seven against Cornell, putting her third on the school's all-time list for treys in a season with 40.
Though Dartmouth (2-3, 7-10) dropped games to Brown and Rhode Island, the Big Green was sparked by the play of Ivy League Rookie of the Week Courtney Banghart. The freshman poured in 43 points on the week--including 24 in the loss to Rhode Island--and piled up seven rebounds, six assists, and eight steals to boot.
Yale (1-5, 5-13) and Columbia (0-6, 3-15) round out this weekend's action with a head-to-head battle for the cellar-dweller position Friday night.