NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Yale's regular season comes to an end this weekend with visits to Cornell and Columbia. The Bulldogs (14-11, 5-7 Ivy) have been red-hot lately, winning three consecutive games over Penn, Harvard and Dartmouth. After a 2-7 start in Ivy League play, their current winning streak has put them in position to contend for a spot in the inaugural Ivy League tournament. Yale sits one game behind Cornell (15-10, 6-6 Ivy) for the fourth and final playoff spot, and the two teams face each other at 6 p.m. in Ithaca on Friday night. Then Yale heads to Columbia (13-12, 3-9 Ivy) to close out the regular season Saturday at 6 p.m.
Fight for the Last Playoff Spot
Penn, Princeton, and Harvard have clinched their places in the Ivy League tournament, leaving one spot up for grabs. Columbia and Dartmouth have been eliminated, so Cornell, Brown and Yale will battle for fourth place.
Yale must win both of its remaining games to have a chance to qualify. If the Bulldogs win both to finish 7-7, it is possible that Cornell and Brown will both finish 6-8 to give Yale the outright lead. If Yale is tied with Cornell or Brown at 7-7, the first tiebreaker is head-to-head. Since Yale would be 1-1 against Cornell and Brown in that scenario, the next tiebreaker would go to the teams' record against the top team in the conference. Yale would need to hope that Penn remains in first place, since Yale is the only one of the three teams to have beaten Penn this season. Second-place Princeton went 2-0 against Yale and 1-1 against both Brown and Cornell, so if the Tigers finish in first place, Yale will miss the tournament. Penn has a 2-game lead on Princeton with three games remaining for both teams, so Yale is in good position if it takes care of business in its last two games.
A more detailed description of the tiebreaking procedures can be found here.
Berkowitz Named Ivy League Co-Player of the Week
Jen Berkowitz was named Ivy League Co-Player of the Week on Monday. The junior forward has been the biggest contributor during Yale's three game winning streak, the longest active streak in the Ivy League.
On Feb. 18, Berkowitz set a career high with 26 points in a win over first-place Penn. She followed up that performance this past weekend with another 26-point effort against Harvard. She also collected 10 rebounds in the game, and her superb play led the Bulldogs to their first win over the Crimson since 2012.
Berkowitz tied for a team high with 12 points in Saturday's win over Dartmouth, adding 5 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Penn junior Michelle Nwokedi shares the honor with Berkowitz as Co-Player of the Week. She recorded double-doubles in wins over Cornell and Columbia.
This is the second time this season that Berkowitz has been named Ivy League Player of the Week, after receiving the honor on Nov. 28. Berkowitz leads the Bulldogs this season with 14 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game, and she leads the Ivy League with a .522 field goal percentage.
Report on the Cornell Big Red
Cornell's Class of 2017 is the winningest in program history, with 58 wins. Senior Nia Marshall recently became Cornell's all-time leading scorer with 1,657 points, breaking a 26-year-old record. Marshall ranks 3rd in the Ivy League this season with 15.4 points per game, and she also leads the team in rebounds (6.8), steals (1.7), and blocks (0.9) per game.
In the teams' previous meeting this season, Marshall went for 18 points and 9 rebounds, Megan LeDuc scored 17 points and the team hit eight of eighteen 3-pointers to win comfortably at Yale despite Lena Munzer tying her career high with 25 points. Jen Berkowitz fouled out of the game after making just one field goal and scoring 6 points.
Cornell leads the Ivy League in 3-point field goal percentage by a wide margin at .377, so Yale will need to focus on that area in this game to achieve a better result. On Friday, Yale will seek its fourth straight season split against Cornell, while the Big Red will look to sweep the series for the first time since 2008-09.
Report on the Columbia Lions
Columbia leads the Ivy League in free throw percentage and ranks last in 3-point field goal percentage and 3-pointers made, so Yale will aim to keep the Lions on the perimeter and out of the paint. That will prove to be a difficult task, as Columbia leads the Ivy League by a significant amount with a +9.4 rebounding margin (Yale ranks 5th at +0.5). Camille Zimmerman is the main reason for Columbia's dominance inside, and she leads the Ivy League with 22.9 points per game and 9.6 rebounds per game.
When these teams met a month ago at Yale, Zimmerman recorded 26 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists in a dominant performance. Jen Berkowitz almost matched Zimmerman with 21 points and 7 rebounds, but she could not get enough help after Lena Munzer got into foul trouble and became a non-factor in the game. If Munzer can make solid contributions this weekend, Yale will have a great opportunity to play postseason basketball.
Filed by Andy Dougherty, Yale Sports Publicity