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Yale Visits Penn, Princeton in Final Regular Season Weekend

Mary Ann Santucci. (photo by Steve Musco, muscosportsphotos.com)
Mary Ann Santucci. (photo by Steve Musco, muscosportsphotos.com)

YALE-PENN FRIDAY 7:00 P.M.

YALE-PRINCETON SATURDAY 5:00 P.M.

 

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Assured a spot in the Ivy League Tournament for the first time in history, the Yale women's basketball team still has work to do on the final weekend of the regular season. The Bulldogs, tied for third in the Ivy standings, will test themselves against two of their potential opponents in the tournament: second-place Penn Friday night (7:00 p.m., ESPN3, Ivy League Network) and first-place Princeton Saturday night (5:00 p.m., Ivy League Network). The Bulldogs enter the weekend two wins away from tying the school record for victories in a season, and they are still in the running for the Ivy League title -- which would be the school's first since 1979. Senior forward Jen Berkowitz (Wayland, Mass.) is nine points away from joining the 1,000 point club and senior guard Tamara Simpson (North Babylon, N.Y.) is 13 steals away from tying the Ivy League season steals record.

 

SWEEP CLINCHES SPOT IN TOURNAMENT

With a dramatic sweep at home last weekend in front of two large crowds at Lee Amphitheater, Yale clinched a berth in the Ivy League Tournament for the first time. The Bulldogs' weekend began with a 69-56 win vs. Cornell Friday that was highlighted by 14 points, six assists and five steals from senior guard Tamara Simpson (North Babylon, N.Y.). Sophomore forward Megan Gorman (Vero Beach, Fla.) added 12 rebounds. The Big Red was within one of the Bulldogs until a late Yale run closed out the victory and kept the team locked in a tie for third place.

On Saturday, with many alums back for Alumnae Weekend, the Bulldogs celebrated a come-from-behind 66-59 win vs. Columbia -- then celebrated again in the team meeting room after the game when they found out that Dartmouth had lost to Penn, ensuring Yale a spot in the Ivy League Tournament. Sophomore guard Roxy Barahman (Calabasas, Calif.) led Yale with 22 points, while Simpson had 14 and five steals. The Bulldogs forced 18 Columbia turnovers while committing just nine themselves.

 

ONE OF YALE'S BEST

With 15 wins, Yale has matched last season's total -- which had been the team's best win total since winning 16 games in 2011-12. The Bulldogs are within two of the school record for wins in a season. Here are Yale's top eight seasons in terms of overall wins:

17 wins: 1979-80
16 wins: 1993-94, 2011-12
15 wins: 1976-77, 1988-89, 1992-93, 2016-17, 2017-18

Yale's eight Ivy League wins this season are the most since 2012-13, when the Bulldogs went 8-6 in the league. The team record for league wins is 10. Here are Yale's seasons with eight or more Ivy wins:

10 Ivy wins: 1988-89, 2010-11
9 Ivy wins: 1986-87
8 Ivy wins: 1992-93, 1993-94, 1995-96, 1997-98, 2009-10, 2011-12, 2012-13, 2017-18

 

IVY LEAGUE TOURNAMENT PICTURE

With two regular season games left, Princeton (10-2) has a one-game lead on Penn (9-3) for the Ivy League Championship and the No. 1 seed at the Ivy League Tournament Mar. 10-11 at The Palestra in Philadelphia.

Harvard and Yale are tied for third, two games behind Princeton. Brown, Columbia, Cornell and Dartmouth have all been eliminated.

If the season ended today, Yale would be the No. 4 seed in the tournament. The tie with Harvard would not be broken by the first two tiebreakers -- the teams are 1-1 against each other, and both have one win against the highest seed outside of the tie (Princeton). Harvard would have the edge over Yale for the third seed based on its indices rankings (NCAA RPI and Sagarin/RPIRatings.com) -- Harvard's average is 85 and Yale's is 132.

The Bulldogs can still move as high as the No. 1 seed based on this weekend's results. For example: if Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard and Yale win Friday, and Cornell, Harvard, Penn and Yale win Saturday, a four-way tie for first would be created and the Bulldogs would have the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed.

The first-place team in the regular season standings is declared the Ivy League Champion, while the winner of the Ivy League Tournament earns the league's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Last year, in addition to Penn playing in the NCAA Tournament, the league also had two teams (Harvard and Princeton) selected for the WNIT and one (Brown) selected for the WBI. Those selections are all announced on Monday, Mar. 12.

 

SENIOR NIGHT LAST SATURDAY

Yale paid tribute to its three seniors -- forward Jen Berkowitz (Wayland, Mass.), guard Mary Ann Santucci (Seattle, Wash.) and guard Tamara Simpson (North Babylon, N.Y.) as part of Senior Night this past Saturday. The trio has led the program to several notable accomplishments. The team has won 15 games each of the past two seasons, the most for the Bulldogs since 2011-12. This year the Bulldogs beat a top-25 team in TCU and beat Princeton for the first time since 2009. The Bulldogs have also beaten rival Harvard twice in the last three games.

The seniors have also shined off the court, as all three are planning to go into the medical field.

 

BULLDOGS TAKE "PLAY4KAY" FREE THROW CHALLENGE

Yale is taking part in the "Play4Kay Free Throw Challenge" throughout the month of February, raising money for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. Bulldogs fans can support the team's efforts by pledging for every free throw the team makes this month.

Make your pledge to support Yale's "Play4Kay" fundraiser today at https://pledgeit.org/yaleplay4kay.

In eight games this month, the Bulldogs made 100 free throws. They have raised an estimated $140. Louisville is the current leader in the Play4Kay Free Throw Challenge with an estimated $5,418 raised so far.

The Kay Yow Cancer Fund's mission is to extend and improve the lives of those who are battling cancer, on our way to finding a cure, by raising money for research and assisting the underserved.

 

BRUMMEL RECOGNIZED AS LEGEND OF IVY BASKETBALL

Lisa Brummel '81, who will be formally honored as part of the 2018 Class of Legends of Ivy League Basketball at the Ivy League men's and women's basketball tournaments on Saturday, Mar. 10, was recently featured on IvyLeague.com. Brummel is currently business partners with another Yale Athletics alum -- rower Ginny Gilder '79. They are part of the group that owns the WNBA's Seattle Storm.

A four-sport athlete at Yale, Brummel was a four-time MVP for the women's basketball team and earned a pair of first team All-Ivy League honors.

 

BROADCASTS AVAILABLE ON-LINE

Yale's remaining regular season games are scheduled to be available on the Ivy League Network (ILN), available at http://www.ivyleaguenetwork.com and on Apple TV, Roku and the ILN app for Android and Apple devices.

Friday's game at Penn is also scheduled to be on ESPN3 at http://www.espn3.com.

At the Ivy League Tournament, the league will have a live video stream of Friday's activities at the Palestra -- "Live from the Palestra", including shoot arounds and interviews -- available for free on the Ivy League Network. The women's semifinals on Saturday will be live on ESPN3 and tape delayed on ESPNU. The championship on Sunday will be live on ESPNU.

 

IVY MADNESS

The Ivy League men's and women's basketball tournaments return to Philadelphia, where they will take place Saturday and Sunday, Mar. 10-11. The top four teams will earn berths to the tournament, with the semifinals on Saturday and the championships on Sunday. All six games will be broadcast live on ESPN's networks. For tickets and more information please visit IvyMadness.com.

In the first semifinal game on Saturday at 6:00 p.m., the No. 1 seed plays the No. 4 seed. The second semifinal, featuring the No. 2 seed and the No. 3 seed, follows that game. Both semifinal games will be shown live on ESPN3 and tape-delayed on ESPNU.

Sunday's Ivy League Tournament championship game is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. on ESPNU.

 

BULLDOGS ON THE OFFENSIVE

Yale is averaging 68.8 points per game, a 13 percent improvement over last season's average (61.1 points per game).

The 82 points the Bulldogs scored in the wins vs. Colgate and TCU represent the most they have scored in Allison Guth's three seasons as Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball.

 

YALE GETS DEFENSIVE

Yale's loss at Harvard Jan. 26 may have been a turning point. The Bulldogs allowed 97 points in that game, the most they had allowed in a game since giving up 102 at Stanford Dec. 28, 2016. In the nine games since that game, the Bulldogs have allowed just 57.1 points per game and are holding their opponents to a .374 shooting percentage. In the first 16 games, including that game at Harvard, Yale's opponents averaged 69.4 points per game and shot .440.

 

TURNOVER ADVANTAGE

Yale leads the Ivy League in turnover margin at 4.92, with Penn (4.16) the only other league team above 0.76. The Bulldogs are forcing 20.3 turnovers per game, the most in the league and 24th nationally, and Yale is averaging a league-best 10.6 steals per game (31st nationally).

 

TRACKING THE THREE-POINTERS

Yale hit 11 three-pointers in the 73-59 win vs. Princeton Feb. 2, the most the Bulldogs have hit in a game since hitting 11 on Dec. 1, 2016. First-year guard Tori Andrew (Wayzata, Minn.) hit four threes.

Last year the Bulldogs averaged 6.8 made threes per game; they are averaging 6.4 per game this year. In the 15 games that Andrew has played, the Bulldogs have totaled 100 threes (6.7 per game). Yale has hit six or more three-pointers in 15 of the last 19 games.

Seven Bulldogs have attempted at least 25 three-pointers this year, and three of them are shooting 30 percent or better -- Andrew is at 36.7 percent, sophomore guard Roxy Barahman (Calabasas, Calif.) is at 32.5 and junior guard Gabby Nelson (Hurst, Texas) is at 32.0. Of the 26 shots Nelson has taken this year, 25 have been three-pointers (96 percent). Andrew has taken 79 of her 98 shots (81 percent) from three-point territory.

 

CAPTAIN SANTUCCI

Senior guard Mary Ann Santucci (Seattle, Wash.) was elected captain for the 2017-18 season by her teammates. Santucci has missed just one game in her career, and has 52 starts -- including 26 starts last season. One of the team's top ballhandlers and perimeter defenders, she was second on the team in assists last season (2.2 per game) and shot a career-high 35.9 percent from three-point range. She averaged a career-high 4.6 points per game. She is averaging 3.7 points per game this year and is one of six players averaging 22 or more minutes per game.

Santucci posted a season-high 12 points in the win at Binghamton Dec. 2. She was 3-for-6 from three-point range.

Santucci is a pre-med ecology and evolutionary biology major in Morse College. She graduated from Seattle Prep. She has volunteered for Catholic Community Services helping elderly/disabled people who cannot leave their homes.

 

BERKOWITZ AMONG LEAGUE LEADERS

Senior forward Jen Berkowitz (Wayland, Mass.) is enjoying the best season of her career. She leads the team in scoring (15.0 points per game, fourth in the Ivy League) and rebounding (7.4 rebounds per game, eighth in the Ivy League). She also has the league's best field goal percentage (.571). She is on pace for career highs in all three categories.

Berkowitz was named Ivy League Co-Player of the Week Feb. 12 after leading Yale to a road sweep at Columbia and Cornell, the Bulldogs' first Ivy road sweep in five years. She led the team in scoring each night, with 21 points at Columbia and 18 at Cornell.

Berkowitz has scored in double digits in eight straight games. She tied her career high with 26 points in the win at Stony Brook Dec. 6, one of five times this season she has scored 20 or more points in a game. She had a career-high 16 rebounds at Kansas, and has reached double-digits in rebounds six times this year. She has six double-doubles.

Berkowitz has 991 career points, putting her nine away from joining the 1,000-point club.

Berkowitz earned honorable mention All-Ivy League recognition last season. She led the team and finished sixth in the league with 13.4 points per game. She led the league in field goal percentage (.508) and was ninth in rebounding (6.9 per game).

Berkowitz is a pre-med history of science, medicine and public health major in Saybrook College. She graduated from The Rivers School. She was recently profiled in the MetroWest Daily News.

 

 

RECORD-BREAKING YEAR FOR SIMPSON

Senior guard Tamara Simpson (North Babylon, N.Y.) became the 20th player in Yale history to reach the 1,000 career point mark with a layup in the first quarter against Indiana at Lee Amphitheater on Dec. 21. She went on to score a career-high 31 points that day.

Those were the latest milestones in Simpson's career, as she enjoys her best season to date. She is second on the team in scoring, averaging 14.9 points per game (fifth in the Ivy League) -- a 55 percent improvement over last season (9.6 points per game). She also leads the Ivy League in steals (4.7 per game, 2.4 more than any other player) and is 12th in assists (2.6 per game). Her 112 steals this season broke her own school record (90, set her sophomore year).

As of Feb. 27 Simpson was third nationally in steals per game. She is on pace to finish the regular season with 122 steals, within striking distance of the Ivy League record (125, Betsy Gilmore, Dartmouth, 1993-94).

Simpson scored 21 points in the season-opening 62-51 win vs. LIU Brooklyn, shooting 6-for-12 from the field, then matched that total Dec. 12 in the 70-49 win at Saint Peter's. She tied her career high with nine steals against Providence Nov. 29, matching that total in the win at Stony Brook Dec. 6. She has had at least four steals in eight straight games entering this weekend.

Simpson now has 1,209 career points. Prior to her the last Bulldog to reach the 1,000-point milestone was Janna Graf '14, who finished her career in 2014 with 1,151 points. Graf scored her 1,000th point on Dec. 29, 2013. Yale's all-time leading scorer is Mary Kalich '95 (1,663 points).

Simpson is the reigning Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year. She already holds the Yale career record for steals. Her 344 career steals place her second on the Ivy League's all-time list, with Gilmore the leader at 370. As of Feb. 27 she was second among active NCAA players in career steals, trailing only Lamar's Chastadie Barrs (442). Her career average (3.16) places her fourth.

Simpson led the league in steals last season with 79 and contributed offensively as well -- she was third on the team in points per game.

Simpson is a pre-med psychology major in Jonathan Edwards College. She graduated from Portledge School.

 

 

BARAHMAN MAKING UP FOR LOST TIME

Sophomore guard Roxy Barahman (Calabasas, Calif.) has been making up for lost time this season. Barahman was limited to 17 games (one start) last season, but is one of three Bulldogs averaging 32.0 minutes or more per game this season and has made 23 starts. She leads the team in assists (4.0 per game, fourth in the Ivy League), is second in steals (2.0 per game, fourth in the Ivy League) and is third in rebounds (4.6 per game).

Barahman reached a career high in assists with nine in the 73-50 win at Columbia Feb. 9. She set a career high with 11 rebounds in the win vs. Colgate Nov. 13. She scored a career-high 24 points at Binghamton Dec. 2. That was one of three times this season she has reached the 20-point mark, including twice in the last three games.

Barahman is in Davenport College and is a graduate of Oaks Christian.

 

GORMAN ON THE BOARDS

Sophomore forward Megan Gorman (Vero Beach, Fla.) remains one of Yale's most consistent rebounding presences. She is second on the team in rebounding this year (6.7 per game) after finishing third last year (5.1 per game). She has 110 rebounds in the last 13 games (8.5 per game), including a career-high 16 in the 57-39 win at Dartmouth Jan. 27. Her 8.6 rebound average in Ivy games is fourth in the league.

Gorman is in Trumbull College and is a graduate of Vero Beach High School. She is an economics major.

 

ANDREWS SOLIDIFIES STARTING SPOT

First-year forward Ellen Margaret Andrews (Dallas, Texas) earned her first career start when the Bulldogs played at TCU, near her hometown of Dallas, on Nov. 21. She wound up with a season-high nine rebounds in that game. She has now started 19 of the last 20 games.

Andrews scored a season-high 16 points against Hartford Dec. 29, shooting 6-for-9 (.667). She has scored double-digit points in nine games. She is 40-for-49 (.816) from the free throw line, best among Bulldogs with 15 or more attempts.  

Andrews is in Berkeley College and is a graduate of Greenhill School. She writes for the Yale Daily News, covering sports such as track & field and volleyball. Her sister Camille plays soccer at Bucknell, where she is a junior. Her father, Jaye, is a 1985 Bucknell grad who is in the Bucknell Hall of Fame after scoring 1,535 points for the Bison basketball team.

 

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE

Yale has developed quite a home court advantage in recent years. Since the start of the 2014-15 season the Bulldogs have gone 32-18 (.640) at John J. Lee Amphitheater. Here is a look at the team's home record in the past five+ seasons:

2012-13: 6-7 (.462)
2013-14: 7-6 (.538)
2014-15: 8-4 (.667)
2015-16: 10-5 (.667)
2016-17: 7-4 (.636)
2017-18: 7-5 (.583)

 

CLASS OF 2021

Yale welcomes four first years to the roster for the 2017-18 season. All four were captains of their high school teams and bring impressive credentials to New Haven.

The newcomers include a pair of record-setting guards in Ale Aguirre (La Jolla, Calif.) and Tori Andrew (Wayzata, Minn.). Aguirre should be able to stretch opposing defenses: she finished seventh in the nation, second in California and first in San Diego for three-pointers made in a career. She set the national record for three-pointers in a game with 15, earning a mention on ESPN. Andrew is also a threat from deep. A three-time first team all-state selection, she set school career records for scoring, double-doubles and three-pointers made. Her high basketball IQ should enable her to contribute immediately.

The class also includes a pair of forwards. Ellen Margaret Andrews (Dallas, Texas) was the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Large Private Player of the Year as a senior. Her athleticism enabled her to be all-conference in three sports (basketball, track and volleyball), and she was the first player in her school's history to score 1,000 points in a season. Alex Cade (Shaker Heights, Ohio) was a two-time all-state selection and averaged a double-double her senior year (16.7 points, 13.8 rebounds) while adding 4.2 blocks per game.

 

A SEASON TO BUILD ON

The 2016-17 season was one to build on for the Yale women's basketball team. The Bulldogs were on a roll at the end, winning four of their last five games to finish with the team's best win total (15) since 2011-12. Four of the six players who averaged 20 or more minutes per game for Yale in 2016-17 return for 2017-18.

 

ALLISON GUTH, YALE'S JOEL E. SMILOW, CLASS OF 1954 HEAD COACH OF WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

Known as a skilled recruiter throughout her 10-plus years of coaching, Allison Guth was named Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball in May of 2015, returning to the Bulldogs after serving as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator from 2010 to 2012. Guth is the 10th head coach in the history of the women's basketball program, which dates to the 1973-74 season.

The team has made steady progress under Guth, whose staff includes assistants Melissa D'Amico, Roman Owen and Jacinda Dunbar -- all also in their third season with Yale. The Bulldogs have improved their win total from season to season in each of the past two years. Last season they finished with their best win total (15) since 2011-12.

Prior to being named Yale's head coach, Guth spent three seasons at Northwestern as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, helping turn the women's basketball team into a national power. In her final season, the Wildcats went 23-9 (12-6 Big Ten) and qualified for an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time since 1997.

During her first stint in New Haven, Guth was instrumental in Yale's resurgence as a contender for the Ivy League championship and helped guide the Bulldogs to their best two-year record in 18 years and the most Ivy League wins in a two-year span (18; 10-4 in 2010-11, 8-6 in 2011-12) in the program's history. Guth previously served as an assistant coach at DePaul, Missouri and Loyola-Chicago.

Guth, who led Buffalo Grove (Illinois) High School to the 2000 Class AA State title, and her high school teammates were inducted into the Illinois Coaches Basketball Association Hall of Fame in April of 2013.

A three-time letter winner at Illinois, Guth helped the Illini reach the 2003 NCAA Tournament after earning a spot as a walk-on and then earning a scholarship. An Academic All-Big Ten selection, Guth also played a season with the Illinois women's golf team before graduating in 2004. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business before getting her Master's degree in educational leadership from DePaul in 2010.

 

SCOUTING PENN

Penn (18-7, 9-3 Ivy League) is 3-2 in its last five games, losing at Princeton and at Harvard to fall into second place -- a game behind the Tigers in the Ivy standings. The Quakers lead the league in scoring defense, allowing 54.6 points per game, and are holding their opponents to a .356 shooting percentage. That is 18 percentage points better than any other defense in the league.

Penn beat Yale 69-54 when these two teams met Feb. 3 at Lee Amphitheater. Guard Lauren Whitlatch led the Quakers with 18 points, hitting on five of 14 three-point attempts. Senior guard Tamara Simpson (North Babylon, N.Y.) led Yale with 11 points and four steals.

Penn, which won last year's Ivy League Tournament, has made five NCAA Tournament appearances and won five Ivy League titles -- including three in the last four years.

 

SCOUTING PRINCETON

Princeton (20-5, 10-2 Ivy League), which hosts Brown Friday night, enters the weekend with a one-game lead on Penn for the Ivy League Championship. The Tigers have won five Ivy titles in the last eight seasons, and 12 total. They have made six NCAA Tournament appearances, all between 2010 and 2016.

The last time these two teams met Yale beat the Tigers for the first time in nine years, snapping Princeton's 17-game winning streak in the series. Sophomore guard Roxy Barahman (Calabasas, Calif.) led the Bulldogs with 17 points and six assists in the 73-59 win. Senior guard Tamara Simpson (North Babylon, N.Y.) added 15 points and eight steals.

The Tigers are second in the Ivy League in scoring defense (55.5 points per game). Guard/forward Bella Alarie is second in the league in field goal percentage (.496) and forward Leslie Robinson is third in assists (4.3).

Princeton has not lost an Ivy League home game since a 55-44 defeat at the hands of Cornell Feb. 25, 2017. The Tigers have won their five league home games this season by an average of 23 points.

 

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity

 

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