PRINCETON, N.J. – The regular season is over, but the work for the Yale women's basketball team is far from done. The Bulldogs' 64-53 loss to Princeton Saturday at Jadwin Gym finalized the seeding for the upcoming Ivy League Tournament -- and booked Yale a rematch with the Tigers next Saturday in the semifinals at The Palestra in Philadelphia. The Bulldogs will be the No. 4 seed while Princeton is the No. 1 seed.
Saturday's loss included some high points for Yale -- none bigger than senior forward Jen Berkowitz scoring her 1,000th career point. But it also gave the Bulldogs an idea of where they need to improve to achieve a different result next Saturday. They hurt themselves with 13 turnovers and a 9-for-18 performance at the free throw line. Princeton, which clinched sole possession of the Ivy League title with the win, took full advantage of Yale's miscues.
"We put 40 minutes together where we battled from a competitive standpoint," said Allison Guth, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "But we weren't disciplined as far as sticking to our offensive and defensive game plan. We had some incredibly painful turnovers. We came with the heart, but not the attention to detail."
Yale (15-12, 8-6 Ivy League) led for the majority of the first half, taking a five-point lead into the second quarter thanks to a buzzer-beating three-pointer from senior guard Tamara Simpson. She would finish with a team-high 13 points.
Berkowitz' 1,000 point came in fitting fashion at 5:15 of the first, as she fought her way through one of the league's best players -- Princeton guard Bella Alarie -- for a layup.
"That kid is such a leader for us from a composure standpoint," said Guth. "We know we can get instant offense from her. Where she has grown the most this year is as a post defender. We need her to be that confident kid; we go the way Jen Berkowitz goes in that regard, and I've talked to her about it. She's all about the team, and has helped us earn that right to go to The Palestra."
The Bulldogs got the lead up to seven points three times in the second quarter, but a 7-0 run by Princeton left the game tied 30-30 at halftime. After a free throw by sophomore guard Roxy Barahman gave Yale a one-point lead at the start of the third, the Tigers went on another 7-0 run.
Sophomore forward Megan Gorman, who would finish with a game-high 11 rebounds, stopped that run with a three-pointer. But the Tigers eventually built the lead to seven heading into the fourth quarter.
Yale put together another run in the fourth -- 7-2 to get within three with 5:38 to play. And after a layup by Simpson with 88 seconds left, the Bulldogs trailed by just four. But Princeton (22-5, 12-2 Ivy League) then hit seven of eight from the free throw line to get the final margin to 11.
The Tigers received the Ivy League championship trophy in a ceremony on the court after the game. This was their 13th Ivy title and sixth in past nine years.
Still, Yale has some reasons for optimism heading into the rematch at a neutral site. This was Princeton's lowest margin of victory at Jadwin against an Ivy team this season; the Tigers won their other six league home games by an average of 25 points. And Yale won the two teams' earlier meeting in New Haven, 73-59.
Combined with Friday's loss at Penn -- another team that Yale may face in the Ivy League Tournament -- the weekend helped underscore what the Bulldogs need to work on as they seek the school's first NCAA Tournament berth.
"Disciplined teams win in March," said Guth. "We have to lock in to one possession at a time. We have to control getting a shot up (instead of turning the ball over) on each trip."
Yale finished the Ivy season with eight league wins, the most in five years. With 15 overall wins, the Bulldogs remain two shy of the school record.
Yale and Princeton will play at 6:00 p.m. next Saturday at the Palestra, with No. 2 seed Penn playing the No. 3 seed Harvard after that. The winners of the two semifinal games meet Sunday at 4:00 p.m. with a spot in the NCAA Tournament on the line.
Coverage from Philadelphia begins next Friday with "Live from the Palestra" on the Ivy League Network free of charge at http://www.ivyleaguenetwork.com starting at 9:00 a.m. Yale will be highlighted during its open shoot around starting at 2:00 p.m. Friday.
With this layup in the 1st quarter, senior Jen Berkowitz now has— Yale W. Basketball (@YaleWBB) March 3, 2018
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We lead Princeton 14-12 in the 1st. pic.twitter.com/CZ5VVtt38C