PRINCETON, N.J. -- The 34th season of Ivy League women's basketball kicks off on Friday, as all five teams will open their 2012-13 campaigns. Columbia, Cornell, Penn, Harvard and Yale will tip-off Friday night, while Dartmouth plays its first game on Saturday and three-time defending champion Princeton opens on Sunday.
Princeton was selected to win its fourth-straight conference title after a vote by conference media and women's basketball sports information directors. The Tigers are 41-1 in Ivy play the past three seasons, including a pair of undefeated campaigns (2009-10 and 2011-12). The Tigers are looking to become the first team to win four-straight championships since Dartmouth won five in a row from 1985-90. Princeton ran right through the League last season, winning their Ivy games by an average of 31.0 points.
The Tigers return the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year in senior Niveen Rasheed, who led the League in scoring (16.9) and rebounding (8.8) a year ago, as well as the two-time Defensive Player of the Year in senior Lauren Polansky.
Harvard finished second in the League last season and went 1-1 in the WNIT. The Crimson's 73-71 win at Hofstra in the first round marked the first postseason victory for an Ivy team since Harvard knocked off No. 1-seed Stanford in the opening round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament. The Crimson then fell at Temple in the second round of the WNIT, 64-59.
Junior Christine Clark, a first-team All-Ivy honoree a year ago, returns for Harvard, as does sophomore Temi Fagbenle, who will be competing as a rookie after sitting out last season. Fagbenle played for Great Britain in the 2012 London Olympics.
Yale, which is celebrating its 40th season in 2012-13, returns senior Megan Vasquez, who earned first-team All-Ivy honors last season after averaging 15.3 points per game, fourth-best in the League. Last year's Rookie of the Year, sophomore Sarah Halejian, also is back for Yale. Penn junior Alyssa Baron finished 18 points off the League lead for scoring, averaging 16.9 points per game. Penn will also benefit from the return of sophomore Kara Bonenberger, who averaged 8.4 points and 5.8 rebounds as a freshman.
Brown will look to second-team All-Ivy recipient Sheila Dixon to lead the team. The senior led the team in both scoring (13.1) and rebounding (6.1) last season. Cornell returns a pair of Honorable Mention All-Ivy performers in senior Clare Fitzpatrick (10.8 points, 6.9 rebounds) and junior Allyson DiMagno (10.7 points, 7.3 rebounds).
Dartmouth senior Faziah Steen finished third in the League in scoring with 15.4 points per game en route to All-Ivy second team honors in 2011-12. Columbia senior Tyler Simpson earned Honorable Mention All-Ivy accolades last year after leading the team in scoring, at 12.6 points per game, including an impressive 15.6 points per game in League contests.
INSIDE IVY LEAGUE BASKETBALL
"Inside Ivy League Basketball," a weekly online radio show dedicated to Ivy League men's and women's basketball, returns for its second season in 2012-13.
Hosted by Dan Loney and Brian Seltzer, "Inside Ivy League Basketball" takes in-depth look at all the news and notes surrounding Ivy League men's and women's basketball on and off the courts. "Inside" runs a two-man weave this season with episodes on Mondays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. on BlogTalkRadio.com (blogtalkradio.com/insideivyleaguebasketball) with every episode available on-demand via BlogTalkRadio and IvyLeagueSports.com.
Each episode is packed with highlights, statistics and expert analysis in its 'Around the Ancient Eight' segment. With its 'Program Profile' segment, the show visits with players, coaches and administrators who impact Ivy League men's and women's basketball, both past and present. With its 'Ivy Insights' segment, local and national media join the show to give their thoughts and perspectives on covering the conference.
Via Facebook (search Inside Ivy League Basketball) and Twitter (@insideivyhoops), fans and alumni can follow the show and get a chance to test their Ivy acumen with the 'Trivia Talk' segment. The first person posting the correct answer to each week's trivia question wins a gift certificate to the League's official online store at shop.ivyleaguesports.com.
Check IvyLeagueSports.com in the coming days for this season's episode schedule and guest lineups.
Friday, November 9
Long Island at Columbia, 12 pm
Cornell at Colgate, 6 pm
Harvard at North Dakota State, 6 pm
Penn at Norfolk State, 6 pm
Yale at Holy Cross, 7 pm
Saturday, November 10
Dartmouth at Bryant, 1 pm
Saint Peter's at Brown, 2 pm
Sunday, November 11
Columbia at Vermont, 1 pm
Fordham at Cornell, 1 pm
Harvard at North Dakota, 3 pm
Princeton at St. Joseph's, 3 pm