Photos and portions of this story courtesy of Harvard and Princeton Athletic Communications
PRINCETON, N.J. -- For the second-straight year, Harvard, Penn and Princeton are going dancing.
Penn won the League title to earn an automatic qualifier berth to the NCAA Tournament, where it will play Texas in the first round on at the Comcast Center in College Park, Md., Sunday, March 23 at 3:00 p.m. The game will also be broadcast on ESPN and ESPN3.
Princeton and Harvard finished tied for second in the League standings, but the Tigers received the Ivy's automatic berth to the WNIT thanks to their split with Penn, which in turn swept the Crimson. Princeton will host VCU in the first round on Thursday at 7:00 p.m.
Harvard also earned a berth to the WNIT, becoming the first Ivy team in League history to receive an at-large bid to the tournament. The Crimson will travel to face Iona on Thursday at 7:00 p.m.
Princeton is headed to its fifth consecutive postseason appearance and sixth in program history. The Tigers have faced five teams advancing to the WNIT and is 3-3 versus the tournament field.
The Tigers are coming off their fifth straight 20-win season and are led by a trio of All-Ivy performers in Blake Dietrick, Kristen Helmstetter and Alex Wheatley. Dietrick leads the offense with 14.4 points per game, while Helmstetter adds 11.6 points and a team-high 6.3 rebounds per game.
VCU (22-9, 9-7 A-10) travels to New Jersey following its quarterfinal loss in the Atlantic 10 Championship to top-seeded Dayton. The Rams are averaging 75.8 points and 41.4 rebounds per game, guided by senior All-Atlantic 10 First Teamer Robyn Parks' 21.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
The two programs have only met once previously in program history, a 78-76 Tiger victory on Jan. 3, 1987 in Princeton.
Princeton has competed in the previous four consecutive NCAA tournaments and made its postseason debut in the National Women's Invitational Tournament in 1995-96, the predecessor of the current WNIT. The Ivy League's first at-large berth, the Tigers earned the No. 8 seed and fell to Arkansas and Western Kentucky, before beating Illinois State, 68-65, on March 23, 1996.
This marks the fifth WNIT appearance over the last six years and third-straight for the Crimson. Harvard posted its 11th 20-win season, all under head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith, with a 21-7 record heading into Thursday's contest against the Gaels.
This will be the program's 11th postseason appearance. Harvard has competed in six NCAA Tournaments, and in 1998 became the only No. 16 seed to upset a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament on either the men's and women's side when it defeated Stanford, 71-67.
The Crimson made history again in 2011-12 as the first member of the Ivy League to register a win in the WNIT. Harvard repeated itself with a 61-57 win last season at Hartford.
The Gaels come into Thursday's game with a 26-5 overall record, posting a 18-2 mark in MAAC play and falling to Quinnipiac, 79-68, in the MAAC semifinals. Pacing IC is Damika Martinez with 24.7 points per game, while Joy Adams averages a double-double with 17.1 points and 14.1 rebounds.
Harvard dropped its lone meeting against Iona, 61-51, in 1984.