February 23, 2024 

Locked On Women’s Basketball: Who is making a splash in the Ivy League?

Ivy League beat reporter Jenn Hatfield talks Princeton-Columbia rematch, regular-season awards

With just three weeks until the Ivy League Tournament, The Next’s Ivy League beat reporter Jenn Hatfield joins Natalie Heavren to talk all about the Ancient Eight. The pair discuss the Player and Rookie of the Year contenders and the upcoming matchup between Princeton and Columbia. Hatfield also breaks down who she expects to make the conference tournament, who has surprised her this season and more.

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First, they discussed Hatfield’s top picks for Player and Rookie of the Year, Abbey Hsu of Columbia and Mataya Gayle of Penn, respectively.

“She’s basically doing everything you can ask for,” Hatfield said of Hsu. “She’s averaging over 20 points a game which leads the league. She’s the best guard rebounder in the Ivy League. She’s shooting 39% from three, but has diversified her shot selection to include everywhere on the floor. She’s often taking the toughest defensive assignment on the perimeter. Literally, there’s not much more you can ask of her. And she’s just been phenomenal.”

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As for Gayle: “She can play point guard, she can play shooting guard. But she’s mostly running the point right now for Penn and she’s still averaging over 15 points a game, which is best among Ivy freshmen,” Hatfield said. “She is fearless. I wrote a story earlier this year about her, and her distinguishing factor, at least in my eyes, is she’s just so happy to challenge herself against the top players. She was really excited about going head to head with Abbey Hsu, very happy to challenge herself against [Harvard’s] Harmoni Turner … She just has this this kind of youthful, loving spirit about the game and has been really doing everything, again, for Penn.”

Then, the two discussed the highly anticipated upcoming rematch between Columbia and Princeton, the league’s top two teams, which is already sold out.

“It’s gonna be a great day for the Ivy League, with these top two teams battling with a share of first place on the line,” Hatfield said. “So Columbia is currently a game back of Princeton, so they could, if Columbia wins … be tied to top the conference. And it’s going to be at Columbia, it’s been sold out since Monday. And just the way that Columbia’s gym is, the fans are really like on top of the players on the court. It feels very small and intimate and loud. And so it’s just going to be a great atmosphere.”

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“Add to it that it’s senior day, and it’s I think it’s going to be electric,” she added. “It’s the second matchup between these teams; they’ve kind of seen each other once and maybe shook out some of the nerves … Columbia has somewhat of a young team around Abbey; they’ve now got a Princeton game under their belts. I’m looking forward to some really high-level basketball and a really fun environment.”

Hatfield and Heavren also discussed other top candidates for the league’s awards and previewed the upcoming Ivy League Tournament. Make sure to subscribe to the Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast to keep learning about the WNBA, women’s college basketball, basketball history and much more!

Written by The Next

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