The women’s basketball team headed to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., over the weekend to take on Marist in a Saturday night showdown. The Tigers (1-1 overall) fell to the Red Foxes (2-1) 56-45 in an exciting, come-from-behind matchup featuring two teams that reached the 2012 NCAA tournament.
To be sure, this weekend’s game — and especially the second half — was not one the Tigers would like to remember. Princeton shot just 6-for-35 from the field in the second half as it watched Marist overcome the Tigers’ lead, which was as large as eight points after halftime. Princeton also went only 1-for-14 from three-point range in a poor shooting night.
Additionally, senior captain and guard Niveen Rasheed, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, shot 3-for-17 from the field and finished with only seven points, her lowest total in 25 games. Saturday’s game came on the heels of a 5-for-16 shooting performance in a season-opening win against Saint Joseph’s. Princeton has to hope that Rasheed will soon reclaim last year’s success, when she averaged 17 points per game on 45 percent shooting.
“We got a little stagnant on offense. We kept doing a lot of the same actions,” senior center Megan Bowen said. “We’re playing with a lot of new people; we have five freshmen. I think it will all come together, and this weekend showed us that we’re on our way to getting better.”
There were some bright spots for the Tigers, however. Princeton outrebounded Marist by 18 and held the Red Foxes to only two offensive rebounds, asserting their presence in the paint. Bowen, the team’s starting center, led the Tigers with 12 points and shot 6-for-9 from the field.
Princeton was also able to play a few up-and-coming freshmen, forward Alex Wheatley and guard Michelle Miller. Both of these players will figure prominently in the Tigers’ depth, and their development over the course of the year may prove pivotal to Princeton’s success.
Wheatley and Miller have both played significant minutes in each of Princeton’s first two games this season, with Wheatley averaging 4.5 points per game and Miller averaging seven. Fans of the Tigers saw last season how valuable freshman depth can be, as sophomore guards Blake Dietrick and Mariah Smith provided important minutes. Princeton hopes its current group of freshmen can provide that same kind of depth this season.
“I think the way the freshmen came in in the preseason shows how committed they are to the program and to making us get better,” Bowen said. “It’s always harder for freshmen to come in and pick up the college pace so easily. I think they’ve all done a pretty good job.”
The superior guard play of the Red Foxes led the hosts to victory in this game. Leanne Ockenden led the team in scoring with 16 points, adding four assists, while rookie Sydney Coffey also had a big night, scoring 13 points. Forward Elizabeth Beynnon had a solid all-around game, scoring eight points and grabbing seven rebounds. The Red Foxes had a very balanced offensive attack, outshooting the Tigers and garnering three more assists over the course of the game.
It is safe to say that Princeton had a poor shooting night on Saturday; no shots were falling, especially in the second half, even for Princeton’s star player. However, if the Tigers want to be successful this season, they will need to find ways to win even when Rasheed is not playing well and its primary options are not working. Perhaps this starts with a great passing attack. Princeton only had seven assists on Saturday, a number that the Tigers will certainly look to improve upon in the coming games.
“We know we have some things to work on,” Bowen said. “I still think we are a really strong team. We’re really deep at all five positions. This weekend just shows us that we have a lot of work to do, we’re running a new offense.”
Princeton will host Rider at 7 p.m. tonight in Jadwin Gymnasium.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/11/20/31889/