Women's Basketball: Cagers fall at Delaware on last-second shot
With 16.6 seconds remaining at Delaware on Sunday, the women’s basketball team was hanging on to a slim 58-57 lead. But on the Blue Hens’ final possession, guard Lauren Carra found a lane on the left side of the court and took the ball to the hoop, scoring the game-winning basket.
Sunday’s game matched two of the region’s best mid-major programs, as Princeton (6-3) and Delaware (5-2) both reached the NCAA Tournament and were ranked in the top 25 last year. Both teams were without key contributors, however; the Blue Hens were missing star scorer Elena Delle Donne, while the visitors played without senior point guard Lauren Polansky, who sat out the game with a foot injury.
The Tigers held the lead for most of the first half, but they could never pull away from the hosts. Even when Princeton extended its lead to double digits with four minutes left in the period, the Blue Hens fought back and went into halftime only down by seven points.
Coming out of the break, Delaware continued to work the deficit down, eventually taking the lead at 42-41 at the 15-minute mark.
The score stayed close for the remainder of the game, as neither team could break away.
“They are a very tough team. They aren’t gonna roll over and let us beat them,” senior guard Niveen Rasheed said. “When they went on runs we tried to stop them and they did the same to us. It was hard to pull away, especially with the home crowd behind them.”
Rasheed, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, had a team-high 15 points and three steals. Rasheed also had nine rebounds, tying for the team lead with junior forward Kristen Helmsetter, who also had nine points.
With a one-point advantage going into the waning seconds, the Tigers turned the ball over and left the opportunity for Carra to hit the game-winner.
Turnovers contributed to the team’s downfall, as Princeton outshot and outrebounded the Blue Hens but lost the ball seven more times than its opponent.
The Tigers also were unhappy with their defensive play on Sunday, giving Delaware too many easy opportunities.
“We weren’t able to stop them in the paint,” Rasheed said. “We should have played much tighter defensively. They were driving to the hoop and either coming up for two-footers or getting fouled.”
The Tigers have only two days off, as they play on Wednesday at Villanova (8-1), which is on a seven-game winning streak. Princeton will have to focus on improving its communication, solidifying the fundamental facets of its game as the Tigers look forward to opening league play in January.