Women's Basketball: Cagers return to Jadwin on streak
On Friday night, Princeton will play Dartmouth (6-13, 4-1) which looks like it is finally returning to its 2009 Ivy championship form after finishing in the bottom half of the conference standings for the last three consecutive seasons. The Big Green has won its last four games and now has as many conference wins as it did in all of last year.
With an average of 53.7 points per game, Dartmouth isn’t much of an offensive threat. Instead, its strength lies on the defensive end. In conference play so far, the Big Green ranks second in the league in opponents’ field goal, three-point percentage and in points per game allowed. Dartmouth is also a strong rebounding team thanks to the efforts of center Tia Dawson who is third in the league with 7.9 rebounds per game.
Against Dartmouth, Princeton will need to do exactly what it has been doing so far: score. However the Tigers will need to quickly shift gears and focus more on defense when it faces offensive-minded Harvard on Saturday. Harvard (13-6, 4-1) leads the all-time series 38-32, but the series has been split at 5-5 over the last five years. Princeton has dominated it since 2010, but the Crimson did take one away from the Tigers in 2011. That game remains the last time the Tigers have lost to an Ivy League opponent.
Despite losing its starting point guard to graduation, Harvard has had no trouble with running its offense and racking up points. With a trio of double-digit scorers, the Crimson have easily put up 68.6 points per game, which is only slightly lower than the Tigers’ 72.6 average. The biggest advantage that Harvard holds over Princeton comes from behind the perimeter. Crimson guards Victoria Lippert and Emma Golen lead the league in three-point shooting percentage, resulting in Harvard’s league-high 37.1 percent, over four points higher than Princeton’s.
Harvard may be an offensive powerhouse, but it will have to face a stifling Princeton defense that ranks first in the league in rebounding and steals. The return of senior point guard Lauren Polansky has been especially helpful, as she averages 2.1 steals per game, good for third in the league. Grabbing rebounds and forcing turnovers will be essential if the Tigers want to succeed in their game plan of attacking the basket early on in the shot clock.
“Keys for both evenings will be for us to really push the ball in transition, which is what we have been focusing on a lot in practices,” Polansky said. “Other than that I think making sure we lock down on defense and getting the younger girls to communicate and be on the same page defensively will be crucial for our success this weekend.”
The Tigers will tip off against Dartmouth at 7 p.m. on Friday and against Harvard at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
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