The women’s basketball team set a new Ivy League record this weekend for consecutive league victories with wins over Columbia and Cornell. The defense shined in both games as the Tigers continued to breeze through the competition.
The Lions (3-20 overall, 1-8 Ivy League), the last-place team in the league, did not put up much of a fight when they visited Jadwin Gymnasium. A flurry of scoring from senior center Megan Bowen, who put up 17 points; senior guard Niveen Rasheed, who had 15; and freshman guard Michelle Miller, who set career-highs with 21 points and five three-pointers, helped the Tigers (18-5, 9-0) to a 98-36 victory. The win, the largest of the season, marked Princeton’s 32nd consecutive Ivy victory, putting the Tigers in a tie for first on the list of most consecutive league wins by an Ivy team.
The Tigers eclipsed that mark and set a new record on Saturday, but their 59-34 victory over Cornell (11-12, 3-6) was marked by a lukewarm offensive showing coupled with excellent defensive play.
“It’s one of those games we kind of just scratch out and move on,” sophomore guard Mariah Smith said. “It wasn’t our best performance.”
Smith had a good performance herself, but the fact that her eight points tied her for second-most on the team is indicative of how different Saturday’s game was from Friday’s. The Tigers’ leading scorer was Rasheed, the only Princeton player in double digits, with 14. A few minutes into the game, the captain passed former teammate Devona Allgood ’12 to move into third place on Princeton’s all-time rebounding list.
Rebounding was crucial on a day when the Tigers faced a defense much less porous than Columbia’s. Princeton looked good early, going on a 27-3 run midway through the first half to put distance between itself and Cornell, a margin that the Big Red would not make up. Still, the visitors had 10 steals and Princeton turned the ball over 21 times, thanks to sloppy passing in the second half.
“Every game’s kind of a grind,” Rasheed said. “[In the] second half of Ivy League [play], every team knows exactly what you’re going to do; you know what they’re going to do. We didn’t come out with quite the execution we had the first time, so we kind of had to grind it out.”
Rasheed had six of the Tigers’ 45 rebounds. Twenty-nine of those were defensive, and the defense made Cornell uncomfortable all night. The Big Red consistently struggled to get shots off, and the bench was counting down the shot clock on every possession for the first 10 minutes of the second half. Still, guards Spencer Lane and Allyson DiMagno adapted to the pressure as the game went on — they put up 10 and 11 points, respectively, many of which came on off-balance shots that barely beat the buzzer.
“Defensively we’re pretty sound,” Rasheed said. “We talked well, and we just trust each other on the court. You can always count on our defense every game, even when our offense is kind of lacking.”
That held true as the Tigers followed up their second-highest scoring night of the season with their lowest score of the year in Ivy play. It may not have been as much of a blowout as expected, but it was still an important night for the program. Smith credited Rasheed and her fellow seniors with the 33-game streak.
“Our four seniors have worked incredibly hard over the last four years, so this is just a continuation of what they’ve always done,” she said.
The Tigers will try to keep the streak alive next week as they travel to Harvard and Dartmouth.“It’s going to be a great crowd,” Smith said. “They all think they can beat us, so it’s always fun.”