Women's Basketball: No. 1 Cagers look to extend Ivy League record winning streak| Mar 1, 2013
The women’s basketball team brings an Ivy League record 33 consecutive game winning streak to their last road trip of the season this weekend. The Tigers (18-5 overall, 9-0 Ivy League) will face Harvard (15-8, 6-3) on Friday night before travelling to Hanover, N.H. to play Dartmouth (6-17, 4-5). Including this weekend’s games, Princeton has five more Ivy League matchups and is currently two games clear of the second place team in the standings, Penn.
The Crimson stands in third in the Ivy League standings, and although Dartmouth is currently sitting in fifth and in the midst of a four game losing streak, the Big Green is the Ivy League team that came the closest to beating Princeton, coming up short by only 12 points. Harvard came the second closest, losing by 16 points. While a double-digit margin is by no means considered a close outcome, Princeton has been breezing through games against its opponents in the Ivy League, winning by an average of 33 points.
This past Monday, senior guard Niveen Rasheed was awarded the Ivy League Player of the Week for the fourth week in a row and the sixth time this season. Rasheed is averaging 17 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists in the season.
“Niveen is an incredible player,” senior guard Lauren Polansky said. “Her relentless fight, offensive attack and will to win inspires everyone on the team and is a huge part of our team’s success. The team is extremely proud of her countless individual successes and motivated by the way she comes to battle every single night.”
The Tigers embark on their final road trip of the season this weekend. Their only losses this season have been in away games.
“Playing home and away are very different,” junior forward Kristen Helmstetter said. “We absolutely love playing in Jadwin [Gymnasium], we have a great group of fans including both the community and friends from the University that come out to support us. Playing away however, gives us a little bit of extra fight. No one wants to lose at home in their own gym so you always have to play like you’re down by 10.”
Senior center Megan Bowen said that though previous Ivy League weekends on the road have gone well, Princeton needs to be prepared should their offensive output slow down.
“When this happens, you have to be ready to up your defense and be able to rely on your outside game over your inside game or vice versa,” Bowen said.
The Princeton players and coaches have been anticipating the unique matchups and strengths of both Harvard and Dartmouth in practice this week.
“Harvard and Dartmouth are two very different teams,” said Helmstetter. “Harvard is a good team, they have several good shooters and an inside threat. The one aspect of Harvard’s game that we can exploit is their defense. We need to have the confidence to take them one-on-one and we will come out on top this weekend. Dartmouth has a solid lead guard who played well against us last game and their forwards are strong on the boards. In order to be successful against them this weekend we need to lock down on defense and defend our own.”
Bowen noted that the Tiger defense will need to work to contain a strong Harvard offense and that Dartmouth’s offensive strategy is much different.
“In terms of Dartmouth, they like to slow the game and generate less possessions,” Bowen said. “We will have to look to our transition game to generate more possessions and when we do get into quarter-court offense, value each possession”
The Tigers partly attribute their success this season, especially in Ivy League play, to a strong non-conference schedule and team chemistry.
“There are a lot of factors that have led us to our current record in Ivy League, such as our hard work in practice and the efforts every one put in during their summers and preseason,” Bowen said. “A key factor I would point to would definitely be our strong non-conference schedule. We knew that with the teams we were playing it would not be easy but playing teams like UCLA and DePaul have definitely prepared us and attributed to our success in league play thus far.”
Helmstetter also pointed to the team’s ability to play well together as a key factor in Princeton’s succes.
“The Ivy League isn’t easy and you need to have teammates who support you off the floor and I think that our trust in one another is evident especially on the defensive end,” Helmstetter said.
The Tigers are excited about setting a new Ivy League record for consecutive victories this past weekend but noted that they have set their sights on the higher goal of an NCAA championship.
“It is a special feeling to set a record with a team like this,” said Bowen. “We all work so hard every single day — working just as hard in practices as we battle in games — so when that work pays off, we definitely appreciate the success. A record such as a win streak, however, is merely one achievement along our journey to greater goals.”
Despite their dominance in Ivy League play, the Tigers still maintain the imperative to improve, especially for the NCAA tournament, where they hope to advance past the first round for the first time.
“In order to be successful moving forward we really need to focus on pushing our aggressive mentality 1-12,” said Polansky. “For us to achieve our goals it will be necessary for everyone to have an aggressive mindset on offense, grow our fast break attacks and maintain our relentless defense.”