The women’s basketball team improved its record to 4-4 with a 16-point victory over Navy on Friday night. The Tigers defeated the Midshipmen (7-3) 73-57 in Annapolis, snapping Navy’s three-game win streak and ensuring Princeton would at least split its four-game road trip.
“We were happy to come away with a road win against a strong and experienced Navy team, especially after a tough loss to Oregon in which we let a half-time lead slip away,” sophomore guard Michelle Miller said. “On Friday, we were able to put two halves together, playing solid defense and staying aggressive offensively throughout the course of the game to get the win.”
Friday night’s win was the result of key contributions from several players who worked together up and down the court. Senior forward Kristen Helmstetter scored 18 points, shooting 60 percent from the field and 100 percent from the line as she scored her 500th career point. She finished the night with 503.
Three other notable performances came from the sophomore class. Guard Amanda Berntsen’s career-high 12 points, 10 of which came during the first half, helped the Tigers build their lead. Berntsen went six-for-nine from the floor, grabbed a career-best seven defensive rebounds, tied her career best of four assists and collected two steals. Classmate Miller was also on her A-game, netting 20 points, her season- and game-high. Miller went nine-for-12 from the field and tallied four assists. Sophomore guard/forward Annie Tarakchian led the Tigers with eight rebounds, seven of which were defensive.
“Our team has many offensive threats, both inside and outside, and I think our balance gives us the potential to be a great offensive team,” Miller said. “One of the things Coach mentioned before the game was that everyone just needed to play to their own strengths because we are all unique in our skill sets and complement each other well.”
Overall, Princeton dominated Navy in the stats book. The Tigers shot 50.9 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from the three-point line and 100 percent from the foul line. In contrast, the Midshipmen converted only 33.3 percent of their shots, 25 percent of their three-point attempts and 50 percent of their foul shots, missing eight chances. The score differential could have been reversed if the teams had performed differently at the foul line.
The Tigers had a strong defensive effort, too, outrebounding Navy 42-33 and holding the Mids 12 points below the Tigers’ average of 69.1 points allowed per game.
“We have really been focusing on our defensive energy and execution in practices, and I think our growth is starting to translate into games,” Miller said. “I think our posts did an especially good job containing their post player, Geif, who had hurt us in years past.”
Helmstetter’s shot in the opening minutes of the game helped Princeton grab the first lead 2-0. At 16:36, Navy was ahead 5-4, its only lead of the night. By the end of the first five minutes of play, however, Princeton had taken back the lead 6-5 with one layup by Berntsen. The Tigers opened the scoring margin to 15-5 at 12:26, but Navy fought back to bring the score within three just three minutes later. This was the closest the score would be for the remainder of the game.
With less than five minutes until halftime, Princeton picked up the momentum and put up 14 unanswered points to put the score comfortably at 29-12. The score was 36-22 by halftime. Princeton had netted 20 points from the paint and 10 off fast breaks.
Junior guard Blake Dietrick sunk a three-pointer to open the second half, giving the Tigers positive energy to start the half. Princeton was ahead 49-28 after the opening seven minutes of the second half. Navy never gave up but also never came close to making up that deficit.
The Tigers will travel to Binghamton on Wednesday night and then host Delaware and Illinois State on the afternoon of the 15th and evening of the 18th respectively before taking a 10-day hiatus from competition for the holidays.