The women’s basketball team will start its winter break off by hosting Delaware on Sunday afternoon. The Tigers (5-4) will return to Jadwin Gymnasium after finishing off a four-game road trip in which they won three of four matchups. Princeton will also be trying to achieve its first three game winning streak of the season. The Blue Hens (6-1) are on a hot streak of their own, having won five straight by at least ten points each.
While the Tigers have appeared to be struggling this year — they are tied with three other teams for third in the league — a large part of this can be attributed to their very tough schedule. The opponents that the Tigers have lost to are a combined 26-8. Princeton has been known to beat up on Ivy League opponents in previous years so it was mainly non-conference games that would determine its seeding in the NCAA tournament after Princeton would win the Ivy League title. For this reason, head coach Courtney Banghart has continued to give the Tigers increasingly difficult strength of schedules.
This year’s inexperienced squad is also starting tofind its rhythm as they adjust to one another and to the college pace of play. Sophomore guard Michelle Miller has really come on lately, earning her first Ivy League Player of the Week award after scoring 20 points against Navy in a win. She has also shot 61.9 percent from the field during the teams win streak.
Sophomore Taylor Williams has also been playing effectively, leading the league with a 65.9 field goal percentage. She averages just under eight points a game and 18.2 minutes despite having yet to start a game. She is also sixth in the league in blocks with nine.
Delaware has played outstanding defense all season, as they have held opponents to a mere 53.1 points per game. Thanks to an offense that averages 67.1 points per game, they have been outscoring opponents by an average of 14 points.
Princeton’s offense on the other hand has been even more outstanding with 75.8 points per game, but its defense has been struggling, giving up over 70 points a game.
Princeton’s rebounding has generally been a strength this season as the team has a rebounding margin of plus-8.4, but the Blue Hens have an even more impressive mark of plus-11.4. The game is likely to come down to how each team performs from beyond the arc, which Princeton’s defense has struggled to defend. The two teams are just about equally accurate from downtown but the Tigers average three more three-pointers per game.
After the game, the Tigers will play Illinois State on Wednesday. The Red Birds (1-5) should be an easier challenge for the Tigers. Their only win of the season has come by four points and they have lost their past two games. The game will likely be decided by how well Princeton’s defense plays. The Tigers have struggles defensively but the Red Birds are arguably amongst the worst offensive team the Tigers will play.
The Tigers will then have three more breaks before the end of break. They will travel to Charlottesville, Virginia for the Cavalier Classic the weekend after Christmas. They will play Alabama on Saturday, Dec. 28 and either Virginia or Coppin State the following day. The Tigers will then finish the break off with a visit to Philadelphia to take on Drexel on Sunday, Dec. 15.