In its first game of the new year and its final non-conference matchup of the regular season, the women’s basketball team took down Drexel on Saturday afternoon with a 66-59 win in Philadelphia.
After scoring fewer than 60 points for the first time this season in a 69-57 loss to Virginia on Dec. 29, the Tigers (9-5) continued their slow offensive performance in the first half against the Dragons (5-8), though opening three-pointers from sophomore guard Michelle Miller and junior guard Blake Dietrick put Princeton up 6-0 in the game’s opening minutes.
The Tigers’ 11-5 lead with 12:43 remaining in the first half crumpled, as they went 0 for 5 from the field and surrendered a pair of three-pointers in a 12-0 run by Drexel. Miller made two from behind the arc in the final minutes of the half, but the Tigers went to the locker room down 25-23. Twenty-three first half points is a season-low for the Tigers, as they only shot 33.3 percent (9 for 27) from the field.
The second half was a grind for both sides, as neither could find a way to gain an advantage. The score differential was never more than two points through the first 14 minutes of the second half. Miller’s two-point jumper with 5:40 remaining in the game put the Tigers up 53-49, but a layup and steal by guard Alexis Smith helped Drexel even the score at 56 with just over two minutes to play. A three from Miller with 1:54 remaining was the final nail in the coffin for Drexel, as the Tigers made five free throws in the final minute of the game to solidify the seven-point victory.
Saturday’s win was marked by great play from Princeton’s starters, as sophomore forward Alex Wheatley ended with 10 points, four rebounds and two assists and Dietrick put up 18, her sixth consecutive game in double figures. She was one rebound shy of recording her first career double-double. Miller stood out above all, though, as she had one of the best games of her collegiate career. The Pasadena native put up a career-high 23 points and matched a career-best of eight rebounds over her 32 minutes on the floor.
The Tigers have not seen the last of Philadelphia this season, however, as they will return to the City of Brotherly Love this Saturday for an even more important game: their Ivy League opener at Penn. While the Tigers beat the Quakers (7-2) handily in last season’s matchup in the Palestra, Penn’s 46-44 win over Drexel on Dec. 21 indicates that they could pose as tough of a test as the one the Tigers faced over the weekend. Princeton will have a three-week hiatus after Saturday, before the team enters the heart of its Ivy League schedule on Friday, Jan. 31, as the team takes on Harvard in Jadwin Gymnasium.
Tip off for this Saturday’s game against Penn is set for 3 p.m. at the Palestra in Philadelphia. After dropping the first two games of their season in their home gymnasium, the Quakers are on a seven game winning streak.