This weekend the women's basketball team will have a road trip against Ivy rivals Columbia and Cornell. Despite opening the season with three losses in its first five games, and four in its first seven, the team has recovered to an 11-6 record overall, and 2-1 in Ivy League play.
The first game of the series is against Columbia on Friday evening. Columbia has a 4-14 overall record and is 1-3 in Ivy League play. This will be Princeton's first meeting against Columbia, with the teams scheduled to play again at Princeton on March 8.
The Tigers defeated the Lions in both games last year. Two of the leading scorers in the first matchup were Blake Dietrick, now a junior, and Kristen Helmstetter, now a senior. After the graduation of last year's seniors, who helped Princeton win four straight Ivy titles, the remaining upperclass players have had to lead this year's team. Dietrick is first on the team with points, having scored 247, and Helmstetter is second with 197.
“I am honored that my team selected me to be one of our team's co-captains this year,” Helmstetter said. “As a leader, one of my jobs is to hold my teammates accountable and in order to do that I try and hold myself accountable everyday. Our team is full of amazing people and they make me a better person and leader each day.”
On Saturday, Princeton will take on Cornell in Ithaca. Cornell has a record of 11-7, and is 3-1 in Ivy matches. This is again only the first of two matches between the teams, as Cornell will visit Jadwin Gym on March 7.
Last year, the Tigers were also 2-0 against Cornell, with those games (especially the second) being some of Princeton's lowest scoring games. Helmstetter feels that against both Columbia and Cornell, defense will be a major factor.
“The team has prepared for our next two games by focusing on ourselves,” she said. “We have spent a lot of time this past week working on defense, which I think will play a large role in the outcomes of each game this weekend. As a whole we have gotten better and I look forward to playing Columbia and Cornell.”
After this series, Princeton has nine more games left in the season.All of the remaining games are against Ivy opponents, and five of the games are at home.
“I look forward to the rest of the season because we are going to be really good. We take each game one at a time,” Helmstetter said. “The great thing about the Ivy League is that we play back to back, so it can be any team on any night. If we put in the work, we will come out on top.”