With 8:45 left in Saturday afternoon’s matchup against Georgetown, Princeton women’s basketball led by a comfortable score of 59-48. Still, the Tigers (8-0) hadn’t dominated the game in quite the manner they were accustomed to. They already owned the best record to start the season in Ivy League history and the Hoyas (2-7) were on a five-game slide and shooting just 35.7 percent from the field. Yet Georgetown was shooting over 40 percent against a Princeton team that has one of the best defenses in the country. Then the Tigers went on a ridiculous run and showed why they’ve been among college basketball’s most impressive teams this season.
They closed out the game with a 24-6 advantage, ending at a score of 83-54 and grabbing seven offensive boards to Georgetown’s four defensive. This led to a whopping 16 shots attempted, and as a result of the Hoyas’ undisciplined defense, an equally preposterous 11 free throws attempted. The Tigers only shot 43.75 percent from the field during the run, not even equalling their season average! It also helped that Georgetown couldn’t buy a basket, going two of 14 and missing several easy chances.
Senior guard Blake Dietrick led the way for Princeton with 26 points and six assists. Junior forward Alex Wheatley shot seven of eight in the first half on her way to 17 points and eight rebounds for the game. Junior forward Annie Tarakchian had a game-high nine rebounds and junior forward Taylor Williams contributed eight in limited action. The Tigers pulled in an incredible 24 offensive rebounds, their highest total since recording 25 against Florida State in the NCAA tournament two years ago. Neither team shot particularly well, with Princeton shooting 40.9 percent overall and 27.8 percent from three to Georgetown’s 34.5 percent and 14.3 percent, respectively.
The Tigers travel to Ann Arbor Tuesday night to face Michigan in a battle that, if won, could push Princeton from receiving votes in the AP poll to the top 25. Only one Ivy League team has ever achieved that status, and it was the Tigers themselves appearing at No. 24 in March 2012. But first, the Wolverines (6-1) loom. They average 73 points per game while allowing 61.9, a respectable margin. Their biggest strengths are three-point shooting,where they rank fourth in the country at 42.7 percent and rebounding, where they sport a +9.7 margin, 25th best in the country. Guard Katelynn Flaherty is the leading scorer at 14.9 points per game, although three teammates are also in double figures. Forward Cyesha Goree provides Michigan’s inside presence, shooting 52.9 percent and averaging 10.4 rebounds per game.
Princeton, meanwhile, averages 71 points per game, shooting 45 percent overall and 37.8 percent from beyond the arc. Opponents have scored just 51.4 points per game and shot 32.4 percent, both marks ranking the Tigers in the top 15 in the country. Their rebounding margin of +9.4 is also among the nation’s best and will make for an interesting battle with Michigan’s equally elite squad. Dietrick is Princeton’s leading scorer at 13.9 points per game, shoots 44.2 percent from deep and also averages 4.63 assists per game. Tarakchian averages 8.9 rebounds per game and shoots 48.1 percent from three.According to the latest RPI rankings, Princeton is the 15th best team in college basketball. Michigan ranks 50th and is likely the toughest opponent the Tigers will face in the regular season. The teams have two common opponents this season, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest. Princeton beat up on the Panthers, 59-43, in the season opener, while Michigan got drubbed, 85-64. The Demon Deacons fell to the Wolverines, 63-49, and the Tigers, 72-55.