After defeating Dartmouth and Harvard this weekend, it looks like an undefeated season might just be with the reach of the Princeton women’s basketball team. On Friday, the Tigers steamrolled the Big Green 70-31, and they went on to crush Harvard 78-57 on Saturday. The Tigers are now 25-0 with a record of 9-0 against Ivy League opponents, and are currently No. 16 in the Associated Press Top - 25 Poll and No. 17 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
Against Dartmouth (11-13 overall, 2-8 Ivy League), the Tigers were actually down for the first minute and a half after a three-pointer and layup by Dartmouth’s Lakin Roland. Junior forward Alex Wheatley netted Princeton’s first points of the game on a layup and the Tigers kicked into action to remove the deficit. Her basket started a 20-5 run for the Tigers over the next 9:26 that left the Tigers up 22-8. During that run, Wheatley netted four straight points and, after a Roland free throw, the Tigers managed to score seven points without the Big Green scoring any, due to a jumper by junior guard Michelle Miller, a layup from junior forward Taylor Williams and a three from junior guard/forward Annie Tarakchian. The Tigers maintained the 14-point lead over the Big Green until, with less than three minutes left in the period, the Tigers managed to pull ahead more on a pair of Miller jumpers, leaving the score 30-12 at halftime.
During the first half of the Dartmouth game, the Orange and Black gave up the fewest points of any period this season, keeping Dartmouth shooting at a cool 17.2 percent. And the second half wasn’t any easier for the Big Green. The Tigers opened the second period by scoring the first 12 points, with Wheatley netting six of them in a row on a trio of layups in just under a minute. The Big Green got on the scoreboard again with a free throw at 16:32, but didn’t manage to net a field goal during the second half for nine minutes.
Three Tigers shot in the double digits, with Wheatley leading the pack with 20 points. Tarakchian, who has managed to turn in eight double-doubles this season, nearly had a triple-double during the game, with 11 points, eight assists and 14 rebounds. Miller rounded out the trio with 12 points.
During the Harvard game, only two Tigers shot in the double digits, led by senior guard Blake Dietrick with 23 points, eight assists and five rebounds and followed by Tarakchian with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Sophomore guard Vanessa Smith also flirted with a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds.
The Harvard game, in addition to putting the Tigers within five games of an undefeated season, leaves head coach Courtney Banghart with 163 coaching wins with Princeton, tied with Joan Kowalik for the most in program history.
The Tigers opened the game with a Dietrick three and midrange jumper, which, given the baskets from Harvard’s Temi Fagbenle and teammate AnnMarie Healy, left the Tigers up 5-4. The Crimson then put together a strong 11-4 run in just under 10 minutes to leave the Tigers down 9-15 with less than nine minutes left in the period. A layup from Smith ended the Crimson run and jump-started the Tiger offense into gear, as the Tigers scored the next 11 points in a row, assisted by a Dietrick three and layup and a pair of layups from Wheatley. Harvard worked to keep it close — at 2:24 the Crimson came within two points of the Tigers on a layup from Fagbenle. However, layups from Wheatley and Tarakchian, combined with another Dietrick three, ensured that the Tigers stayed in the lead, finishing the period with a nine-point lead over Harvard and a score of 28-19.
The second half started with the Tiger lead shrinking again as Harvard came within five points of Princeton, but the Crimson were no match for the Tigers, who pulled together to keep pulling away for the rest of the half, pulling off a quick 12-4 run. Tarakchian scored the first Tiger points of the period before four Dietrick layups, three within less than a minute of each other, and a layup from junior guard Amanda Berntsen left the Tigers up 13. The Tigers then pulled quickly out of reach, eventually pulling off a 23-point lead with less than a minute left in the game. After shooting a low 30.8 percent during the first half, the Tigers shot a scorching 61.5 percent during the second half, keeping the Crimson to 36.2 percent for the game. Shooting wasn't the Tigers' only strong facet — they matched their highest number of rebounds this season with 53 in this standout performance.