The record-breaking women’s basketball team put another exciting weekend on the books as the Tigers (27-0 overall, 11-0 Ivy) cruised through victories over Yale and Brown. This weekend, as the Tigers set a program record for the most wins in a single season, head coach Courtney Banghart also broke the record for the most coaching victories in program history, just days after junior guard Michelle Miller was named to the College Sports Information Directors of America/Capital One Academic All-America third team. This weekend’s dominant performance brought the Tigers even closer to a perfect season as the Tigers defeated Yale 67-49 and Brown 79-67.
After a close victory over Yale earlier this season and the smallest margin of victory the Tigers have seen this entire season, the Tigers had little trouble pushing past the Bulldogs a second time around on Friday night. The Yale game marked Banghart’s 164th career win, allowing her to pass Joan Kowalik in the record books and giving her the most victories as a coach in program history. Banghart has led the Tigers to four conference championships, and, under her guidance, the Tigers have a 89-17 record in Ivy League play.
Two Tigers scored in the double digits on Friday night, with senior guard Blake Dietrick leading the pack with 18 points, five assists, three boards and two steals. Junior guard/forward Annie Tarakchian followed, scoring 16 points and six rebounds.
The game opened with a Dietrick layup after junior forward Alex Wheatley won the opening tip. Yale’s Whitney Wyckoff responded with a jumper, but the Tigers didn’t let the Bulldogs gain any momentum, scoring the next nine points of the game on a three pointer and layup from Tarakchian, a layup from Dietrick and a layup by junior guard Amanda Berntsen, leaving the Tigers up 11-2. Bulldog Emmy Allen managed to score three points on a layup and a free throw, but the Tigers managed to start another run, scoring seven points in just over a minute, sparked by a Tarakchian layup and followed by a layup and three from Dietrick. The Tigers maintained their lead, managing to pull ahead by 15 with just under seven minutes left in the period off a pair of free throws from sophomore guard Vanessa Smith. The final run of the period came with less than two minutes left in the period as a Dietrick layup, a Berntsen bucket and a free throw from senior forward Mariah Smith stretched the Tiger lead from 11 to 16 points to close out the half.
The second period opened with a layup from Dietrick less than 20 seconds into the half. The rest of the game followed with dominance from the Tigers, who powered past the Yale offense and defense, putting Princeton up by as much as 32 points with 13 minutes left on the clock. The game closed out with a layup by senior guard Alex Rodgers at 3:15 that led to a quick Yale run that ended with a jumper from Rodgers.
The victory over Brown broke the Princeton record for most wins in a single season, passing the 2009-10 previous best record of 26-3. The Tigers are only one game shy of matching the league record for the best start in Ivy League history, second to the 1970-71 Penn men’s team that went 28-0 to start their season.
Three Tigers scored in the double figures, with Miller leading the pack with 20 points. Dietrick also had a good game, finishing with 15 points, five assists and four boards. Wheatley was the third Tiger to score in the double digits, finishing with 16 points after going 6-for-6 from the field.
The Tigers opened the game with a Dietrick layup, but got off to a rocky start that left the squad down 13-12 with just over 12 minutes left in the period. A pair of Smith layups closed the gap, and the Tigers were able to stay ahead of the Bears for the rest of the game. Miller then scored five straight points on two layups and a free throw, and after a Tarakchian layup, Miller scored six more from behind the arc, leaving the Tigers up by six with 6:14 left on the clock. Brown rallied back to come within three points of the Tigers with 1:49 left in the period, but the Tigers managed to net four more points off a pair of Dietrick shots from the charity stripe and another layup from Miller.
The second half of the game saw Tarakchian net three points from behind the arc in the first 10 seconds of the period, followed soon after by a Wheatley layup and a Tarakchian jumper to put the Tigers up by 12 with their first double-digit lead of the game. The Bears didn’t get on the scoreboard during the second half until 15:14 on a trio of jumpers from Jordin Alexander. Brown shaved down the Tiger lead to only nine points with 11:31 left in the game, but the Tiger offense quickly kicked into gear with a layup from Wheatley and a three from Miller to push the lead back up to 14 points. The Tigers led by as much as 16 with only seven minutes left in the game, but Brown kept fighting, pushing the lead back down again to eight points on another jumper from Alexander with only 1:23 left on the clock. A three-pointer from sophomore guard Taylor Brown and a combined three Tiger free throws from Wheatley and Berntsen allowed the Tigers to reestablish their double figure lead, to close the game 12 points ahead of Brown, 79-63.
The Tigers will return to action next weekend with games against Cornell and Columbia before finishing their regular season with a game against Penn.