The unstoppable and undefeated Tigers have a lot to celebrate after clinching the Ivy League title and a spot in the NCAA tournament after 70-37 and 63-44 victories over Cornell and Columbia, respectively, this weekend. The Tigers (29-0 overall, 13-0 Ivy League) have the best starting record of any team in Ivy League history and are currently ranked 13th in the Associated Press Poll and 14th in the USA Today Coaches Poll and are the second team in the nation to secure an NCAA tournament berth after Tennessee State, which won the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament a few hours earlier.
The game against Cornell saw two Tigers score in double figures, with senior guard Blake Dietrick and junior guard Michelle Miller leading the pack with 15 points each. Dietrick also recorded six assists and four boards, while Miller managed to finish with three assists and eight rebounds.
Princeton netted the first eight points of the game, which opened with a Dietrick layup. Junior guard Alex Wheatley quickly grabbed possession after a missed shot by Cornell forward Nia Marshall to score a jumper of her own. Junior guard Amanda Berntsen and Wheatley both chipped in with layups of their own before a Dietrick three. Cornell’s first points of the game came at 16:20 on a three-pointer by guard Christine Kline. Princeton held Cornell without any field goals for just under four minutes, after which Marshall scored two more points on a jumper to bring the score to 15-7. Halfway through the period, the Tigers found themselves up by 13 after a Dietrick three. The Tigers built up another run in which they went 12-2 in just under three minutes, further pulling ahead to build a 20-point lead over the Big Red on three-pointers from Dietrick and junior guard Annie Tarakchian and two layups from senior forward Mariah Smith to lead 33-13. The first half ended with the Tigers continuing to dominate, pulling ahead with sophomore guard Vanessa Smith netting four points before another jumper from Miller. The period ended with a jumper from Marshall with less than 20 seconds left on the clock to leave the score 39-19 at halftime.
The Tigers shot a scorching 65.4 percent from the floor and an insane 83.3 percent from behind the arc during the first half and held the Big Red to just 25.0 percent on field goals. The Tigers let this momentum carry them into the second half of the game, opening the period with a Miller layup, free throw and three-pointer in quick succession. The Tigers kept the Big Red in a scoring drought until 13:26 and without a field goal until 12:49. Until a layup by Cornell guard Kerri Moran, the Tigers went 26-8 to bring the score to 65-27. The Tigers led by as much as 38 during the second half, making Friday’s game the 23rd time this season the Tigers had a lead of at least 20 points and the 15th time the Orange and Black led by at least 30.
The game against Columbia had the Tigers itching to cut the nets as the Tigers secured a spot atop the Ivy League and a NCAA postseason tournament berth for the fifth time in six seasons. Dietrick was the only Tiger to score in double digits, leading the team with 17 points, while Tarakchian fell just short of recording a double-double, finishing the game with nine points and nine boards. Miller also was a contributing factor to the victory, finishing the game with eight points, two rebounds and two assists.
The Tigers and Lions exchanged shots during the first few minutes of play to bring the score to 4-4, but Princeton quickly picked up steam and powered through Columbia. Starting at 17:26, the Tigers pulled together a strong run in which they went 19-6 in 7:23 to leave them up by 13 with the score at 23-10. The streak started with a Dietrick layup, followed by a Miller three pointer and a pair of Berntsen layups, which allowed the Tigers to pull ahead. With just under two minutes left in the period, the Lions came within six points of the Tigers after a jumper by Columbia forward Camille Zimmerman. The Tigers responded dominantly, with Tarakchian netting a three and a layup while Wheatley scored another point for the Tigers from behind the charity stripe. The period ended with a pair of Dietrick free throws that left the halftime score at 36-23.
The Tigers scored the first four points of the second period on a Tarakchian free throw and Miller three before the Lions could answer with a three of their own from Zimmerman. A three by Berntsen and a Columbia free throw, followed by a layup by Lion forward Tori Oliver preceded a 7-0 Tiger run. Princeton led by as much as 26 points with 3:24 left on the clock after a pair of free throws by junior forward Taylor Williams.
The Tigers shot 46.9 percent from the floor and 54.5 percent from behind the arc, holding the Lions to shooting 33.3 percent on field goals and 25.0 percent on three pointers.The Tigers will close their regular season against Ivy League runner-up Penn this Tuesday, hoping to complete a perfect regular season.