Women's basketball tries to maintain streak; Men's team looks to bounce back after road trip| Mar 5, 2015
In a season that has defied even the loftiest of expectations, the No. 13 women’s basketball team looks to keep its perfect season alive. The Tigers will travel through the Empire State in the second half of their road trip, taking on the Cornell Big Red and the Columbia Lions as the season nears its end.
Princeton (27-0 overall, 11-0 Ivy League) has been at the top of the Ivy League statistical measures across the board — it ranks first in points per game (by a 12-point margin), field goal percentage (shooting nearly 50 percent as a team on the season), rebounds per game (42.4) and assists per game (17.3). Having all but secured a bid to the NCAA March Madness tournament, the Tigers look to take down two teams they absolutely demolished earlier in the season.
Of the two New York teams, Cornell looks to be the bigger challenge. The Big Red (15-11, 6-6) comes into this weekend ranked third in the league and have on its roster Nia Marshall,who ranks third in the Ivy League in points per game (16.7). Princeton, however, comes in with four players scoring in the double digits. Senior guard Blake Dietrick and junior forward Annie Tarakchian have been stars this year — Dietrick leads the Tigers in scoring at 14.9 a game, and Tarakchian has been averaging a near double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds per game. However, if any of the Ivy teams is going to give Princeton a fight for the boards (and not many have), it’d be Cornell, the team that gives up the second fewest rebounds in the league.
After taking on Cornell, the Tigers will travel to the Big Apple to engage in a battle of the jungle cats. The Columbia Lions (8-18, 2-10) currently rank dead last in the Ivy League and are hoping to get a signature win to counterbalance their rough season. History certainly doesn’t favor their side; the last time these two teams met, Princeton annihilated Columbia 83-44. However, Columbia’s stats aren’t as bad as its record might imply. Although the Lions rank sixth in field goal percentage, they rank around middle of the league in many other statistical categories. While the Tigers have beaten more challenging teams than Columbia, the Lions certainly don’t look to go down without a fight.
With its four-game road trip behind them, the Princeton men’s basketball team will return home for its final home games of the season, taking on the Big Red and the Lions.
The Tigers (13-14 overall, 6-5 Ivy League), ranked third in the Ivy League, look to end their regular season on a high note after getting knocked out of the Ivy League title race this past weekend. They went 2-2 in their four-game road trip, falling to Harvard and Yale (who are tied for No. 1 in the conference), and defeating Dartmouth and Brown. This weekend’s home games look to be exciting ones, as the Tigers’ opponents are ranked directly behind them in the Ivy League standings.
Cornell (13-15, 5-7 Ivy League) looks to get a second win against the Tigers this year. Unlike Princeton, the Cornell team has had its fair share of struggles on the offensive end, ranking seventh in the league in points per game and dead last in field goal percentage. Even during Princeton’s loss to Cornell earlier this season, the Big Red had its usual trouble from the field. However, in that particular game, a normally strong Tigers offense shot worse, shooting at a 32.7 percent rate in the loss.
The Big Red offense and defense center around forward Shonn Miller, who has bounced back marvelously this year after missing all of last season because of injury. Putting up 5.33 points, 8.3 boards and 1.9 blocks a game, he will be on the Tigers’ radar every minute he is on the floor. In addition to Miller, guards Galal Cancer, Robert Hatter and Devin Cherry round out the offense. While all of these three players score around 10 points a game, they’ve struggled with efficiency — none of them shoots above 40 percent.
In contrast, the Tigers have had very strong offensive production this season. Sophomore wing Spencer Weisz has continued his great playing after earning Ivy League Rookie of the Year last season; he’s displayed all-around excellence on the season, putting up 11.7 points, 4.9 steals and 2.7 assists per game. Alongside with Weisz, Cornell must watch out for sophomore guard Stephen Cook, who at times has been lights out, and junior forward Hans Brase, who is able to both stretch the defense and get points down low.
Tigers faithfuls hope Brase and Cook can avoid a repeat of their performances the last time facing Cornell, where Brase went 0-7 and Cook went 3-15.
After Cornell, the Tigers will play Columbia at Jadwin Gymnasium, their last home game in the regular season. The Lions (13-13, 5-7) hope to avenge a home court loss against Princeton earlier in the season. They will certainly rely heavily on Maodo Lo, who leads the Ivy League in points per game, scoring 17.6 on an efficient 48.1 percent shooting. Against the Tigers last time, he stuffed the stat sheet with 21 points, 5 boards and 5 assists. Moreover, Kyle Castlin has been a revelation for the Lions, as he’s currently second on the team in scoring, bringing in just over 10 points a game.
Columbia doesn’t have much trouble with scoring — it’s in the upper half of the Ivy League in terms of points. In its last game against the Tigers, defense was the main issue. The Lions gave up 74 points on 54 percent shooting (60 percent from behind the arc). If the Tigers run the offense the way they have all season, the Lions could be in for a long night on Saturday.