After the first weekend of the season, the women’s basketball team continues its streak of success in regular season play,opening 2015-2016 with wins over American University and Duquesne University.
The Tigers (2-0 overall) came into Friday night ready to repeat last year’s success over the Eagles, whom they defeated 63-56 in the previous year. The early goings of Friday night’s contest, however, were not a highlight reel for either team. A Tiger offense that was red-hot for most of last season put up a mere seven points in the first quarter. The Eagles (0-1 overall) themselves fared even worse, scoring only two through the first ten minutes. Overall, the teams were an abysmal 3-27 shooting in the first quarter. The lack of fire from the offense seemed to have extended to the crowd as well – the subdued Tigers faithful seemed to wait on edge, ready for the home team to find their groove once more.
For Princeton, these early game jitters were not indicative of their performance as a whole. The Orange and Black found their groove near the end of the second quarter, behind particularly strong rebounding and offensive performance from senior forward Annie Tarakchian. Indeed, perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing play of the quarter was Tarakchian’s slipping past the Eagles’ defense for a flip shot and-one, igniting a fire back into a Princeton crowd just waiting for their Tigers to roar.
The momentum, belonging to no one at the beginning of the first quarter, was firmly in the Tigers’ hands by the end of the second. While the Tigers only shot 25.9 percent in the first half, they still held a 27-14 lead. Moreover, they left such play far behind in the second half.
The third quarter would feature the Tigers getting it going from the outside: four three pointers came from senior guard Michelle Miller, senior guard Amanda Berntsen and junior guard Taylor Brown. By the end of the third, the Eagles looked up to find themselves in an even deeper hole at 47-22. The Tigers continued to stay locked in from the outside in the fourth, putting in five in the quarter, to seal the deal handily 72-34. On the game, Tarakchian was the star with a season-opening double-double, with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Next leading scorers on the team were Miller and junior forward Jackie Reyneke, with nine and eight points, respectively.
While the Tigers started out slow to open the season, they faced no such problems as they took on Duquesne (1-1 overall) on Sunday afternoon. The Tigers scored 27 points in the first quarter alone, already matching their total from the first half against American — Duquesne responded with merely 14. The difference in performance from Friday night to Sunday afternoon was evident in the Tigers’ shooting — they shot 59.5 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from downtown in the first 20 minutes. Their defensive effort was nothing to be scoffed at, as they held the visitors to 37.9 percent.
The Dukes did not hold the lead once over the course of the game as the Tigers rolled on to a 94-66 victory. The workload for the game was distributed across the senior class — Tarakchian repeated her strong showing from Friday with another double-double, posting 19 points and 10 boards. Senior guard Alex Wheatley flirted with one herself, putting up 16 points and seven boards on an efficient 7-11 shooting performance. Senior forward Taylor Williams added 11 to the game, and Miller would prove to be the leading scorer, with a hot night of 24 points to lead all players.
With her great performance over the two games, in which she averaged 19.5 points and 11 boards, Tarakchian was named Ivy League Women's Basketball Player of the Week. This was Tarakchian's sixth such award of her career.
Looking forward, the Tigers will play their first road game this Thursday at 7 p.m., taking on Seton Hall. The game can be viewed on Fox Sports 2.