In a gym teeming with Tiger supporters, the Princeton women’s basketball team defended their home court against their opponents of the north, as they took down the University of Michigan Wolverines (7-1) to the tune of 74-57 on Sunday afternoon. With the victory, they end Michigan’s status as undefeated on the season.
As their game was broadcasted on ESPN2, the Tigers (6-1) demonstrated that they were certainly no strangers to the spotlight, as their typically sizzling offense was in full force against their most recent foes.
Come the second quarter, the Tigers began to make some distance against the Wolverines. Senior forward Annie Tarakchian and senior guard Amanda Berntsen got it started for the Orange and Black with a three and layup, respectively. Indeed, the Tigers might have run away with this one early on had it not been for the efforts of one Michigan player — Katelynn Flaherty. She clearly found her rhythm early on in this contest, and began to rain three after three on the Tigers.
The impact was felt not just in the scoreboard. The large number of Tigers faithful seemed at points ready to explode, but the Flaherty’s efforts kept even the most eager of fans from celebrating prematurely.
Indeed, it was critical for the Tigers that they found a hot hand of their own in senior guard Michelle Miller. Miller, who currently stands second on this Tigers squad in points per game, found success in her jump shot as well, often matching a score from Flaherty with one of her own to keep up the Tigers’ healthy lead.
Despite strong Tigers’ play in the first half, turnovers would at times pose an issue for this team. Indeed, it was certainly frustrating for the Tigers that a turnover in the final few seconds of the half resulted in an easy Michigan layup, cutting the Princeton lead into the single digits as both teams headed into the locker room. The Tigers would ultimately commit 17 turnovers on the day, three above their season average. The Michigan defense chose a style conducive to this, pressuring the ball-handlers the entire length of the court and trying to trap Tiger players as much as possible.
The Tigers, however, responded with vigor in the opening minutes of the third quarter. A balanced attack from Berntsen, Miller and junior guard Vanessa Smith kept the momentum up for the Tigers’ offense. Had Flaherty not stepped up again — she scored seven of the first 10 Wolverine points to begin the third quarter — this one could have quickly gotten out of reach.
As the teams traded baskets and pushed the score out to 41-34, the Tigers chose then to pounce, going on an 8-0 run that was capitalized by a steal and score by sophomore forward Leslie Robinson. This play in particular caused the Princeton fans to roar, and indeed, Robinson herself seemed energized following her strip and score. She assisted on Princeton’s final two buckets of the half, one of them a particularly beautiful faked shot and dump down low to Wheatley.
Taking a 54-40 lead into the final quarter, Princeton would ultimately cruise to victory, as the lead never dipped below 12 for the rest of the game. Flaherty, single-handedly trying to drag her team to victory, put up 33 points in the outing. However, her efforts were matched by Miller, who earned 24 points and eight boards on the game for the Tigers.
With the victory in hand, the Tigers look forward to the second game of their four-game homestand this Tuesday, as they bring Monmouth University to campus at 7 p.m. The game can be viewed via the Ivy League Digital Network.