This winter break, the Princeton women’s basketball team hit a speed bump in Ohio before regaining ground with two leisurely wins against Marist and Hampton.
On Friday, Dec. 18, a formidable Ohio State team defeated Princeton 90-70. In their first away game since a four-game home stand, the Tigers were unable to extend their seven-game win streak.
Led by the duo of Ameryst Alston and Kelsey Mitchell, the Buckeyes held the edge throughout the game. The only time Princeton gained a lead was at 10-9, halfway into the first quarter. In a resounding response, the Buckeyes finished the quarter on a 15-2 run. After suffering from a 23-5 Ohio State run, Princeton crept to within 10 points in the second quarter, but another 18-6 OSU run at the end of the first half locked the Tigers out of their rhythm for the rest of the game.
In an impressive offensive performance, the Buckeyes shot 57.6 percent from the field. Alston and Mitchell led the charge with 27 and 25 points, respectively. Far from being the lone shooters, Alston and Mitchell together racked up nine assists.
Senior guard Michelle Miller led the Tigers with 21 points and five rebounds. However, the Buckeye defense limited the Tigers to just under 40 percent from the field, even though they had entered the game with a 45.4 percent shooting average.
Another statistic that deviated from Princeton’s season average was total rebounds. The Tigers had claimed 46.2 rebounds per game compared to Ohio State’s 37.9, but Princeton and Ohio State each grabbed just 33 rebounds.
Although the Tigers’ loss to Ohio State dealt them a setback, playing a Big Ten team gave them a chance to test their wits against a powerful, athletic team — an opportunity unmatched by previous non-conference games this season. Ohio State put on one of its best performances of the season against Princeton and would go on to defeat No. 6 Maryland on Saturday. The Buckeyes are now 10-3 and ranked No. 9.
Two days after playing in Columbus, the Tigers challenged the University of Dayton. Despite a noble effort by Princeton, Dayton took the game 85-81.
The Tigers trailed for much of the game and found themselves in a 32-47 hole by the end of the first half. Despite stronger play in the second half, Princeton could not recover its lost ground. The Tigers opened the third quarter with an 11-2 run, but the Flyers would respond by pushing the lead back out to double digits, ending the quarter up by 11.
Princeton saw a glimmer of hope in the fourth quarter. An 11-0 run with 6:34 to go helped tie up the game at 71 apiece, but Dayton's Jenna Burdette stopped the streak with a layup. With Dayton up 80-75 under the one-minute mark, senior guard Amanda Berntsen scored a three and Miller netted a jumper to creep up on Dayton, but freshman Ashleigh Parkinson nailed three of her four free throws to put the game out of reach for the Orange and Black.
Senior forward Annie Tarakchian scored a game-high 23 points on 50 percent shooting and claimed eight rebounds. Senior forward Alex Wheatley scored 15 points while Miller and Berntsen each scored 14 points. Burdette led the Dayton side with 22 points.
Princeton was held to 40 percent shooting overall but grabbed 46 rebounds. Dayton did slightly better with 44.1 percent shooting but trailed Princeton by six rebounds.
On December 29, Marist gave Princeton a respite from its challenge in Ohio. Princeton earned a 77-44 win against the New York team.
The Tigers ended the first quarter on a 7-0 run and secured a 41-25 lead by halftime. A 13-4 run at the start of the third quarter helped solidify Princeton’s lead.
Miller and junior guard Vanessa Smith led the charge with 16 and 15 points, respectively, as well as eight rebounds apiece. Wheatley also reached double digits with 13 points, converting six of eight field goal attempts. The team shot 44.8 percent from the floor while holding Marist to just 25 percent shooting. Tori Jarosz led the Dayton effort with 15 points. The Tigers outrebounded Marist 54-24, earning a season-high 31 rebounds in the second half.
This past Sunday, the women’s basketball team returned home for the new year to face Hampton. Princeton started strong on a 13-2 run and held its lead throughout the game. The Tigers continue to be undefeated at home after beating the Pirates 79-55.
Miller posted a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Princeton held Hampton to just 30.4 percent shooting from the field and out-rebounded its opponent 47-29. Wheatley also chipped in with 14 points, connecting on 7-of-13 field-goal attempts, and Berntsen contributed a game-high five assists. Hampton’s junior guard Malia Tate-DeFreitas scored a game-high 20 points but converted just 8-of-26 field-goal attempts.Princeton is now 11-3 overall after an exciting non-conference schedule. The Tigers will begin their Ivy League matchups at Penn on Saturday, Jan. 9.