Women’s hoops dominates Ivy bottom feeders, inches closer to Tournament berth| Feb 18, 2018
Many times following an emotional victory, we hear of top teams falling victim to “trap games,” games against inferior opponents that may be overlooked. Princeton women’s basketball faced two potential trap games this weekend, but made sure to dominate those opponents, just like they dominated Penn last Tuesday.
The Tigers — leaders of the Ivy League — took care of business this weekend with consecutive road victories at Cornell and Columbia, the league’s current seventh and eighth place teams. Now sitting at 9–1 in league play, Princeton is three games clear of the current fifth place team, the Dartmouth Big Green. With only four games to go in the season, this means that Princeton is almost at a lock to make their second consecutive Ivy League Tournament, barring an unexpected and dramatic collapse.
Friday’s matchup against the Big Red pitted Princeton’s league-leading defense, surrendering an average of only 54.3 points per game, against Cornell’s offense, which averages 55.1 points per game and is the worst in the league by a large margin. Unsurprisingly, Cornell had a tough time scoring anything against the Tigers; it took them nearly the entirety of the first quarter before they made their first basket.
Stephanie Umeh was the lone bright spot for Cornell on offense; she scored 12 points off of 6 for 7 shooting and added three steals in 18 minutes off the bench. Samantha Widmann, sixth on the Ivy League leaderboard in field goal percentage, was held to make only 1 in 6 attempts on the night.
The Tigers also held an opponent without a made three-pointer for the first time in nearly four years; Cornell became the first team since March 7, 2014 to not sink a long-ranged shot against the Tigers (humorously, the 2014 opponent was also Cornell). On the flipside, many Tigers found their shooting rhythm early and never let up. Junior forward Sydney Jordan tallied a career high 12 points on a perfect 6 for 6 evening from the floor; it’s her third game in the past two seasons in which she did not miss a single shot. Two other Tigers also scored in double figures; sophomore forward Bella Alarie led all players with 18 points, while senior guard Tia Weledji added 11 points. The Tigers never trailed in this game and led by as much as 35 as time was winding down.
On Saturday, the Tigers headed to the Big Apple to take on the Ivy League’s top scorer Camille Zimmerman and the rest of the Columbia squad. Leading the league in points per game, rebounds per game, and free throw percentage, the Tigers knew that Zimmerman had the potential to end their strong week on a sour note. Princeton focused on shutting down the Lions’ playmaker, holding her to only 3 for 18 shooting and nine rebounds, forcing the other players on Columbia to beat them.
For three quarters, the Lions remained competitive, showing a strong amount of fight for a team whose postseason hopes ended weeks ago. However, the Tigers pulled away late, taking a 15 point lead into the final quarter and making sure the Lions never got close. As a team, Columbia shot only 28.8 percent, nearly matching their season low.
The Orange and Black, on the other hand, demonstrated a perfect example of team basketball; no one on Princeton scored more than eight points, yet as a team they shot over 55 percent. No matter who was on the floor, Princeton commanded the pace of play. They reminded everyone that while they certainly have individuals capable of posting fantastic numbers, they also have the depth and ability to beat teams without a single player taking full control of a game.
After a perfect 3–0 week for the Tigers, they get set for the final push of regular season play. The Tigers have four games remaining on the schedule, three of which are against teams currently in the hunt for Ivy League Tournament berths. Up next weekend is Princeton’s final road trip of the season, up to the far reaches of the Ivy League to take on Dartmouth and Harvard. If they earn a win in either of those two games, the Tigers will punch their ticket to Philadelphia for a chance to claim an NCAA Tournament berth.