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Carlie Littlefield was named to the All-Tournament team for her play in Cancun

By Jack Graham

Early-season woes continued for women’s basketball (1–6 overall) over Thanksgiving break. After being swept in the Cancun Challenge, the Tigers have now lost six in a row after their opening night win. Without standout junior guard/forward Bella Alarie in the lineup sidelined by a broken arm, the Tigers have struggled on defense and been exposed by high powered offensive teams.

Going into the season, the Cancun Challenge was seen as a chance for Princeton to insert itself into the national conversation. Two games against ranked teams plus a third against a tough Kansas State squad would show whether the Tigers could compete with the nation’s best. After three straight losses — all by double digits — Princeton heads home hoping to rally and gain momentum in its remaining non-conference games.

The bright spot for the Tigers during the Cancun Challenge was sophomore guard Carlie Littlefield. She averaged 16 points and four rebounds per game in the tournament and was named to the All-Tournament Team. She also took home Ivy League Player of the Week honors for her performance in the three-game set, the second time in her career she’s won the award. In the final tournament game against Kansas State, she matched a career best 22 points.

Outside of Littlefield’s 47 percent shooting, the Tigers had very little success scoring. Princeton averaged just over 35 percent in the tournament, concluding with just 30 percent shooting in the final game against Kansas State. Princeton was also dominated on the glass, an issue that did not come up in seasons past. Princeton’s offense also struggled in the second halves of games, as they were held under 10 points in the third or fourth quarter of all three.

However, the most striking concerns came on the defensive side of the ball. Against No. 15 Syracuse, the Tigers gave up 30 points or more in two quarters and allowed the Orange to shoot 57 percent. For perhaps the first time, this senior class is facing adversity on the defensive end, which very few could have predicted going into the season. The Tigers have now given up more than 60 points in every game this season; last year, they gave up that many only 10 times across the entire season. 

The team will certainly improve once Alarie returns. On the bright side, younger players have the opportunity to face this adversity and grow via live game exposure. However, there is a lot for Princeton fans to be concerned about from the team that is looking to defend its Ivy League title. In the standings, the Tigers currently sit in dead last, trailing division leader Penn (4–2) by three-and-a-half games. Granted, the non-conference standings do not matter when it comes to Ivy League standings, yet the confidence of proving the team can win against quality opponents does. Sitting at 1–6 on the year, the Tigers must show that they can overcome a slow start if they want to make a run at a second consecutive Ivy League title. 

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