Women’s basketball (2–7) hosts the Quinnipiac Bobcats on Saturday night at Jadwin Gymnasium. The Tigers are coming off a 65–57 victory over the Davidson Wildcats this past Sunday.
Sophomore guard Carlie Littlefield has starred for the Tigers this year. She put in 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds against Davidson. Littlefield is part of the young, new Princeton core who are still finding their way in the absence of reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, junior forward Bella Alarie. Alarie has yet to play this season as she recovers from a broken arm.
Princeton used a 16–6 run to finish off the Wildcats in a game that had been close all along. The Tigers outscored their opponent 21–12 in the fourth quarter and converted seven of nine free throws down the stretch to help secure the win. After the game, Littlefield said her team followed head coach Courtney Banghart’s directives to “buckle down” on defense in order to come away with its first home win of the season.
“We’ve learned how to come together,” Littlefield stated. “We’ve had some toughness lessons, and that’s really valuable with some young players.” Princeton will again be put to the test when Quinnipiac comes to town.
The Bobcats sit at 4–4 for the season, having just posted a five-point win over the Tigers’ Ivy League competitor, Harvard. Last season they won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Quinnipiac is led by senior guard Aryn McClure, who was a First Team All-MAAC honoree last year. The team nearly bested the No. 12 Texas Longhorns at the Gulf Coast Showcase on Nov. 23, falling by just one point.
On her weekly podcast, The Court Report, Banghart discussed the upcoming match-up. “They’re gonna try to out-tough you, they’re gonna try to win on the glass, they’ve got five guys at a time that are usually the best matchups on the floor.” Banghart is pleased to have such a strong regional competitor and complimented the Bobcats’ style of play. “They play together,” she said. “Wherever the hole is, they’re gonna find it.”
Banghart referenced Quinnipiac as an overlooked team, lamenting that the Bobcats and her Tigers started this series because they are “two good teams that can’t get anybody to play them.” A win this weekend would help Princeton regain its footing and get back on everybody’s radar after a slow start. As for Quinnipiac as an opponent, Banghart said: “We wanna play them because they’re gonna be playing for a championship every year. So are we.”
It’s clear that Banghart is focused on developing her team as the season progresses. “I’m committed to the long game and I’m committed to winning Ivy titles,” she said on The Court Report. In the preseason poll, Princeton was picked to win the Ivy League over Pennsylvania and Harvard.
For now, much of that load is shouldered by Littlefield. Over the team’s three games at the Cancun Challenge in November, she averaged 16.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.0 assists — good enough to be named to the All-Tournament team and earn Ivy League Player of the Week honors on Nov. 26.
Princeton will tip off against Quinnipiac at 7 p.m. on Saturday. The game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Philadelphia+.