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Bella Alarie and Princeton return to Jadwin this weekend. Courtesy of Jack Graham / The Daily Princetonian

By Jack Graham


After a win against Penn (18–5 overall, 8–2 Ivy) that tied the team for first in the Ivy League, Princeton women’s basketball (16–9, 8–2) head coach Courtney Banghart decided to treat her team.

For the first time in her 12 years of coaching, Banghart took the team to get ice cream after a game.

The Tigers defeated Penn 68–53 in a rare Tuesday Ivy League game at the Palestra.

Penn scored the first basket of the night, giving the Quakers the only lead that they would have for the rest of the game, before sophomore Carlie Littlefield hit a three-pointer that put the Tigers ahead 3–2. With half of the first quarter left to play, a three by senior guard Gabrielle Rush and two free throws by junior Bella Alarie put the Tigers up 8–4. After some back-and-forth scoring, another Rush three-pointer put Princeton up by seven before two consecutive baskets by the Quakers led to a 15–12 Tiger advantage at the end of the first quarter.

Throughout the second quarter, the Tigers never had more than a eight-point lead. After some back-and-forth baskets, the Tigers pulled away for a short period of time with senior Sydney Jordan adding a basket, followed by another three by Rush to put the score at 24–15 with six minutes left. The Quakers went on a five-point run, sitting at only one point behind the Tigers with four minutes left in the half. The half finished with the Tigers up 33–31.

Two minutes into the second half, Alarie had gone on a six-point run, extending the lead to 39–31. Alarie contributed 13 points during this quarter, and out of the 10 made shots for the Tigers this quarter, 

Alarie contributed eight of them. The Tigers headed into the fourth quarter with a 50–46 lead.

With six minutes left in the game, the Tigers had a 10-point lead after two layups from Alarie in 50 seconds. The Tigers only allowed one three-point shot and four free throws, totaling in seven points from the Quakers in the fourth. With 5:30 left in the game, the lead that the Tigers had never fell below 11.

Alarie contributed a game-high 33 points to the score with Littlefield scoring 14 and Rush sitting at 13. The Tigers had 41 rebounds and shot a .431 field goal percentage during this win.

“The defensive lock-in in terms of personnel and action was on point for the entire game and offensively, we did the big things like bounce-passing and attacking from the baseline,” Banghart said in her podcast, The Court Report.

The team will be wrapping up its stretch of five games in eight days this weekend. The Tigers will be facing Harvard (14–9, 7–3) and Dartmouth (12–11, 5–5) in Jadwin Gymnasium on Friday and Saturday.

In their last matchup this season against Dartmouth on Feb. 16, the Tigers won 82–75. Coming into this game, Princeton will need to watch out for Dartmouth senior Isalys Quinones, who had 22 points and six rebounds against the Tigers. Princeton shot lower percentages in each category than Dartmouth, with field goal percentage for the Tigers at .466 and the Big Green at .509, three-point percentage at a low .273 compared to Dartmouth’s .563, and free throws at .733 for the Tigers and .909 for the Big Green. Princeton racked up 34 rebounds compared to the 27 from Dartmouth, so the Tigers will need to get their statistics up for this game and continue to beat Dartmouth in getting boards.

On Feb. 15, the Tigers played Harvard, winning by a slim four points, 75–71. With the Tiger’s defense on fire for the second half, the Tigers were able to secure a lead. The team statistics for both the Tigers and Crimson were extremely similar. Since losing to Princeton, Harvard has won three straight games, scoring an average of 87 points per game. They are currently 13th in the nation for three-pointers. Crimson sophomore Katie Benzan is ranked fourth in the NCAA in threes per game.

Coach Banghart explained, “Dartmouth is not an easy out by any stretch, and then you’ve got Harvard who has a lot to play for. Two tough teams and I guess this is how it goes.”

“We’re doing a lot of film right now and a lot of recovery stuff,” Banghart said of the team playing five games in eight days, “The more rest, the better for these bodies right now. We just gotta take care of ourselves and win one at a time.”

Prior to the game against Harvard on Saturday, the Princeton seniors — Rush, Jordan, and Qalea Ismail — will be honored. Together, this trio has won 79 games with a .692 winning percentage. They won the 2018 Ivy League Championship and were a part of the first team in conference history to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

The match against Dartmouth will be at 6 p.m. on Friday, and the match versus Harvard will be on Saturday at 5 p.m. If you cannot attend, both games will be streamed on ESPN+.

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