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Women's hoops to face Crimson, Big Green in important Ivy pair

The last time the women's basketball team played Harvard and Dartmouth, first place in the Ivy League was on the line.

This weekend, as Princeton (12-9 overall, 6-3 Ivy League) travels north to face the Crimson and the Big Green for the final time this season, the Tigers are still in the hunt for the Ivy crown. But now they need some help.

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When the Crimson (18-3, 8-1) came to Jadwin Gym two weeks ago, Princeton knew it had to beat it to contend for first place. The Tigers needed an upset, and they got one, defeating Harvard 56-53.

However, a loss the night before to Dartmouth (12-9, 6-3) prevented the Tigers from their ascension to first place. That defeat, coupled with a loss last weekend at Brown, put Princeton in its current predicament.

'Need a little help'

"Splitting last week means we need a little help," head coach Liz Feeley said. "We need to win all of our games and hope that someone else can knock off Harvard, if we are to have any chance of a championship."

This time, Princeton will not be able to look past its Friday night contest to the Harvard game because the Tigers face Harvard Friday.

Dartmouth has quietly climbed into a second-place tie with Princeton and Penn. There should be ample motivation for the Tigers against both teams.

"I'm glad we have Harvard first," Feeley said. "Now, we can't look past them. We weren't mentally focused last time. We're tied with Dartmouth – that should be enough incentive."

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In the win over Harvard, the Tigers followed the strong defensive play of sophomore guard Erica Bowman on Harvard's All-American forward Allison Feaster and sophomore forward Kate Thirolf's 21 points.

Tough at home

Beating Harvard on its own floor is a different matter. The Crimson are 11-0 at Lavietes Pavilion this year and currently hold the nation's seventh-longest home-court winning streak at 20 games.

"We need to do what we did last time, but better," Feeley said. "Our defense was great, but our offense wasn't totally clicking. We need to put a total game together and play well at both ends to be successful up there."

Thirolf again paced the Tigers against Dartmouth with a career-high 26 points and eight rebounds. But the reason Princeton won the game against Harvard – defense – cost it the game against Dartmouth. The Tigers, who entered the contest leading the nation in scoring defense at 53.4 points per game, gave up 72 points that night and fell to the Big Green, 72-68.

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"We match up well offensively, we just need to play better defense this time," Feeley said. "This is for bragging rights, so we have to get after it."

Another split weekend will certainly end the Tigers' hopes for a title. Two wins would make for an interesting stretch drive.

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