Between any two points there lies a line that is strewn with obstacles that thwart its natural continuum. Last weekend, one obstacle was a bus wreck in the boondocks that interrupted the women's basketball team's otherwise smooth ride to Dartmouth. But more ominous than the roads of southern Connecticut has been a journey of a different nature, the journey between what is possible and what is actual.
Indeed, the women's basketball team has the ability to defeat Columbia and Cornell and has had that ability all season, even when the clock wound down in its losses to the two Ivy teams at the end of Intersession. But this weekend, the Tigers will again have a chance to prove themselves.
Their only stumbling block is defense.
"They're definitely games we know we can win," senior captain and guard Maggie Langlas said. "But it will take a lot of work."
The Big Red and the Lions are not too great a threat, despite their narrow victories over the Tigers this season. In both games, Princeton had leads early on and could have easily won, but last-minute failures on the defensive end of the court brought its downfall.
Against Cornell, the Tigers managed to gain a ten-point lead early on in the game, a lead they would increase to 11 points by the time the half ended. But in the second half the two teams struggled to capture and maintain the lead. But the Big Red managed to keep it when it most mattered — in the final seconds.
The game against Columbia was marked by a similar ebb and flow, as there were five lead changes in the first half. Princeton came out strong in the second half with a seven point surge, but was soon swamped by the constant battering of the Lion offense. In the end, Columbia found itself up by six points, making it the first victorious Lions' women's basketball team in Jadwin Gym since 1986.
The Tigers will especially need to look out for Columbia's freshman center Shaunte Edmunds, who notched her first collegiate double-double with 10 rebounds and a career-high 19 points in her first game against Princeton. Lion forward Shawnee Pickney has also posed a threat to the Tiger defense in the past, similarly pulling off a double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds.
Cornell also maintains a host of high-scorers, with five of its players scoring in double digits against Princeton in the last game. The leader of this pack, Katie Romey, scored 14 points. Such high scorers on both teams will tax the struggling Tiger defense.
"It's all about the defense at this point in the season," Langlas said.
Nothing to prove
Nevertheless, Princeton will have little trouble with its offense. With Langlas, freshman guard Allison Cahill and senior center Brooke Lockwood each scoring in double figures against Cornell, and Langlas leading all scorers with 22 points against Columbia, the Tigers are confident that they have shooters that can perform.
"[We have] a lot of people on our team who can score," Langlas said.
Likewise, when it comes to rebounds, Princeton has shown itself to be strong. Against the Lions, senior captain and forward Kate Thirolf snagged nine boards, while sophomore guard Lauren Rigney grabbed seven.
So far this month's travelling schedule has been less than lucky for the Tigers. Last week, Princeton suffered through losses to Harvard and Dartmouth and a bus wreck in southern Connecticut. But at the end of their journeys into New York City and Ithaca this weekend, Princeton will have another chance to fulfill its potential, take revenge and begin again to travel up the Ivy League standings.