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Women's basketball wins Loyola Thanksgiving Classic, Michelle Miller hits 1000 point mark

The Princeton women’s basketball team, in a resounding rebound from its 64-71 loss to Seton Hall a week earlier, earned three convincing wins over Thanksgiving break.

Last Tuesday, Princeton (5-1 overall) defeated Rider University 78-59. Senior guard/forward Annie Tarakchian hit three three-pointers and finished with a game-high 21 points. The Tigers beat the Broncs with 46 rebounds and just four turnovers.


Over the weekend, the Tigers traveled to Los Angeles to compete in the Loyola Marymount Thanksgiving Classic. The trip had special significance because it brought seniors Michelle Miller and Annie Tarakchian back to their home state, giving them the chance to play in front of family and friends.

“It was a lot of fun for Annie and me to go back home to L.A.,” Miller said. “It’s weird to think about it being the last time I’ll ever play there, but it was definitely a fun ending to my basketball career at home.”

On Friday, Princeton dominated UC Irvine 83-42, pulling the Tigers to a 2-0 series record against the Anteaters. The two teams first met in 2009. The Tigers raced to a 6-0 lead, maintaining their edge through the entire game. Miller scored a game-high 21 points, on 8-of-14 shooting. Tarakchian secured a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, already her third double-double of the season. The team hit 51 percent of field goal attempts overall, compared to 23 percent by Irvine. Princeton also led in rebounds 54-33.

The next day, Princeton won the championship game against Seattle University 85-48. While the Redhawks came close with a six-point deficit, Senior guard Amanda Berntsen scored nine-straight points around three minutes into the opening period, taking Princeton to a convincing 24-8 lead. Bernsten played a key role in the game with 21 total points, on impressive 8-11 shooting. Princeton again led in rebounds (53-27) and had a 50 percent field goal percentage. Seattle shot 31 percent.

In the third quarter, Miller scored her 1,000thpoint, officially becoming the 23rdPrinceton women’s basketball player to achieve the milestone. It was a special moment for the team, as the entire bench jumped in celebration. Head coach Courtney Banghart was especially proud to witness the achievement.

“For [Miller] to get her thousandth point in front of a hundred of her family and friends out in L.A. where her basketball career started is quite a story,” Coach Banghart said. “Our kids were so celebratory of that moment, which was very cool to see.”


The homecoming of two of the team’s senior players was perhaps the sweetest part of a successful weekend for the Tigers.

“An important part of our program is to bring kids home at some point during their career,” Banghart said. “We got to spend time with the Tarakchian family and the Miller family in their homes. And then we got an opportunity to travel together as team and to go on the road together. I think that’s important for the development of our team camaraderie and culture.”

“Of course on the court it was good to solidify two solid wins where everybody plays,” Banghart continued.

The comfortable wins over Irvine and Seattle showed that Princeton women’s basketball is building up to another strong season despite its loss to Seton Hall, in a game in which Princeton shot just 33 percent from the floor. Earlier ranked No. 24 in the USA Today coaches’ poll, Princeton fell out of the rankings with the surprising loss. The Tigers are regaining momentum and earning more votes to get back into the top 25.

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“In our loss to Seton Hall, I think we let them take us out of our rhythm,” Miller said. Going forward, she expects to work on “playing together the way we know we can play and not letting other teams take us out of that.”

“We’re still working on getting deeper,” Coach Banghart said. “But we’re getting better and that’s what we want from the team this early in the season.”

Princeton’s victories over the weekend should bolster the team’s confidence going into a much-anticipated home game against Michigan. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 6.