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Bella Alarie goes up for a layup against Columbia

By Beverly Schaefer

Junior forward Bella Alarie’s 45-point performance in Friday afternoon’s win over Columbia (5–12 overall, 1–3 Ivy League) puts her in impressive company. She set the women’s basketball program record for points and became the second player in Princeton basketball history to score at least that many. The other? Bill Bradley ’65. 

On top of that, Alarie made 20 field goals during the game, an Ivy single-game record, and broke the Princeton record for career blocks, previously held by Ellen DeVoe ’86.

Led by Alarie, Princeton (10–8, 2–1) defeated Columbia 79–64 in its second Ivy League game of the season. Princeton made out with a field goal percentage of 45.3 to solidify the win over the Lions, who only managed a percentage of 37.1. After a win Saturday over Cornell (7–8, 1–3), the Tigers are moving into the throes of the Ivy League matches with a winning conference record and the adrenaline of success.

Asked after the Columbia game what it felt like to play knowing that her team and coach were rooting for a record-achieving performance, Alarie said she tried to keep her mind away from her point total.

“I might glance every once in a while,” she said. “I don’t like to know how many points I have because I don’t want that to be my main focus.”

Focusing on the game is something that Alarie has improved upon throughout her years on the team. Alarie and head coach Courtney Banghart agreed that a problem Alarie faced as an underclass player was missing a shot and getting down on herself. With her performance Friday, there is no doubt that the junior forward now has plenty of confidence in her abilities.

While Alarie’s individual performance took centerstage, Princeton also received valuable contributions from the rest of the team. Banghart said that the team had sections in practice in which no one was allowed to shoot until Alarie touched the ball, putting pressure on Alarie to be more assertive and forcing her teammates to find her for open shots. The Tigers also greatly benefited from sophomore guard Carlie Littlefield’s 18 points, along with seven points from senior guard Gabrielle Rush and four points from sophomore forward Sydney Boyer.

“My teammates found me where I could score,” Alarie said. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”

Alarie gave another stellar performance the next night, with 21 points and 10 rebounds in a commanding 75-46 win over Cornell on their campus, in Ithaca. First-year guard Lexi Weger scored 13 points off the bench, and Princeton’s bench contributed an additional 26 points. 

The wins over Columbia and Cornell set the team up nicely for the rest of their season as they continue the Ivy League schedule. The Tigers will next play Yale this Friday at 6 p.m. in Jadwin Gymnasium. 

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