Women’s basketball (20–9 overall, 12–2 Ivy) won its final regular-season game 80–68 Saturday against Yale (16–13, 6–8), securing a 10-win streak and an Ivy League title. The win marked the Tigers’ 14th conference title in program history and second in a row. It was also women’s basketball head coach Courtney Banghart’s seventh first-place finish in the Ivy league regular season out of the 12 years that she has been coaching for Princeton. The Orange and Black shared the regular season title with Penn but earned the one seed in next weekend’s Ivy tournament by having a better head-to-head record against Harvard, the next highest seed.
The Tigers ended the first quarter four points ahead of the Bulldogs and held a consistent lead over them for the rest of the game. Leading the Tigers was junior forward Bella Alarie with 31 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists. Alarie’s performance once again earned her Ivy Player of the Week, the 17th in her career. Sophomore guard Carlie Littlefield contributed 20 points, five rebounds, and one assist for the Tigers followed by senior guard Gabrielle Rush with seven points, six rebounds, and a career-high 10 assists.
This season, Banghart has mentioned a few times that the team consists of many “pieces,” or players. “Each piece has to grow and develop and bring something that adds to the team,” she said.
Banghart takes pride in what her team has accomplished this year.
“Our team theme this year was ‘Rise as one,’ as with so many new faces — on the roster and on the staff, it was important that we came together as a team,” she said. “That said, the strength of a team is in the pieces, and a championship team has to work to have no weak links. This team has been a true team in every sense of the word.”
Not only was the game against Yale the Tigers’ 10th win in a row, but it was the team’s 20th win this season thus far. With the many games that the Tigers have played in the past couple of weeks and the nine consecutive wins leading up to the game against Yale, Banghart agrees that “there was a lot riding on that final game.”
“Every win and loss counts the same, so we lock in and stay focused on winning one game at a time,” Banghart said. With emotions, ranging from excitement to nervousness running high, she added, “The way I approached it is that I always want to play for an Ivy title. I’ll sign up for those emotions every year.”
The Tigers’ season isn’t over just yet, as the Ivy Tournament begins this weekend. When asked what kind of mindset the team is in going into the last leg of the season, Banghart says that, for now, the focus is on exams.
“It’s midterm week, so we’re focusing on getting through the bulk of our academic work,” Banghart said. “Then we’ll lock into what it takes to earn the Dance Ticket. It should be fun!”
The Tigers are heading into the Ivy Tournament as the first seed against fourth-seed Cornell in New Haven, Connecticut. The game is scheduled for this Saturday at 6 p.m. The winner will play the winner of second-seed Penn and third-seed Harvard on Sunday at 4 p.m.