Princeton women’s basketball (4–0) overcame injuries to its two best players to win 67–53 against Florida Gulf Coast (3–1) at Jadwin on Sunday afternoon and remain unbeaten on the season.
Senior forward Bella Alarie left the game in the second quarter after seemingly reaggravating an injury suffered last weekend against George Washington, and junior guard Carlie Littlefield left the game in the third quarter. Neither of the 2018-19 All-Ivy first-teamers returned, but head coach Carla Berube said she didn’t believe either injury was serious.
Without those two on the floor for much of the second half, Princeton received valuable contributions from senior forward Taylor Baur (10 points, 8 rebounds), sophomore guard Julia Cunningham (9 points, 5 assists), and first-year forward Ellie Mitchell (9 points, 10 rebounds), along with strong defensive play from multiple players.
“It’s good to have players step up into important roles,” Berube said. “Ellie coming off the bench was huge. I also thought that Grace Stone and Taylor Baur did a terrific job on both ends. It was very hard to contain [FGCU’s] guards, but they did a really great job. We’re going to need those contributions from our starters, and also from the bench.”
Princeton started the game on a 14–4 run, but FGCU went on a hot shooting streak at the end of the first quarter to take a 17–16 lead after ten minutes.
In the second quarter, Littlefield sparked a Princeton run with an and-one layup followed by a three-pointer. Princeton held FGCU to nine points in the second quarter and took a 35–25 lead into the half.
The Tigers started the second half with a 9–2 run, and they managed to hold onto the lead even after Littlefield left the game midway through the quarter. Junior guard McKenna Haire came off the bench to make two consecutive threes and give Princeton a 56–41 lead, and the Tigers took a 16-point lead into the final quarter. FGCU couldn’t mount a comeback in a low-scoring fourth quarter, and Princeton secured the win.
Princeton held an FGCU team which prides itself on shooting to 32 percent from the field and 6–29 from three in another strong defensive effort for a team allowing just 56.5 points per game this season.
“I think we did a good job on defending the three well. That’s their bread and butter, they shoot the three well, and they get out in transition well,” Berube said. “For us to execute and take care of the ball, that was key … [But] defense to me is always going to be a work in progress. We can get better, and we’re going to need to.”
Despite leaving the game early, Littlefield led Princeton in scoring with 18 points. She’s flourished in her first four games in Berube’s system, averaging 17.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game.
“[Littlefield] is always in attack mode, whether she’s on the offensive end or defensive end,” Berube said. “She’s a great distributor, but she also has some great offensive talent and can score the ball in a lot of ways.”
Princeton will play its next game in Littlefield’s home state, travelling to Iowa City to face Iowa on Wednesday. The team returns to Jadwin next Sunday, when they’ll play Monmouth.