The Princeton women’s basketball team continues to be allergic to losing.
The Tigers entered the Levien Gymnasium at Columbia Wednesday hungry for the Ivy League regular season title. The Lions’ crowd was roaring as the game began, but was quickly silenced by the Tigers’ efficient scoring and lockdown defense in Princeton’s 73–53 win, which clinched the program’s third consecutive Ivy League regular season championship.
Columbia (19–5 overall, 10–2 Ivy League) was looking to avenge their only Ivy League loss of the season, which came against the Tigers in Jadwin Gymnasium, and tie Princeton (20–4, 12–0) for first place in the League with a win. When the game started, however, it was evident that the Tigers had other ideas.
Junior guard Grace Stone had 13 points within the first 10 minutes of regulation with sophomore guard Kaitlyn Chen adding three three-pointers. The two Princeton guards set the tone offensively for the rest of the game. Princeton shot 58 percent from the field that quarter compared to Columbia’s 29 percent, ending the first quarter with a commanding 26–8 lead. They successfully maintained this lead until the final buzzer.
To complement the explosive offense, the Tigers’ defense came out in its signature impenetrable form. Princeton’s guards swarmed the Lions around the perimeter, forcing them to a 0-for-3 start from the three-point range. The Tiger forwards held down the post, playing solid, physical defense.
Both ends of the ball kept up their dominance through the half, extending their lead to 26 at the break. Putting on a scoring clinic in the first half, Chen had 21 of those first-half points, the same amount as Columbia’s entire team.
But the Lions are not a team to roll over and give up after only half of a basketball game. They came out of halftime with an 11–2 run, looking like they might stir up a comeback. Columbia was hitting closely contested shots over Princeton defenders and getting offensive rebounds on misses for second-chance scoring opportunities. The Tigers, however, led by Ellie Mitchell’s 13 rebounds, held on to only give up seven points of their lead that quarter.
Moving into the final quarter, the Tigers were not phased by Columbia’s competitiveness. The teams traded baskets, but with the Tigers already so far ahead, the Lions had no shot at a comeback.
Chen and Stone, to put it simply, were an unstoppable offensive duo. Both players ended with career highs in points; Chen with 27, and Stone with 19.
With the Ivy League regular season title now under their belt, the Tigers plan to continue their dominance through the final two games of the season and into the Ivy League tournament. In such a tremendous season, the Tigers are also looking to extend their success into the NCAA March Madness tournament next month.
There, they’ll look to upset some bigger schools who might underestimate the ferocity of this Princeton team.
Eric Fenno is a contributor to the Sports and Prospect sections at the ‘Prince.’ He can be reached at email@example.com.