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Women’s basketball narrowly defeats Fordham, 70–67

Guards Grace Stone and Kaitlyn Chen combined for 38 points to lead the Tigers to victory

<h5>Grace Stone (10) notched 19 points, four rebounds, and three assists while shooting 2-for-3 from three-point range in Wednesday’s win.</h5>
<h6>Courtesy of Shelley Szwast/Princeton Athletics.</h6>
Grace Stone (10) notched 19 points, four rebounds, and three assists while shooting 2-for-3 from three-point range in Wednesday’s win.
Courtesy of Shelley Szwast/Princeton Athletics.

On Wednesday evening, Princeton women’s basketball (3–1 overall, 0–0 Ivy League) eked out a close win, this time on their home court against Fordham (2–2, 0–0 Atlantic 10). After just sneaking past Seton Hall on Monday, the Tigers defeated the Fordham Rams 70–67 in another wire-to-wire nail-biter.

Junior guard Kaitlyn Chen and senior guard-forward Grace Stone were unstoppable, as they wracked up a combined 38 points on 15-for-19 shooting, including 3-for-5 from three-point range. 

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“We were running our offense really well,” Stone told The Daily Princetonian after the game. “All of us were really aggressive looking for our shots, which made us really hard to guard.”

The Tigers drastically improved their field goal percentage from Monday’s game against Seton Hall, where they shot just 29.6 percent, this time making 53.8 percent of their shots. They also limited Fordham to making just seven of 20 attempts from beyond the arc, stifling the Rams who had previously made 12 three-pointers against Maryland.

The Tigers opened the match on a 7–2 scoring run, but Fordham responded in kind, going on a 7–0 run a minute later and taking the lead at 11–10. The score remained close, with Stone scoring seven straight points to put the Tigers back in front, and Chen putting up six straight points to hold the Princeton lead (32–28).

Stone closed the quarter for the Tigers by going after a heavily contested mid-range jump shot. She took heavy contact on the play and earned a trip to the free-throw line, where she sank both shots and secured a six-point Princeton lead going into halftime (39–33).

“The momentum [was] going to shift a lot during the game,” Stone told the ‘Prince.’ “It’s hard to string together a lot of stops, especially against really talented guard play and post play that they had.”

“I think that they had a lot of runs, but we handled them well,” Stone added. “And when the momentum was shifting our way, we sort of took advantage of that.”

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The Tigers allowed the Rams to go on an early 9–2 run to open the second half and fell behind by one point (42–41). From there, it was more back-and-forth action, with three lead changes in the final five minutes of the third quarter, and neither team was able to build more than a three-point lead. 

Junior forward Ellie Mitchell continued her rebounding prowess, posting 14 boards alongside 10 points by the end of the game. Mitchell, who entered the game leading the NCAA in rebounds per game, hauled in a pair of key defensive rebounds in the mid-fourth quarter, allowing the Tigers to take back the lead at 64–61 and squash the momentum Fordham had been building.

“We crashed the offensive glass the way we needed to,” Stone said. “[Mitchell] just gets after every single possession … I think it was just the extra effort that really put us over the edge.”

Head Coach Carla Berube also had plenty of praise for Mitchell after the game.

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“I can’t say enough about what she’s bringing day in and day out,” Berube said. “She made some big shots too … she’s just got more confidence in her offense this year, which [is] just making us better.”

Ultimately, as the Tigers struggled to slow down the Rams’ offense, it once again came down to free throws. Princeton had a slight advantage as the final minutes ran down, and had limited their fouls in the fourth quarter, whereas Fordham wracked up four.

With 36 seconds left to play, Fordham forward Kaitlyn Downey duped Stone backdoor for an easy layup, cutting the Princeton lead to just one (64–63). However, the Tigers quickly took advantage of the Rams’ piled-up fouls. Chen dribbled the ball at half-court, letting seconds run off the clock and waiting for a Fordham defender to take the bait. With just six seconds left on the shot clock, she drove the ball inside and was almost immediately fouled. Despite missing all three of her previous free throws, Chen sank both, bringing the lead back to three at 66–63.

Chen’s heroics opened the door for senior guard Julia Cunningham, who grabbed a crafty steal on the next possession and ran out ahead for a layup. Cunningham drew another Fordham foul in the process, and her free throws put the Tigers up five (68–63). But after Cunningham committed a pair of fouls of her own, Princeton suddenly found themselves in the same position as Fordham. Now, every foul they committed would send the Rams to the free-throw line.

The atmosphere at Jadwin Gymnasium was becoming thicker by the second. Fans anxiously waited on the edges of their seats as Fordham guard Asiah Dingle sank two free throws, cutting the Princeton lead to three (70–67). But, just as she had against Seton Hall, senior guard Maggie Connolly entered the game to help close out the win. 

With seconds left to play, all the Tigers needed was to secure an inbound pass; Connolly baited her defender, dipping back across half-court to take the pass long — too long for Fordham to grab a steal. As Connolly dribbled out the final seconds, the Tiger bench erupted in cheers, celebrating the hard-fought win.

“[Connolly] settles us,” Berube told the ‘Prince.’ “She gets us into our offenses.

“Maggie’s just a really important piece of our team. At the end of the game, you saw her free throws [against Seton Hall], of course you want her in the game,” Berube added.

With the Tigers’ contest against Buffalo (1–1, 0–0 MAC) scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 19 now canceled due to inclement weather in the Buffalo area, they’ll have a week off before heading to Austin for a highly anticipated rematch of last season’s duel against No. 3 Texas (1–1, 0–0 Big 12). Catch the Tigers on the Longhorn Network on Sunday, Nov. 27.

Isabel Rodrigues is a staff writer for the Sports section at the ‘Prince’ who typically covers women's basketball. Please direct any corrections requests to corrections(at)dailyprincetonian.com.

Editorsnote: This article was updated to reflect the cancellation of the Princeton v. Buffalo game, originally scheduled for Nov. 19.

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