On Saturday, Jan. 28, the women’s basketball team (14–5 overall, 5–2 Ivy League) solidified their place as the best scoring defense in the Ivy League, defeating Yale (10–10, 4–3) by a 49-point margin, 79–30. The Bulldogs’ 30 points was their lowest-scoring game since 2005 and the lowest final score by an Ivy League team, in or out of season, since 2020.
“The defensive piece was more like the Princeton defense that we’ve been working on," head coach Carla Berube told The Daily Princetonian postgame. “We show it in practice every day, we work really hard at it. So it’s good to see it shown in the game today.”
First-year guard Madison St. Rose followed up back-to-back Ivy League Rookie of the Week awards by leading the Tigers in scoring for a third straight game, posting 17 points, including three three-pointers, and two rebounds. St. Rose has scored more than 15 points in five of her last six games. Junior forward Ellie Mitchell was unstoppable on the boards, hauling in 12 rebounds, along with eight points, two assists, and one emphatic block.
The Tigers initially traded baskets with the Bulldogs through the opening minutes of the first quarter, but a three-pointer from senior guard-forward Grace Stone initiated an 8–1 run for the Tigers. Though the Tigers shot 40 percent from the field in the quarter, their defense helped them to a 14–9 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
Junior guard Kaitlyn Chen and sophomore center Paige Morton teamed up on defense extensively, managing to corner Yale point guard Jenna Clark to force Yale’s sixth turnover in just seven minutes. One possession later, Morton set a solid screen for Chen, putting her defender a step behind. Chen took the ball all the way to the basket, getting the runaway layup and a trip to the foul line.
In the second quarter, the Tigers outscored the Bulldogs 22–4, as Chen continued to weave her way into the paint, while senior guard Julia Cunningham sank a couple of three-pointers. Continuing their strong defensive display, sophomore center Parker Hill snagged back-to-back steals and pushed the ball up the court to Mitchell, who cashed in the paint. Come to the end of the quarter, the Tigers were leading by 23 points, despite having no scorers in double-digits.
Mitchell’s offensive activity has been steadily increasing over the last five games, and now she says she's being more intentional about going after her own shots.
“I’m trying to take my time when I've got the opportunity,” Mitchell told the ‘Prince’ after the game. “Just focus, slow down, and look for myself.”
Mitchell has added a couple more put-backs off of her rebounds each match, and it has paid off. Saturday afternoon, she became the first Ivy League player since Bella Alarie ’20 to log at least eight points and 12 rebounds in less than 22 minutes on the court, per Her Hoop Stats.
St. Rose would take the reins in the second half, scoring back-to-back three-pointers in the mid-third quarter to boost Princeton’s lead to 30. St. Rose would score 15 of her 17 points in the second half on 58 percent shooting.
Senior point guard Maggie Connolly was a key connection between the more experienced and younger Princeton units, skillfully breaking Yale’s attempts at a full-court press throughout the game. Connolly’s ability to work with and between sets of teammates is a skill Berube says has been key to maintaining stability.
“[Connolly] knows what to run and who to run it for,” Berube said. “That’s what she gives us. It’s stability, it’s making the right decisions, and [making] smart plays.”
As the fourth quarter rolled in, the Tigers held a 59–25 advantage and both teams had sent in their benches and younger players. Sophomore guard Adaora Nwokeji had her first conference points of the season, as she sank a mid-range jump shot late in the game while surrounded by Yale jerseys.
The Tigers’ rout of Yale was their most convincing win of the season, as they posted both their second-highest final score and allowed the fewest points they had in any game this year. Princeton improved to 5–2 in conference play, sitting in a three-way tie for third place with Penn (13–7, 5–2) and Harvard (12–7, 5–2).
The Tigers will have one more opportunity to fine tune when they take on Cornell (9–11, 2–5) on Friday, Feb. 3. The following day, they are off to New York City for a highly anticipated rematch with league leaders Columbia (17–3, 6–1), who handed the Tigers their second loss of the season earlier this month.
Princeton will tip off against Cornell at 6 p.m. and against Columbia at 4 p.m. Both games will be available to stream on ESPN+.
Isabel Rodrigues is a staff writer for the Sports section at the ‘Prince’ who typically covers women’s basketball.
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