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Staff Picks: Women's Basketball at Cornell, Columbia

Senior sports writer Isabel Rodrigues ’23 and sports contributor Allison Ha ’25 offered their picks for this weekend’s contests.

women's basketball bench january 2023
Princeton will face Cornell, Columbia on weekend back-to-back road-trip.
Courtesy of @PrincetonWBB/Twitter.   

The women’s basketball team (14–5 overall, 5–2 Ivy League) has a big weekend coming up, with another chance to beat the Cornell Big Red (9–11, 2–5) on Friday, Feb. 3 and the opportunity for a rematch against the Columbia Lions (17–3, 6–1) on Saturday, Feb. 4. 

The Tigers are coming off of a massive 79–30 win against the Yale Bulldogs (10–10, 4–3) that pushed the Tigers into second place in the Ivy League, tying them with Penn (13–7, 5–2) and Harvard (12–7, 5–2). Princeton will look to continue their domination over Cornell on Friday; they crushed the Big Red 70–48 when the two last met on Jan. 7. 


On Saturday against Columbia, the Tigers will hope for better results than their last meeting on Jan. 6, when Princeton lost a 58–55 overtime heartbreaker to Columbia in Jadwin Gymnasium. Columbia currently sits atop the Ivy League standings, making the rematch highly anticipated. Staff sports writer Isabel Rodrigues ’23 and sports contributor Allison Ha ’25 offered their picks for this weekend’s contests.

Women’s basketball vs. Cornell 

Princeton 68, Cornell 40: Isabel Rodrigues, Staff Sports Writer

The first stop on Princeton’s back-to-back road trip is the barren, snow-covered tundra of Ithaca, New York. Sitting at 2–5 in conference play, the Big Red are pretty firmly out of contention for a spot in the Ivy League tournament, despite the best efforts of standout forward and reigning Ivy Rookie of the Week Emily Pape, who averages 10.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Cornell guard Ania McNicholas is also a player to watch, averaging 10.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game. Still, this should be a fairly straightforward win for the Tigers and a chance to tune up before some more important games up ahead in terms of tournament seeding.

Her Hoop Stats puts the likelihood of a Princeton victory at 96.5 percent on Cornell’s home turf. With a formidable Princeton frontcourt in junior forward Ellie Mitchell, junior guard Chet Nweke, and a rotating cast of six-foot, three-inches or taller centers in sophomores Paige Morton and Parker Hill, the Big Red will have their work cut out for them in the post. 

The last time the two teams met, Princeton had just come off of back-to-back losses against Harvard and Columbia. During that game, the key was combining clean defense, including limited fouls for the starting lineup, and balanced scoring across the roster — both of which the Tigers have zeroed in on in their last five games. If the Tigers can control the pace of the game, lay the defense on thick, and get at least a couple three pointers out of first-year guard Madison St. Rose or senior guard Grace Stone, it is hard to see this one going anywhere but a double-digit blowout.


Princeton 75, Cornell 51: Allison Ha, Sports Contributor

In the first matchup between the Tigers and the Big Red, Princeton easily moved past Cornell with a 70–48 win. Despite this game being contested away from home, it should play out in a similar fashion for the Tigers. Princeton is riding high on their six game win-streak, and they notably beat Yale last week by an astonishing 49 points. This is the same Yale team that beat the Big Red by 12 points earlier in the season.

The Tigers have only gotten stronger since the first time they met the Big Red. Key players have begun to find their rhythm, including first-year guard Madison St. Rose, who has scored in double-digits for five out of her six last games. 

Women’s basketball vs. Columbia  

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Columbia 57, Princeton 55: Isabel Rodrigues, Staff Sports Writer

After a grueling drive from Ithaca to Manhattan, the Tigers will immediately have to play one of the most highly anticipated games for this season, which is already nearly sold out. Despite all that, the matchup between Princeton and Columbia, regardless of when and where you put it, is about as even as matchups get in the Ivy League. Her Hoop Stats projects just a 3-point win for Columbia at their home gym.

Leading the Lions is emerging star and Ivy League leading scorer, guard Abbey Hsu, who averages 17.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game, playing alongside Columbia's first ever player to put up a triple double, guard-forward Kaitlyn Davis, who averages 12.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game. Lions guard Jaida Patrick also averages 12.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game. Columbia is well tested up and down its roster. They rank 21st in the nation in field goal percentage and 14th in three-point percentage while also being one of the better offensive rebounding teams in the country.

The Lions are also the fastest team in the Ivy League, playing at an average pace of 72.9 possessions per game, compared to Princeton's league-low 66.0 combined possessions per game. Yet their last outing against Princeton was their lowest scoring game of the season, with total possessions dipping to 68.9. In the Ivy League, the Lions are also fourth in scoring defense.

Last time around, the Tigers hyper-focused on limiting perimeter shooting, forcing the Lions to use more of the shot clock, staying out of foul trouble, and using their height to their advantage. On Saturday, they will have to be at their best and make a couple more shots to get revenge.

Princeton 55, Columbia 50: Allison Ha, Sports Contributor

With Columbia standing atop the Ivy League and Princeton in a three-way tie for second, this game is extraordinarily important for both teams. High stakes were present in the first matchup too — the teams had met in the Ivy Madness final in March 2022 —, but surprisingly, the Tigers and Lions were not very protective of the ball the first time they played each other. Princeton had a season high 19 turnovers, and Columbia had 21 of their own. Turnovers could very well be the deciding factor of this next matchup, given the already tight margins of error.

Last time the two teams met, juniors Kaitlyn Chen and Ellie Mitchell put up big numbers: Chen dropped 20 points and Mitchell grabbed 22 rebounds. To win this game, many other Princeton players must step up as well, including St. Rose and senior guard Julia Cunningham, who combined for 10 points on four-of-18 shooting in the first matchup. 

Fans can feel confident about a better result in this matchup. The Tigers are a much better team now than they were earlier in the season. Since their loss against Columbia, Princeton has not lost a game. I expect that streak will continue through the weekend.

Isabel Rodrigues is a senior staff writer for the Sports section at the ‘Prince’ who typically covers women’s basketball. 

Allison Ha is a contributor to the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’ 

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