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Staff Picks: Women’s Basketball vs. West Virginia

Three girls wearing black Princeton Athletics coat boarding a Coach bus on a residential street.
The women’s basketball team boarding a bus en route to the NCAA Tournament in Iowa.
Photo Courtesy of @PrincetonWBB/X

March is here, and your Tigers are dancing.

The No. 9 seeded Princeton women’s basketball team drew the No. 8 seeded West Virginia Mountaineers in the first round of this year’s NCAA Tournament — and they’ll have their hands full.


The Mountaineers are led by JJ Quinerly, a 5-foot-8-inch junior guard who can score from just about anywhere on the court. The Tigers have not seen much of players like Quinerly throughout their Ivy League season, but their defense, led by senior forward, three-time Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year, and women’s basketball’s leading rebounder Ellie Mitchell, is almost always up to the challenge.

The Mountaineers play fast, the Tigers play slow. The Mountaineers rely on their offensive production, the Tigers on their defense.

It is truly the perfect matchup — fans should expect as good of a game as any throughout the 64-team field.

Head Sports Editor Diego Uribe ’26, Assistant Sports Editor Alex Beverton-Smith ’26, Sports contributor Lucas Denault ’27, and Sports contributor Lily Pampolina ’27 offered their picks for this weekend’s contest.

Princeton 68, West Virginia 60 — Lily Pampolina, Sports Contributor

Princeton women’s basketball always shows up in March.


The Tigers have had a strong showing the entire season. Both in and out of conference games, Princeton has shown extreme defensive resilience, allowing their opponents an average of 56 points per game. On the offensive side, senior guard and captain Kaitlyn Chen and sophomore guard Madison St. Rose have averaged in the double digits per game across the season and lead their team in scoring. After dominating the Ivy League tournament, the Tigers show no sign of losing momentum and should be well prepared for their first-round matchup.

Although Princeton and West Virginia have not met in nearly 10 years, the two teams share a common opponent from this season — the University of Oklahoma. Against the Sooners, the Tigers boasted three double-digit scorers: Chen, St. Rose, and first-year guard Skye Belker, as well as two double-digit rebounders: senior forward Ellie Mitchell and senior guard Chet Nweke. This matchup highlighted the depth of Princeton’s roster, yet again proving their ability to compete against fellow ranked opponents. The Mountaineers, on the other hand, went 1–1 against their in-conference opponent, notably losing their first matchup against Oklahoma by 25 points. 

West Virginia is not to be taken lightly, but for this experienced Princeton team, the game is manageable. The Tigers must continue to control the offensive pace from fast breaks and convert points off of defensive turnovers. West Virginia runs a high press, so senior veterans will be key to setting the tone of the game and moving the ball up the court. The Tigers cannot be afraid to take contested shots and will have to rely on their strong rebounders to secure second chance baskets.

Princeton 68, West Virginia 60 — Diego Uribe, Head Sports Editor 

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Defense has been the Tigers calling card this season, but they may meet their match on Saturday against the Mountaineers. 

West Virginia ranks second in the country in steals per game, thanks in large part to their standout sophomore and primary ball-handler Jordan Harrison, who led the Big 12 in steals per game.

Princeton has done an outstanding job of taking care of the ball all year — they lead the Ivy in turnover margin. But the Tiger backcourt of senior guard and captain Kaitlyn Chen and sophomore guard Madison St. Rose will certainly have their hands full with Harrison and company. Taking care of the ball will have to be a priority for the Tigers if they want to come out on top.

The Mountaineers have lost three of their last five games, putting them on shaky ground as they enter college basketball’s biggest stage. 

The Tigers, on the other hand, are on a five-game win streak and are coming off of an Ivy League Championship. They’ve won in March before, and they’re more than capable of doing it again.

Expect the Tiger guards to shine. They’ll put pressure on the Mountaineers in transition and attack the weak West Virginia interior defense. It’ll be a close one in the first half, but the Tigers will pull away in the second and earn their spot in the round of 32.

Princeton 70, West Virginia 68  — Alex Beverton-Smith, Assistant Sports Editor

In this first-round NCAA matchup, the defensive Tigers will see themselves face a strong West Virginia offense. Averaging 74.6 points per game, the Mountaineers have excelled in several aspects, especially from behind the arc — making seven threes per game, good for 84th in the country.

Princeton, nevertheless, has the defensive capability to deal with such a threat and will pose a unique challenge to the Mountaineers. Senior forward Ellie Mitchell is Princeton’s star defensive player as she averages 10.0 RPG, placing her 30th in the country. On the offensive end, the Tigers are led by senior guard and captain Kaitlyn Chen and sophomore guard Madison St. Rose, who average 15.8 and 14.5 points per game, respectively.

This should be a close matchup with both teams evenly balanced in playing style — it is ultimately a game that could swing either way. However, the Tigers have been consistent all season, and a strong postseason run so far has secured them a comfortable passage to the NCAA tournament following their Ivy League Championship success.

In the final minutes, Princeton’s defensive prowess will shine through on the big stage and allow their offense to make the shots they need to in order to secure them the victory.

Princeton 60, West Virginia 71 — Lucas Denault, Sports Contributor

The Tigers have a full plate.

West Virginia’s incredible defense will be a lot for senior guard and captain Kaitlyn Chen and the Tigers to handle. The Mountaineers boast the best turnover margin in the country at +8.87 while averaging 13.9 steals per game, showcasing their exceptional ability to force turnovers while minimizing their own mistakes on the court. Princeton’s offense has shown vulnerability to turnovers and miscues, which could be a weakness West Virginia aims to exploit in their upcoming matchup.

However, don’t count Princeton out. The gritty team sits at 25–4 and seems to be heating up — they are on a five-game win streak and won the Ivy League Championship last week. 

Princeton is shooting a decent 45.81 percent from the field, but they will need to get hot in order to defeat the Mountaineers. Princeton also needs to be ready to handle the full court 2-2-1 press that WVU plays almost all game. This aggressive zone press is something that can rattle opponents, but if Princeton is prepared, they can take advantage of the weak back side of the zone and score points in transition. 

Ultimately, the Mountaineers defense will be too much for Princeton. Unless the Tigers can create more higher percentage shots and successfully beat the press, West Virginia will cruise to the round of 32.

Lily Pampolina is a Sports contributor and contributing Audience creator for the ‘Prince.’

Diego Uribe is a head Sports editor for the ‘Prince.’

Alex Beverton-Smith is an assistant Sports editor for the ‘Prince.’

Lucas Denault is a Sports contributor for the ‘Prince.’

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