Follow us on Instagram
Try our daily mini crossword
Play our latest news quiz
Download our new app on iOS/Android!

The dance ends early: women’s basketball falls to West Virginia

A group of women in black jerseys huddle on basketball court.
The Tigers huddle one last time as the clock runs out against West Virginia.
Photo courtesy of @PrincetonWBB / X

Iowa City, Iowa — Ending a streak of two straight years with a March Madness win, ninth-seeded Princeton (25–5 overall, 13–1 Ivy League) fell to the eighth-seeded West Virginia Mountaineers (25–7 overall, 12–6 Big 12) 63–53 in a defensive battle at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Despite the loss, senior forward Ellie Mitchell, senior guard and captain Kaitlyn Chen, and senior guard Chet Nweke leave a legacy of Ivy League dominance and postseason success. The trio will be remembered among recent greats such as Bella Alarie ’20, Abby Meyers ’22, and more as cornerstones of a golden age of Princeton women’s basketball — which may still be far from over.


Over their careers, Mitchell, Chen, and Nweke won every possible Ivy championship and earned two March Madness victories. Continuing Princeton’s tradition of excellence from the Banghart era to the Berube era, the Class of 2024’s impact will not soon be forgotten.

“You couldn’t find three people that care more, that want to be great,” head coach Carla Berube said after the game. “Just amazing people to be around, and [I’m] gonna miss them very much, but I think they left an incredible legacy — left it better than when they came.”

A keystone of the trio’s legacy is mentorship, ensuring the tradition of victory continues.

“Kaitlyn, Ellie, and Chet have put so much faith and trust in me,” sophomore standout Madison St. Rose said. “Without them, I wouldn’t be the player I am today.”

Backed by a small yet vocal Princeton contingent, Princeton led at the half. Ultimately, West Virginia’s unrelenting press and effective shooting were Princeton’s undoing. Star West Virginia guard JJ Quinerly scored a game-high 29 points, many on floaters and layups that came late enough to quash any potential Princeton comeback.

Forcing 21 turnovers, 12 of which came in the decisive third quarter, the Mountaineers caused chaos and limited Princeton’s midrange attack.


“I haven’t seen a team that mid-ranges as well as Princeton probably ever in our scouting,” West Virginia Head Coach Mark Kellogg said. The Mountaineers’ scouting and practice paid off, as Princeton scored just six points on two-pointers outside the paint.

Opening the game with gusto, St. Rose drained two early threes to give the Tigers an early lead. West Virginia then settled in offensively, going back and forth with Princeton to bring the score to 14–11 Princeton at the end of the first quarter.

To start the second quarter, the Tigers rushed out to what would be their largest lead of the game, going up nine with 6:41 left in the frame. West Virginia countered, chipping away to bring the score to 26-24 at the half on a deep buzzer-beater from Jordan Harrison.

Get the best of ‘the Prince’ delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe now »

In a battle of the backcourts, star guard duos Chen and St. Rose for Princeton and Quinerly and Harrison for West Virginia led the way offensively, collectively scoring 39 of the 50 total points in the first half.

Despite West Virginia’s notorious full-court press forcing nearly 24 turnovers per game, Princeton only coughed up the ball five times in the first, though the tide would soon change.

“In the first half, we took care of the ball really well,” Chen said after the game. “We really valued our every possession, and we were able to get into our stuff well.”

All season, the third quarter has been Princeton’s best, but on Saturday night, the tables turned. The vaunted West Virginia defense finally dug its teeth in, forcing nine turnovers in five minutes as the Tigers’ poise began to break.

Despite Berube imploring her players from the sideline to “settle down,” Princeton couldn’t find their footing. The Mountaineers converted defense into offense, going on a 13–0 run to turn a five point deficit into an eight point lead.  

“I think they just turned it up, turned that pressure up, and we just got a little bit careless,” Berube said. “Their pressure put us into situations where it was really low shot clock, and we were struggling to get good shots.”

The Mountaineers also neutralized Mitchell, allowing her just five second half rebounds as she fell into foul trouble. Mitchell scored a mere three points during the game, and fellow forward Nweke mustered just two. 

“They did a good job of packing the paint,” Berube commented. “They’re strong, they’re aggressive, and … it was hard to get those looks inside.”

While Princeton settled down to end the third quarter, the damage was done. Overall, the Tigers shot just 25 percent in the frame as West Virginia turned a two-point deficit into a 42–33 lead.

As the fourth quarter ticked by, the final outcome became more and more apparent. While Princeton brought the Mountaineers’ lead down to six multiple times, they couldn’t inch closer than that. The turnovers — and easy buckets for Quinerly — continued to pile up as Princeton failed to find open looks early in the shot clock. 

As the dance of last-minute shots and fouls finally ended, West Virginia won 63–53 with the ball fittingly in Chen’s hands as the buzzer sounded.

“This program has given me the best three years, four years of my life, and I’ve met such amazing people,” an emotional Chen said postgame. “I couldn’t be happier here than anywhere else.”

West Virginia now will prepare for the top-seeded Iowa Hawkeyes (30–4 overall, 15–3 Big Ten) in NCAA all-time leading scorer Caitlin Clark’s last game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Monday. 

For Princeton, the loss serves as a damper on an otherwise successful season with a sixth straight Ivy title and multiple postseason awards.

“This is one game, one loss, on an amazing season that we had,” Berube said. “I couldn’t be more proud of my entire team.” 

Despite losing seniors Chen, Mitchell, and Nweke, the future still looks bright for the Tigers.

“[Our younger players] have really stepped up and stepped into their role,” Chen reflected. “They’ve done a fantastic job all year, and I’m honestly just really looking forward to see how they’ll grow and develop next year and become the leaders that they are.” 

Though the faces may change year to year, Princeton basketball’s strength still rises from its unity and tight-knit nature.

“It’s Princeton basketball, but it’s a family,” Berube concluded. “These are amazing women and role models.

Max Hines is a staff Sports writer for the ‘Prince.’

Please send corrections to corrections[at]