Two days after surviving a furious Seton Hall comeback, the Princeton women welcomed Florida Gulf Coast to Jadwin Gym for a Sunday afternoon matchup between two top-10 mid-majors. The Tigers, ranked No. 9 by CollegeInsider.com (No. 6 by ESPNW), easily dispatched the No. 5 Eagles, 67-53 (No. 7 by ESPNW), despite losing both Bella Alarie and Carlie Littlefield to injuries.
Alarie returned to the starting lineup after missing Friday’s game against with a hyperextended right knee suffered in the fourth quarter at GW last Sunday. The two time Ivy Player of the Year seemed to be back to her old ways in the first quarter, as she scored seven points in the first five minutes against the smaller Eagles. As she went up for a rebound at the 5:31 mark of the second quarter, Alarie landed hard on her right kneecap and went right to the bench.
Alarie talked to trainer Jodi Schneider at the end of the bench and eventually made her way to the front later in the quarter. Any hope that Alarie would return for the second half were dashed when she missed the shootaround and had her kneecap iced.
With Alarie on the bench, Littlefield led the charge for the Tigers, forcing the uptempo Eagles into a half court game. Slowing FGCU down and holing one of the nation’s most prolific three point shooting team to a 1-for-12 effort from beyond the arc. The 2019 first-team All-Ivy point guard came out strong in the third quarter, hitting a quick layup and getting her second steal of the day.
Littlefield hit a mid-range jumper from the right side, five minutes into the second half, then went to the bench grimacing in pain. She would eventually point to her left ankle, which ended up being heavily iced.
On the afternoon, Littlefield would have another stat-stuffing effort of a game-high 18 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block.
With their two stars on the bench, the Tigers rose to the occasion with co-captain senior forward Taylor Baur (10 points, eight rebounds) and first-year Ellie Mitchell (nine points, 10 rebounds) controlling the paint.
Princeton kept FGCU at hand, never letting the Eagles get any closer than 11 points late in the third quarter. On the offensive end, the Tigers shot 41%, including a season high 50% (6-for-12) from three point. The Orange & Black were more impressive on the defensive end, holding the Eagles, who hit 35 threes on 39% shooting in its two Division I victories, to six triples on 21% shooting.
The Tigers are now 4-0, their best start since the historic 30-0 2014-15 season.
Princeton now heads to Iowa City for a Wednesday night game against Iowa, a planned homecoming game for Littlefield. Even if Alarie and Littlefield can’t make it back, the Tigers appear to have enough talent and depth to take on the Hawkeyes.