Two of the Ivy League’s brightest stars shone bright as Carlie Littlefield and Bella Alarie combined for 48 points as the Tigers tamed the Penn State Nittany Lions, 72-55, at Jadwin Gym Saturday afternoon.
Penn State (5-5) used a strong performance on the offensive boards to jump out to a quick 8-2 lead, but three baskets by Alarie helped Princeton (9-1) tie the game at 11. An Abby Meyers layup gave the Tigers the 15-13 advantage at the end of the opening quarter.
Princeton started to take control of the game in the second stanza, opening the quarter on a 14-0 run with Alarie hitting back-to-back-to-back deep three-pointers. The Lions rebounded to cut the deficit to 12, 40-28, at the half.
Both teams shot well in the first half, with the Tigers making 46% of their shots and the Lions 48%. Princeton’s pressure defense was the difference, forcing 16 turnovers (nine steals) and converting those miscues into 16 points. The Lions, meanwhile, could not get any points off of the four Tigers’ turnovers.
Princeton would not let Penn State get any traction in the third quarter, holding its guests to 33% shooting and forcing six more turnovers over the next 10 minutes. Littlefield led the charge on offense, scoring nine points on a perfect 3-for-3 effort from the field and 2-for-2 from the charity stripe.
The Tigers, up 61-40 at the start of the fourth quarter, extended the lead to a game-high 26 with just under seven minutes to go and coasted the rest of the way.
The Orange & Black’s offense was disciplined with 51% shooting from two, a 71% assist rate and only 12 turnovers. Alarie and Littlefield were efficient from three, hitting a combined 7-for-9 (78%), but the rest of the team struggled with a 1-for-17 (6%) effort.
Defensively, the Tigers controlled the paint, limiting the Lions to only 39% shooting from two and holding the Big Ten’s leading scorer, Kamaria McDaniels, to three points. Princeton finished with 12 steals and forced Penn State into a season-high 27 turnovers.
Littlefield was the star of the game with a career-high 25 points (9-for-13 in field goals, 4-for-4 in free throws), as well as three assists and three steals. Alarie did not miss a beat after returning to the lineup after missing the last three games to an ankle injury. The two-time defending Ivy League Player of the Year added 23 points (9-for-15 in field goals, 4-for-5 from three) with 19 coming in the first half.
The bench provided its usual help with first-year forward Ellie Mitchell grabbing a team-high seven rebounds and sophomore guard Maggie Connolly leading the way with 6 assists and 3 steals.
Last week, Princeton was No. 4 in the College Insider Mid-Major Top 25 and just missed out on making the Top 25 in the national Coaches Poll. Carla Berube’s Tigers, now on a five-game winning streak, will look to move up in both polls as they travel to Missouri (3-7) on Wednesday and St. Louis (7-3) on Friday.