ITHACA, N.Y. – The Cornell Big Red put up a good fight, but the Princeton Tigers pulled away in the second half for a 69-50 victory, marking their 26th win of the season.
“I’m proud of them,” said Cornell coach Dayna Smith about her team. “I’m proud of the effort we played with today. We talked about worrying about us and what we can accomplish and execute, and we did that. Princeton is a phenomenal team. They’re going to do some great things down the stretch here.”
The Big Red (10-16, 3-11 Ivy) starting five consisted of all starters, and a sixth senior, Laura Bagwell-Katalinich, came off the bench. The six seniors combined for 48 of Cornell’s 50 points, as they got the majority of the minutes.
“They came out great. I was really happy for them,” said Smith. “They played hard together. They take a lot of pride in the program. We had a down year, they wanted just to play better basketball today, so I was proud of that and happy for them.”
After a back-and-forth first quarter, the Tigers (26-1, 14-0) held just a three-point lead. A Dylan Higgins layup with 8:58 left in the second quarter cut the lead to one, but the Tigers went off on a 13-2 run to end the quarter and take a 32-20 lead at the half.
Cornell trailed by 15 early in the third quarter, but cut it down to single-digits with 3:20 left after another Higgins layup. However, it was all Princeton after, holding a 19-point lead at the end of the third quarter and eventually winning by the same margin.
Bella Alarie led the Tigers with 17 points, eight rebounds and five blocks, but the two-time reigning Ivy Player of the Year scored just four points in the second half.
“[We] wanted to be a bit more physical with her,” said Smith. “She’s so talented, and when she has space and freedom of movement, [she] gets the ball down there low towards the basket, she’s almost impossible to stop.”
Carlie Littlefield and Julia Cunningham each added 11 for the winners. Abby Meyers came off the bench and scored 10.
The Tigers shot 43% from the field, while the Big Red shot 40%. Cornell outrebounded Princeton 38-32 but turned the ball over 10 more times (21-11).
It was the unstoppable duo of Laura Bagwell-Katalinich and Samantha Widmann leading the way for Cornell with 15 points and 14 points, respectively. Widmann will finish her collegiate career 12th in program history in scoring, while Bagwell-Katalinich has a year of eligibility left if she chooses to exercise it elsewhere.
Danielle Jorgenson added seven points for the Big Red while Higgins and Stephanie Umeh pitched in six in their final game for the Big Red.
“They exemplify what we want in our program,” said Smith about her seniors. “They’re hard-working, they’re good people, been really good teammates to each other. They’re just a fun group, and it’s been an honor to coach them.”
Cornell’s season is complete, but the Tigers will be in Ivy Madness as the top seed, playing the No. 4 Columbia Lions in Friday’s semifinal round. The Tigers beat Columbia 77-52 on Friday night in Manhattan. That game will tip at 4:30 on ESPN+, with the winner playing in the championship on Saturday night on ESPNEWS.