How Princeton women’s basketball clawed its way to the top of the Ivy League

The 2019-20 Princeton women’s basketball team’s campaign ended all too quickly due to COVID-19, but not before demonstrating the enduring strength of the program under a new coaching staff. (Princeton Athletics)

The 2019-20 Princeton women’s basketball team was by no means a “one-hit wonder.”

It was the product of a process begun more than a dozen years ago. Successful coaches do more than win games; they build a program, an organization that can produce highly competitive teams year after year. Successful programs are designed to withstand graduations, injuries, and the inevitable clash of egos and personalities in groups of a dozen or more highly competitive and talented individuals. To achieve success in college basketball over time is incredibly difficult. To achieve credibility on the national scene with a mid-major program and no athletic scholarships defies belief. Princeton has done that.

In 1970, the 225th year of Princeton’s existence, school administrators decided to adopt the revolutionary idea of coeducation, not coincidentally, I have always believed, in the year following my graduation. One year later, varsity basketball was introduced as a women’s intercollegiate sport. The Tigers enjoyed early success, winning the first four Ivy titles following the launching of a women’s postseason tournament in 1975. (The women played a postseason tournament until 1982. In 2017, the present tournament format was adopted. The top four men’s and women’s teams compete at the same site over the same weekend to determine the league’s NCAA representatives.)

Read moreHow Princeton women’s basketball clawed its way to the top of the Ivy League

Cornell women put up good fight but fall to No. 21/No. 17 Princeton

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.

Read moreCornell women put up good fight but fall to No. 21/No. 17 Princeton

No. 25 Princeton stymies Yale, 55-39

There are 13 people on a basketball court at any one time. One never should focus on three of them.
Unfortunately, the focus was on them in the first half of the Princeton-Yale battle at John J. Lee Amphitheater.
And they were equal-opportunity malfeasants. You won’t hear that from Princeton coach Carla Berube or Yale coach Allison Guth. They are too classy.
But the officials made some mind-jarring calls which led to both Yale standout Roxy Barahman and Princeton star Bella Alarie ending up on the bench early.
Princeton, ranked No. 25 in the USA Today/WBCA Coaches Poll, beat Yale, 55-39, before a sparse crowd of 551 at JLA. Princeton (18-1, 6-0 Ivy) had a large and vocal following behind its bench. Former UConn great and National Player of the Year Kara Wolters was present to support her former college teammate Berube.

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Depth comes up big for No. 25 Princeton in impressive win at the Palestra

The long awaited and eagerly anticipated showdown between the Penn and Princeton women to open the Ivy season was played at the Palestra Saturday. The two teams came into the contest with a combined record of 22-2, each with but one blemish. First-year Tiger coach Carla Berube stated that she was thrilled to make her Ivy debut in one of the most iconic venues in all of college basketball.

Read moreDepth comes up big for No. 25 Princeton in impressive win at the Palestra

Littlefield and Alarie lead the way for Princeton over Penn State, 72-55

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.

Read moreLittlefield and Alarie lead the way for Princeton over Penn State, 72-55

Ivy women’s hoops roundup – Nov. 20, 2019

Princeton (4-0)

No Abby Meyers against Rider (#3 preseason MAAC) – no problem
No Meyers and Bella Alarie for the 4th quarter at GW – no problem
No Meyers and Alarie for the entire game at Seton Hall (#3 preseason Big East) – no problem
No Meyers and Alarie for three quarters and Carlie Littlefield for the second half against FGCU (#1 preseason ASUN) – no problem

Read moreIvy women’s hoops roundup – Nov. 20, 2019

“We really own that bullseye”: Princeton looks for second three-peat in seven years

Shortly after Princeton’s season ended with an 82-77 defeat in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Kentucky, Tigers head coach Courtney Banghart recounted how her newly elected captains, Bella Alarie and Taylor Baur, informed her that they desperately wanted to get their team to the Sweet 16.  With the new season less than a week away, the Orange & Black still look to aim high.

“After that game, we talked a lot about what the future holds for our team.  We want to make history,” Alarie said at the Tigers’ Media Day on Monday afternoon. “We have high expectations for ourselves, but we know we can reach them.”

Read more“We really own that bullseye”: Princeton looks for second three-peat in seven years

Ivy League women’s basketball preseason power rankings

Ivy Hoops Online’s writing staff voted on where all eight Ivy women’s and men’s basketball teams would end up for the 2019-20 season. Our projected order of finish for the women:

Read moreIvy League women’s basketball preseason power rankings

Princeton women’s basketball releases 2019-20 schedule

The two-time defending regular and postseason Ivy champion Princeton women’s team has announced its 2019-20 schedule, which features a non-conference schedule with two trips to the midwest and six games against teams that made the postseason in 2019.

In November, the Tigers will travel to the state of Iowa, the home of junior Carlie Littlefield, to take on Iowa State and Iowa.  A month later, they will visit the Show-Me State to face Missouri and St. Louis for Gateway City native and senior co-captain Taylor Baur.

Over the course of the pre-Ivy schedule, the Orange & Black will face Rider, Seton Hall, and Hartford from last year’s WNIT, as well as NCAA qualifiers Iowa, Iowa State and Missouri.  The Tigers will also welcome Penn State to Jadwin Gymnasium, looking to avenge last year’s 79-71 overtime defeat.

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Princeton introduces new women’s coach Carla Berube

Although Princeton Athletics named Carla Berube as the Tigers’ new coach all the way back on May 29, it wasn’t until Wednesday afternoon that Princeton’s Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan formally introduced new head coach Berube to the Tigers community and media.

Berube, a national champion with UConn in 1995, said she called her college coach, Geno Auriemma, immediately after the Tigers’ job was posted.

“That’s perfect,” said the Hall of Famer. “You’re ready for it.” He then reached out to Marcoux Samaan that same day to offer his support for his former point guard.

At the end of April, Courtney Banghart left Princeton to take the open position at North Carolina.  Over her 12 years at Princeton’s helm, she built the Tigers program into a conference power with national relevance.  In order to continue the forward progress of the program, the AD knew that this was a very important hire.

Read morePrinceton introduces new women’s coach Carla Berube