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.)

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Ivy hoops roundup – On the move

Our latest Ivy hoops roundup features the 2019-20 Academic All-Ivies and a whole lot of Ivy graduate transfers on the move:

Academic All-Ivies announced 

The Ivy League released its winter edition of the 2019-20 Academic All-Ivy list Thursday. The basketball honorees were:

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IHO 2019-20 Women’s All-Ivy Awards

Here’s what you’ve all been waiting for: the 2019-20 Ivy Hoops Online Women’s All-Ivy honorees as selected by IHO contributors, which are notably different from the selections that the Ivy League released:

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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.

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No. 21/No. 17 Princeton women defeat Columbia as Alarie and Littlefield make history

Princeton (AP No. 21, Coaches No. 17) pulled off another patented second-half runaway at Levien Gym Friday night and made history in the process.

The Tigers looked like they could be in for their first real fight of Ivy League play as the Lions trimmed their lead to 36-31 1:56 into the third quarter.

But Princeton outscored Columbia 19-8 the rest of the quarter en route to a 77-52 win to stay unbeaten in conference action.

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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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Princeton women control the inside, defeat Harvard for weekend sweep

Princeton used its inside strength to outrebound Harvard by 15 and score 18 more points in the paint to cruise past Harvard, 60-46, Saturday night at Lavietes Pavilion.

With the game tied after the first five minutes, the Tigers (15-1, 3-0 Ivy) closed out the frame on an 8-0 run to finish with a 17-9 advantage.  Princeton stretched the lead to 14 at the three-minute mark of the second quarter before Jeannie Boehm, Maggie McCarthy and Maddie Stuhlreyer led the Crimson (11-6, 2-2) on a 7-0 run.  With one possession left in the half, Carlie Littlefield got the ball to an open Bella Alarie, who calmly hit a three from the top of the key to make it 32-22.

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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.

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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.

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What each Ivy women’s team’s fans should be thankful for this Thanksgiving season

It’s Thanksgiving weekend, which means it’s time to take stock of what followers of each Ivy women’s team should be thankful for at this point of the season:

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