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

Princeton women pummel Penn, 80-44

This week brought good news for the Tiger women. On Monday they received word that their 17-game winning streak and overall 21-1 record had vaulted them to No. 21 in the Coaches Poll and No. 23 in the AP Poll. Tiger do-everything player, Bella Alarie was named national Player of the Week by the USBWA. Princeton hoped to add to the excitement by dispatching their nearest Ivy competitor, second-place Penn, in the Tuesday night rematch at Jadwin Gym.

Read morePrinceton women pummel Penn, 80-44

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.

Read morePrinceton women control the inside, defeat Harvard for weekend sweep

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

Princeton defeats FGCU, Alarie and Littlefield leave with injuries

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.

Read morePrinceton defeats FGCU, Alarie and Littlefield leave with injuries

Ivy League player carousel

The biggest story of the off-season was Miye Oni being selected in June’s NBA Draft.  The Yale junior and reigning Ivy Player of the Year decided to leave school early and leave his name in the draft.  Despite falling to the late second round, a perilous spot to making an NBA roster, Oni impressed in the Summer League and earned a guaranteed contract with the Utah Jazz.  He is playing just as well in the pre-season and looks to be a real steal for the Jazz.

Read moreIvy League player carousel

Ivy hoops roundup – April 27, 2019

Former Dartmouth assistant coach John Andrzejek has joined Kyle Smith’s staff at Washington State as its director of analytics.  This will be Andrzejek’s third stint with the former Lions head coach.  While completing his undergraduate degree in philosophy in just two and a half years from Columbia in 2013, Andrzejek served as the Lions’ team manager during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons before being hired as the team’s director of basketball operations in July of 2014.  He stayed in that spot until the 2016-2017 season, when he went west to join Smith as the University of San Francisco’s director of basketball operations for a year.

Read moreIvy hoops roundup – April 27, 2019

2019 Ivy men’s and women’s recruiting update

Since Ivy recruits do not sign National Letters of Intent, the Athletic Departments of the Ancient Eight schools cannot comment on student-athletes’ commitments until after they are formally accepted and place their deposits.  As a result, the following list is a summary of committed recruits for the Class of 2023 that have been obtained from searching the internet.

If any reader has any athlete to add to the list, please send a note to tips@ivyhoopsonline.com.

Read more2019 Ivy men’s and women’s recruiting update