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

Katie Benzan changes course, decides to play at Maryland for 2020-21

Harvard’s Katie Benzan shifted from the burnt orange of Texas to the black and gold of Maryland as the Terrapins announced her arrival for the 2020-21 season.

The three-time first team All-Ivy guard surprised Ivy hoops fans in late August when she decided to forgo her senior season at Harvard.  Two months later, she chose to play for coach Karen Aston at the University of Texas as a graduate transfer.

After the season, Aston’s contract was not renewed and the Longhorns hired Mississippi State head coach Vic Schaefer on April 5.

Shortly after that, Benzan decided to change course and look elsewhere.

Ivy Hoops Online spoke to Benzan from her home in Wellesley, Mass., where she is taking classes to finish her undergraduate degree in psychology.

Read moreKatie Benzan changes course, decides to play at Maryland for 2020-21

Harvard takes No. 5 Maryland to the limit before falling short, 80-73

For a while, Black Friday looked completely Crimson.

Harvard gave the No. 5 team in the country all it could handle in the semifinals of the Orlando Invitational Friday, holding onto a double-digit lead well into the first half and attaining a 51-44 lead with 11:45 to play.

But Maryland took a lead with 6:41 remaining that it would never relinquish en route to an 80-73 victory.

Read moreHarvard takes No. 5 Maryland to the limit before falling short, 80-73

No. 12 Princeton loses to No. 5 Maryland in NCAA Tournament

Princeton last faced Maryland at College Park in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament, losing to the Terrapins for its first and only defeat of the year. Playing at a neutral site in North Carolina, the No. 12-seeded Tigers not only entertained thoughts of a revenge victory against Maryland, but a possible second round win against N.C. State or Elon.  Unfortunately for the Orange & Black, the No. 5-seeded Terrapins (No. 16 nationally) had other ideas, ending the Tigers’ season for the second time in four years with a convincing 77-57 victory.

The Tigers could not control the tempo or the boards against the Terrapins, especially in the early parts of both halves.  In the opening 10 minutes, Maryland only shot 27 percent from two and 38 percent from three, but the Terrapins outrebounded Princeton by 52 percent and got seven more attempts in the quarter to open a 17-11 lead.  The Tigers, who got pushed away from the basket through most of the first half, finally broke through in the second quarter, hitting five of 10 two-pointers while their defense held the Terrapins without a three to go into the locker room only down 31-26.

Read moreNo. 12 Princeton loses to No. 5 Maryland in NCAA Tournament

No. 12 Princeton to face No. 5 Maryland in NCAA Tournament

After stymieing Penn in the Ivy League Tournament final Sunday, Princeton (24-5) was assigned a No. 12 seed Monday and a matchup with No. 5 Maryland (25-7) at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Tigers and Terrapins will tango Friday at noon.

Princeton returns to the Big Dance after a one-year absence, having become the first at-large Ivy to nab a NCAA bid in 2016.

Read moreNo. 12 Princeton to face No. 5 Maryland in NCAA Tournament

Two-bid Ivy: No. 10 Penn vs. No. 7 Washington, No. 11 Princeton vs. No. 6 West Virginia

#2bidivy got in just under the wire.

For the first time ever, the Ivy League got two NCAA Tournament bids, league champion Penn and at-large Princeton, in the final season without a conference tournament to determine the league’s NCAA Tournament representative.

Penn received the automatic bid after defeating Princeton at Jadwin Gym, 62-60, completing a season sweep of the Tigers. The Quakers were rewarded with their highest seed in school history, a No. 10 seed pitting them against No. 7 Washington. The Quakers (24-4) and Huskies (22-10) will square off on Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Xfinity Center in College Park, Md. A first-round Penn win would set the Quakers up with No. 2 Maryland on the Terrapins’ home court. Then-No. 1 Maryland ousted Princeton from the tournament in the second round of last season’s tournament, ending the Tigers’ undefeated season.

Read moreTwo-bid Ivy: No. 10 Penn vs. No. 7 Washington, No. 11 Princeton vs. No. 6 West Virginia

Princeton bows to No. 6 Maryland, 82-61

Maryland’s Terrapins played as one would expect the No. 6 team in the nation to play last night at Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore. The Tigers held their own in a gritty first half effort, at one point mounting a six-point lead, and were still in it at the break, trailing 35-31.

The bigger, stronger, faster and deeper Terrapin squad wore down its outmanned antagonists in the second half, cruising to an 82-61 win, a decisive margin for Maryland after a respectable wire-to-wire effort by the Tigers. Maryland coach Mark Turgeon had tried for several years to schedule a game in Baltimore to give its considerable fan base there a chance to see his club live and up close. More than 11,000 fans showed up at Royal Farms to welcome the Terrapins for the first time in 16 seasons. Maryland ran its overall record on this floor to 10-2.

Read morePrinceton bows to No. 6 Maryland, 82-61

No. 8 Princeton's undefeated season ends at No. 1 Maryland

Maybe it ended sooner than it could have.

Previously unbeaten No. 8 Princeton was overpowered by No. 1 Maryland in the second half of the Round of 32 matchup on the Terrapins” home floor Monday night, reeling off a 17-2 run to start the second half that distanced themselves from Princeton for good and helped secure the 85-70 victory.

The Tigers (31-1) trailed 42-38 at the half and had harnessed momentum from the program”s first ever NCAA tournament win Saturday against Wisconsin-Green Bay. But Maryland (32-2) shot 12-for-20 from beyond the arc and enjoyed too many hot hands for Princeton to handle. Maryland”s Laurin Mincy led all scorers with 27 points and nbso online casino reviews seven assists, and Princeton guard Blake Dietrick notched 26 points in 40 minutes.

Read moreNo. 8 Princeton's undefeated season ends at No. 1 Maryland