Alarie dominates as Princeton defeats Penn, 68-53

Princeton’s Bella Alarie scored 33 points, including 20 in the second half, to lead the Tigers to a 68-53 victory at arch-rival Penn Tuesday night. With the win, the Orange & Black move into a tie for first place with the Quakers heading into the final two weekends of the season.

The Tigers (16-9, 8-2 Ivy) took control in each of the four quarters, forcing the Quakers (18-5, 8-2) to constantly play catch-up.  While the Red & Blue were able to battle back and stay close over the first three quarters, they ran out of answers in the final stanza.

Princeton jumped out to a 12-6 lead over the game’s first 7:20, but Penn finished on a 6-3 run to make it 15-12 in favor of the Tigers after one quarter.  In the second, Princeton pushed the lead to eight, 24-16, by the 6:19 mark, but the Quakers rebounded with a 7-0 run to make it a 24-23 game with four minutes to go in the first half.  The Tigers regrouped to extend the lead to 33-26, but a Kendall Grasela three and Princess Aghayere jumper in the last minute made it a 33-31 contest at the end of the half.

After struggling in the second half of both games this past weekend against Cornell and Columbia, the Tigers looked to get a good start at the beginning of the third quarter tonight.  The team let its leader take charge as Alarie put up eight straight points.  A Sydney Jordan fastbreak layup finished the 10-0 run, giving Princeton a 43-31 lead three minutes into the second half.  With the visitors up 47-37, the Quakers ended the frame on a 9-3 run to make it a 50-46 game with 10 minutes left in regulation.

Just when Penn looked like it might finally have momentum, Princeton tightened its defense, holding the Red & Blue without a field goal over the first four minutes as they increased their lead to 10, 58-48.  A Phobe Sterba three at the 5:54 mark made it a seven-point game, but that would be the last field goal the Quakers would make and the closest the team would get.

The Tigers only shot 28 percent (5-for-18) from three, but they hit 50 percent (20-for-40) from two and 77 percent (13-for-17) from the free throw line. The Quakers, meanwhile, shot 73 percent (8-for-11) from the charity stripe, but could only manage 21 percent (3-for-14) from outside the arc and 37 percent (18-for-49) from inside the arc.  The one area the Quakers controlled in the first half was points in the paint, where the Red & Blue held a 20-12 advantage. The Tigers took that away in the last 20 minutes, ending the second half with six more points in the paint to leave the Quakers only up two on the night.

Alarie’s 33 points came on 13-for-21 (62 percent) shooting from the field and a 7-for-10 (70 percent) mark at the free throw line.  In the Tigers 66-60 loss to Penn at Jadwin in January, the reigning Ivy Player of the Year scored a game-high 21 points, but shot 6-for-18 (33 percent) from the field and 9-for-15 (60 percent) at the line.

In addition to scoring 49 percent of her team’s points in tonight’s victory, Alarie added 10 rebounds (eight offensive) and three blocks.  Carlie Littlefield had 14 points, six assists and five rebounds for the Tigers, while Gabrielle Rush added 13 points (11 in the first half).

Penn was led by Aghayere, Grasela and Eleah Parker, who scored 14, 11, and 10 points, respectively.  Unfortunately for the Quakers, Grasela and Parker were held scoreless in the second half.

The Tigers’ sixth straight victory secured a season split with the Quakers.  Due to Princeton’s 75-71 win at third-place Harvard and Penn’s 80-72 double overtime defeat to the Crimson, the Tigers hold the all-important tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Ivy Tournament.

The two teams will have quick turnarounds as Princeton hosts fourth-place Dartmouth (12-11, 5-5) on Friday and Penn takes on Harvard (14-9, 7-3).


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