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.
The Tigers lead was still 10 with three minutes left in the third, when Littlefield and Ellie Mitchell close out the quarter on a 6-0 run. Harvard’s Rachel Levy opened the fourth with a layup, but Princeton countered with nine straight points from Littlefield, Mitchell, Alarie and Julia Cunningham to make it a 56-33 game with six minutes left.
The lead was 20 three minutes later, when the Orange & Black emptied the bench and effectively signaled the end of the contest.
In a battle that pitted Harvard’s outside prowess vs Princeton’s strong inside play, the defending champions prevailed. The Crimson made eight three-pointers with 42% accuracy but could only manage 10 two-pointers with 36% success, seize 13% of their offensive rebounding opportunities and earn 16 points in the paint.
The Tigers, while only managing four three-pointers, cleaned up on the inside. The Orange & Black outrebounded the Crimson, 38-25, secured 39% of their offensive rebounding opportunities, made 21 two-pointers with 55% shooting and captured 34 points in the paint.
Julia Cunningham led all scorers with 16 points. Alarie added 13 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals. Littlefield finished with 10 points, five assists and four steals. Mitchell managed nine points and four rebounds in only 14 minutes off the bench.
Boehm ended the night with 10 points, but the Tigers held the Ivy League’s leading rebounder to only two. Lola Mullaney, who entered the game fifth in the conference in scoring with 15.7 points per game, was limited to only 10.
Princeton, winners of 11 straight, came back from its three-week break with a road sweep and is a half-game back of 4-0 Yale atop the Ivy standings. Despite the loss, Harvard had a successful weekend after beating Penn Friday night. The Crimson are now 2-2 in league play, tied for third with Columbia and Cornell.
League play will pick up for both teams next weekend, when Princeton hosts the Cs and Harvard welcomes Yale and Brown, which remains winless in Ivy play at 0-4.