The Princeton Tigers took their NCAA-best 25-game winning streak on the road to Rhode Island Saturday.
The result was a disappointing 61-53 loss at the hands of the unbeaten Rams.
The last defeat suffered by the Tigers occurred, ironically, two years ago to the day in overtime at Iowa.
Things started well for the visitors, who continued their defensive wizardry by holding the Rams to just two first-quarter scores and another single-digit effort. Behind the stellar play of Abby Meyers, the Tigers led 11-2 after 10 minutes. The talented Rams turned the tables on the Tigers in the second period limiting Princeton to nine points. The Tigers clung to a one-point lead at the half, 20-19, but Carla Berube knew her club was in a real scrap.
Neither team could do much on offense, a tribute to the defensive effort from both squads. After three quarters, the Tigers still held the lead at 35-34. Princeton continued to ride the hot-shooting Meyers who had 22 of her team’s 35, shooting 8-for-15 from the field in a career best for Meyers.
Ominously for the Tigers, though, Meyers came up limping at the end the third period, going to the bench with an apparent thigh injury.
The Potomac, Md. native returned only briefly and was clearly not at her best. Without her, the offense continued to struggle.
The Rams grabbed the lead early in the final stanza with back-to-back layups. A score by sophomore guard Kaitlyn Chen brought the Tigers within one at 38-37, but it was all Rams after that. Whether a healthy Meyers would have made enough of a difference to lead the Tigers to a win is impossible to say, but her absence was a huge factor.
The Rams ended the contest with four players in double figures led by redshirt senior forward Emmanuelle Tahane, a dominant post player who scored 16 points and added a career-high 19 rebounds. Tahane is a lock to make the Atlantic 10’s all-conference team. Sophomore guard Dolly Cairns scored 15 points, including two clutch threes in the fourth quarter to keep the Tigers at bay.
Tigers other than Meyers made 14 shots in 54 attempts. None of them reached double figures, although sophomore forward Ellie Mitchell did an impressive job on the glass grabbing 15 rebounds. For the first time in the young season, Princeton struggled from deep, managing only three hoops in 14 attempts. One must tip their cap to the Rams for their terrific defense in this tilt.
No word yet from the Tigers as to the condition of Meyers. She did appear briefly in the fourth period, which suggests her injury may not be serious. Berube wisely pulled her after about a minute, not wishing to jeopardize her team’s best weapon on offense.
From here the Tigers go to Philadelphia to face the Temple Owls on Tuesday evening. They will return home on Sun., Nov. 28 to take on Maine in a 1 p.m. start. This will be the first game in the only men’s and women’s doubleheader at Jadwin Gym this season. The men square off against Fairleigh Dickinson at 4 p.m.