Princeton women come out on top in roller-coaster overtime win over Buffalo

Princeton coach Carla Berube set up a challenging out-of-conference schedule for her club, to say the least. She is focusing on preparation for running the Ivy League gauntlet. The Buffalo Bulls, a top-50 team and an NCAA Tournament team three times in five years, came into Jadwin Gym Tuesday night at 6-2 and riding a five-game winning streak.
The Tigers, on the other hand, were heading in the opposite direction, having lost two straight on the road at Fordham and Seton Hall.
The Bulls, coached by Felisha Legette-Jack, who has more than 300 wins in her 19-year career, are led by Dyaisha Fair, one of the best scorers in the nation.

What played out at Jadwin was a roller coaster of a ball game, requiring an extra five-minute period to settle a matter ultimately decided in the hosts’ favor, 79-77.
The roller coaster didn’t come right away. The Tigers (7-3) jumped out to an early lead, just missing one of those single-digit defensive quarters that have become a hallmark of Berube teams. The score after the opening quarter was 21-10 Princeton. Tiger fans were relieved to see Princeton bounce back after the two recent losses.
In the second quarter, it was the Bulls (6-3) who bounced back in a big way. Behind the hot-shooting Fair and teammates Cheyenne McEvans and Georgia Woolley, the Bulls did a full 180.
A 21-0 run gave Buffalo the lead.

Three Abby Meyers free throws at the end of the half allowed the Tigers to close within one, 34-33.

What looked like it might be a romp turned to a brawl.

Buffalo continued its strong effort in the third quarter, getting to what seemed like a comfortable 46-38 margin with 2:47 remaining. Back came the Tigers, seizing the momentum and the lead at the end of three, 47-46, Several Tigers were running into foul trouble. First, Abby Meyers was hit with her second in the first quarter, sending the Tigers offensive sparkplug to the bench, from where she watched the Buffalo rally. Returning to action in the third period, Meyers committed her third and fourth infractions, sending her to the bench for much of the crucial fourth stanza. Leading rebounder Ellie Mitchell did foul out in the third, obviously hampering the Tigers.
It must be noted that Kaitlyn Chen made her first collegiate start. Chen grew up fast.
The fourth quarter saw the roller coaster going full tilt. Nine times the game was tied and eight times the lead changed hands. With just over a minute left, Grace Stone, who played all 45 minutes, made a nice crossover move at the top of the key. She drove the left side of the lane and made a beautiful layup, drawing a foul. She missed the free throw but gave the Tigers the lead, 65-64. A Tiger free throw made the lead two with less than 10 seconds left. Summer Hemphill got into the lane and drew a foul with one second to go. She made them both to send this thriller into overtime. Unfortunately, it was Meyers’ fifth foul that gave the Bulls their chance. The Tigers would play the extra session without two key starters.
A strange thing happened as the overtime period got underway. The Buffalo coach was assessed a technical foul, sending Julia Cunningham to the line. Your reporter has been unable to learn what offended the referee, but it must have been a doozy. Cunningham made one and then scored on the next possession. She played a very good game, leading the Tigers with 21 points, but fouled out herself early in the extra session. Three starters down, the Tigers played next woman up.
Two Bulls’ free throws set the stage for Kaitlyn Chen. In the next two minutes, Chen was unstoppable, converting on three drives to the basket. Princeton 75, Buffalo 72, 1:45 left. Another Bulls basket brought them within one point. Buffalo had a chance to retake the lead but turned the ball over with a half minute left. Forced to foul, the Bulls sent Maggie Connolly to the line. She canned both, her 10th and 11th points, after three hoops from deep earlier. Chen was fouled after another Buffalo turnover. Her seventh point of the overtime gave the Tigers a four-point lead.
But Fair refused to concede. She hit a remarkable three–pointer with two ticks on the clock, giving her a game-high 31 points. Stone was fouled immediately on the inbounds pass and made one of two.
Final score: Princeton 79, Buffalo 77.
For the game the Tigers had five players in double figures. Cunningham had 21, Grace Stone 16, Meyers 12, Chen 12, and Connolly 11. This was truly a team effort and sends the Tigers into the exam break on a well-earned high note. On Dec. 22, the nationally ranked Texas Longhorns come to Jadwin. I told you Berube challenges her kids.

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