No. 11 Princeton couldn’t secure the first NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 berth in Ivy League history in a thrilling second-round matchup at No. 3 Indiana Monday night, overcoming early foul troubles and a shaky second quarter only to fall just short, 56-55, in the final seconds.
Princeton (25-5, 14-0 Ivy) allowed the Hoosiers’ game-winning bucket from senior guard Grace Berger with 29 seconds left, giving Indiana (24-8, 11-5 Big Ten) a 54-52 lead. Princeton’s subsequent possession went awry with an errant pass from sophomore guard Kaitlyn Chen in the final game of her first year of action.
Two free throws from Aleksa Gulbe sealed the Hoosiers’ victory, creating a cushion to absorb Ivy Player of the Year Abby Meyers’ three-pointer as time expired to arrive at the 56-55 final score at Assembly Hall.
Meyers and Chen each picked up two early fouls, hindering Princeton’s early efforts offensively. But they were both part of Princeton’s push to rise from a 43-29 deficit with 6:16 left in the third quarter to a 52-51 lead with 58 seconds left.
Berger subsequently hit one of two free throws to tie the game at 52-52, followed by a missed three from Meyers that led to Berger’s game-winning shot.
Princeton held Indiana to just six points in the third quarter, and the Hoosiers committed 17 turnovers.
But Indiana did just enough to squeak by, notching 22 points against Princeton’s fourth-ranked scoring defense nationally in the second quarter.
Junior guards Grace Stone and Julia Cunningham picked up the scoring slack early after Meyers and Chen quickly got into foul trouble, leading the Tigers with 13 points apiece.
Sophomore forward Ellie Mitchell lived up to her Ivy Defensive Player of the Year honor, grabbing 15 rebounds (10 defensive) and notching a steal and a block while adding six points in 40 minutes.
Berger led Indiana with 15 points and seven rebounds in 39 minutes.
Meyers picked up her second foul just four minutes into the game, all but ensuring she wouldn’t approach the 29-point mark she achieved in Princeton’s first-round win over No. 6 Kentucky Saturday. The Ivy Player of the Year finished with 11 points on 4-for-15 shooting in 31 minutes. Chen posted 10 points and five boards in 36 minutes.
Princeton’s loss ends an extraordinary run that saw the program pick up its second NCAA Tournament win Saturday and run up its win streak versus Ivy competition to 42 games.
The 2021-22 Tigers were one of the best, most complete Ivy teams in recent memory, women’s or men’s. Even with Meyers graduating, the Tigers are the class of the Ivy League until further notice, and with a roster so deep and devoted to stifling defense, they’ve got more big moments like this in store in the future.