Fordham (2-2, 0-0 Atlantic 10) has as much experience as any team in the country, starting two seniors and three grad students. Fortunately, the Tigers had a terrific shooting night, banging home 28 shots in just 52 attempts (54%). From deep, Princeton made four of eight attempts (50%).
Carla Berube’s Princeton squad squared off Wednesday evening against a Fordham program that fielded a team that defeated the Tigers last season in the Bronx, 76-67.
But for the second straight game, Princeton avenged a loss from last season by hanging on to notch a narrow 70-67 win over a very talented and veteran Rams team at Jadwin Gym. The Tigers (3-1, 0-0 Ivy) had turned the tables on in-state rival Seton Hall two nights earlier.
Grace Stone came up huge for the home team, going 7-for-10, contributing two of her team’s four triples to tie her career high of 19 points. Stone was even busier on defense, assigned to guard the Rams’ leading scorer, Anna DeWolfe.
DeWolfe is a 20-point-plus scorer every night and registered 22 against Maryland on Sunday. Stone held her to a desultory six points and only six shots.
Four Tigers reached double figures including Kaitlyn Chen, who joined Stone with 19 points. Chen has quickly emerged as the team’s floor leader, assuming the role held last year by departed Ivy Player of the Year Abby Meyers. Chen was a very efficient 8-for-9 from the field. The ever reliable Julia Cunningham added 13 while Ellie Mitchell contributed a double-double of 10 points and 14 rebounds, along with five steals.
This was an exciting game to watch matching two mid-major high-quality programs who expect to contend for their conference championships. Princeton ended the first quarter on a 6-0 run to lead 16-11.
Stone heated up in the second period, scoring seven straight points. Fordham rallied to tie the score at 28. Once again, a Tiger 11-5 charge sent the hosts into halftime leading, 39-33.
Berube is known to make key halftime adjustments, which usually give the Tigers a definite advantage in the third quarter. Tonight, however, a 13-4 sprint enabled the Rams to seize the initiative and a 46-43 lead. Chen sparked a Tigers six-point rally, allowing them to hold on after three periods, 53-50.
The fourth quarter was excruciating for both teams. Fordham once again grabbed a one point lead, 58-57, four minutes in. At the three-minute mark, Stone canned a huge three-ball, handing the Tigers a 62-61 lead they would not relinquish.
A Chen bucket added on to the lead. Mitchell grabbed two offensive rebounds on the same possession, wiping almost a minute off the clock. The Rams, needing the ball, were forced to foul. Five Tiger free throws in the last 24 seconds iced the win.
Games like this, win or lose, are designed to prepare the Tigers for Ivy League play. Suffice it to say that Fordham would more than hold its own against any Ivy team.
On Saturday afternoon, the Tigers take on Buffalo hoping for another win to match last year’s Jadwin cliffhanger, a thrilling overtime win for the Tigers, 79-77. Buffalo compiled a 25-9 record last season, which impressed Syracuse enough to hire away its coach, Felisha Legette-Jack. Fortunately for the Tigers, Legette-Jack took Buffalo’s best player, Dyaisha Fair, with her. Fair torched the Tigers last year for 31 points in 45 minutes.
It should be a terrific game Saturday.