Harvard women hand Princeton its first Ivy loss in 43 games in conference opener

Junior guard Lola Mullaney helped power Harvard to a win over Princeton at Lavietes Pavilion Saturday afternoon that marked the Tigers’ first loss in Ivy play since Feb. 8, 2019. (Photo by Erica Denhoff)

1,423 days.

That’s how long it had been since Princeton women’s basketball lost a game to an Ivy opponent.

But Harvard snapped the Tigers’ winning streak spanning 42 games, three Ivy League championships and two head coaches at Lavietes Pavilion Saturday afternoon in the Ivy opener for both teams.

Harvard led nearly wire to wire in a 67-59 triumph over the Tigers, holding on down the stretch and salting the game away with a 5-0 game-ending run from the foul line in the final 22 seconds.

It was Harvard’s first Ivy game under first-year head coach Carrie Moore, who was an assistant coach for Princeton during its back-to-back Ivy title runs in 2017-18 and 2018-19 – the latter of which started the 42-game Ivy winning streak.

Princeton’s loss dropped the Tigers to 30-1 in Ivy play under Carla Berube in her third season at the helm after taking over for Courtney Banghart in 2019.

Harvard (8-5, 1-0 Ivy) snapped the streak with authority, leading for nearly 37 out of 40 minutes and never trailing after Princeton (8-4, 0-1) claimed a 4-3 edge 2:12 into the game.

Senior guard McKenzie Forbes and sophomore guard Harmoni Turner led Harvard with 17 points each. Forbes’ scoring came on 7-for-12 field-goal shooting, including 3-for-5 from three-point range, and the Folsom, Calif. native also contributed six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Turner added nine boards, two swats and two steals to go with her 17 points. Junior guard Lola Mullaney, native of Rumson, N.J. (roughly 50 miles from Princeton) contributed 12 points on 4-for-11 field-goal shooting in a team-high 38 minutes.

Harvard enjoyed a decisive advantage at the free-throw line, shooting 16-for-19. Turner outscored Princeton from the foul line by herself, sinking eight of nine attempts there while the visitors hit six of seven.

The Crimson have the second-best scoring offense and three-point field-goal percentage in the Ivy League, but they didn’t rely on shoot shooting to upset Princeton. The Tigers outshot the Crimson, going 24-for-63 (38.1%) from the field while the home team shot 22-for-62 (35.5%). But Harvard’s defense frustrated Princeton early, with the Tigers shooting just 9-for-31 (29%) in the first half.

Junior guard Kaitlyn Chen was the only Tiger to score in double figures, registering a game-high 21 points on 8-for-18 field-goal shooting. Junior forward Ellie Mitchell posted 14 rebounds and eight points in 26 minutes.

Harvard’s largest lead came with 4:38 left in the second quarter, a 31-18 advantage. Princeton managed the last six points of the period to arrive at a 31-24 halftime deficit that held up for an historic result.

The Crimson had given Princeton its tightest contest in Ivy action last season in a 72-67 loss to the Tigers in a 2022 Ivy League Tournament quarterfinal matchup at Lavietes,

Harvard entered Saturday ranked 94th in the NET rankings, 42 slots behind Princeton and 58 behind Ivy-leading Columbia, which routed Yale Saturday afternoon. The Crimson had notched two nonconference November wins at home over teams above them in the NET rankings: No. 78 Rhode Island and No. 89 Boston College.

But beating Princeton to begin Ivy play in the Carrie Moore era is a much bigger feat – one that appeared to be no fluke and a harbinger of greater parity to come for Ivy League basketball in 2023.

3 thoughts on “Harvard women hand Princeton its first Ivy loss in 43 games in conference opener”

  1. I know that Carrie Moore is replacing a widely revered coach in Cambridge, but she has clearly charged up the Crimson program (with some impressive commits on the way). Isn’t it great to start Ivy conference play with no clear idea how the season will turn out?

  2. This is not the Tiger women’s team of the past decade. While the defense is still tight and reliable, the offense is not consistent. Chen is super and continues to get better. But after her there is not the cast of reliable scorers that has characterized recent Tiger teams. Princeton will have several low scoring games that could go either way against 3 to 4 other Ivies in a vastly improved league.

  3. Quite right, Tiger: No Bella Alaric, no Abby Meyers. Ellie Mitchell is a wonderful defender and vacuums up rebounds, and the Princeton women can beat any team in the Ivies — and be beaten by half of them. It makes for a good year and a much more promising era for a lot of us who wouldn’t wear orange and black even for Halloween.

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