No. 10 Princeton women come back to top No. 7 NC State in NCAA Tournament opener


The No. 10 Princeton women’s basketball team made history for the university and the Ivy League  Friday night, storming back from the brink of elimination to sink No. 7 North Carolina State, 64-63, in a first-round NCAA Tournament matchup at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City.  

With the stunning come-from-behind win, Princeton became the first Ivy League women’s program to win a game in back-to-back NCAA tournaments.  Princeton also became the first Ivy school in history to win games in both the men’s and women’s brackets in the same year.  

Senior guard Grace Stone nailed a clutch corner three with 4.7 seconds left to complete a 9-0 run to close out the game, but not before Madison St. Rose, the Ivy League Rookie of the Year, forced a fumble on NC State’s final possession to seal the win.

The Tigers found a way to triumph despite trailing most of the game against a larger and very talented Wolfpack quintet.  Kaitlyn Chen, the Ivy Player of the Year, and Stone each led the Tigers with 22 points.  First-team All Ivy senior guard Julia Cunningham added 14 for the Tigers, who have now won 16 games in a row.  

However, the unsung hero of this contest was St. Rose, the plucky freshman from Old Bridge, N.J., who struggled all night long until the game was on the line.  St. Rose began the game with an apparent case of nerves, missing one open shot after another.  Scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting, she found a way to turn the game around without the ball.  

With 41 seconds left and Princeton trailing 63-61, a series of plays involving Madisons on both teams ended up determining the game. NC State had possession and Princeton was desperate for a big defensive play that it got when St. Rose trapped reserve junior guard Madison Hayes on the baseline and then grabbed the ball out of her hands.  

The Tigers called timeout to set up a potential game-winning play. However, with 23 seconds to go, Hayes blocked Cunningham’s off-balance shot in the lane and senior forward Jada Boyd rebounded for the Wolfpack.  At that point it looked like the higher seed, which was missing leading scorer Diamond Johnson due to injury, would hold on for the win.  

After advancing the ball into the Tigers’ frontcourt on a St. Rose foul, all the Wolfpack needed to do was inbound the ball and await a certain Princeton foul.  Instead, two-time Ivy Defensive Player of the Year Ellie Mitchell got a paw on the inbounds pass and Stone skied into the air to secure the loose ball for a Tigers steal.  Princeton called its final timeout to set up one more offensive play.

Up to that point, scoring had become an adventure for the Tigers.  After a hot start in the first quarter in which Princeton shot 54% from the field and led 18-17, the Tigers’ shooting had steadily regressed.  By the start of the fourth quarter, the Tigers had gone stone cold, shooting only 39%, including a woeful 5-for-16 from three-point distance.  

With 13 seconds remaining, the Tigers set up a play for the game-winner.  Chen swung the ball to Stone in the right corner, who got the space she needed from a perfect screen set by, you guessed it, St. Rose.  Stone swished it from three-point range, and the Tigers took the lead, 64-63.  

But St. Rose wasn’t done making plays.  NC State still had a chance to win on its final possession with 5 seconds left on the clock.  After the Wolfpack inbounded the ball to the top of the key, St. Rose fronted the ball and stripped it to the floor as time expired.  Final score:  Princeton 64, NC State 63.

After the game, coach Carla Berube paid tribute to her team, especially the player who made the game winning shot. 

“That’s stone cold Grace,” Berube said of the Glen Cove, N.Y. native. In postgame comments, Stone set expectations for more Princeton magic to come.

“We’re not ready to go home – we’re ready for this moment,” Stone said.

It was another win for the ages for Princeton basketball, which in less than a week has won two Ivy League championships and two unforgettable, come-from-behind seeding upsets in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  

Princeton’s season of destiny continues Saturday when the men’s team faces off at 6;10 ET against No. 7 Missouri in Sacramento, Calif. while the women’s team will face No. 2 Utah Sunday at a time to be determined on the Utes’ home court in Salt Lake City. 


1 thought on “No. 10 Princeton women come back to top No. 7 NC State in NCAA Tournament opener”

  1. I’m not ready to go yet. But, if I have to, let it be at a time like this, after one Tiger after another has risen to the occasion and left wonderful memories for all future ones!



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