No. 25 Princeton women’s basketball muzzles Yale, 70-25

After nearly spoiling its undefeated Ivy League season at Brown on Friday night, the Princeton women’s basketball team rode into New Haven on Saturday looking to make a statement as it closed out a back-to-back road weekend in the Ivy League. 

Statement made.

The Tigers pounded the Bulldogs, 70-25, holding the home team to its lowest point total in the 21st century.  

The Tigers were led by senior co-captain Kaitlyn Chen, who led all scorers with 18 points on an efficient 7-for-9 shooting night. Chen also dished out a game-high six assists, grabbed two rebounds and blocked two shots in just 29 minutes of playing time.  

Overall, 10 Tigers got onto the score sheet for coach Carla Berube in this lopsided affair, including sophomore Tabitha Amanze, who registered a career-high nine points in 11 minutes of court time.  

Yale desperately needed a win to keep its hopes alive of qualifying for the fourth and final slot in Ivy Madness, and early on, the Bulldogs played with intensity and remained competitive with Princeton.  Jenna Clark, a 5-foot-7 senior guard from Pittsburgh, hit a long jumper to give Yale the first two points of the game.  Clark finished with a team-high eight points in the contest.

After senior guard Klara Astrom stripped the ball from Madison St. Rose, junior guard Nyla McGill hit a jumper and Yale led 4-2 with 8:12 to go in the first quarter. McGill, the reigning Ivy League co-Defensive Player of the Year, scored again when Ellie Mitchell, the other Ivy co-Defensive Player of the Year, made a careless pass that McGill picked off and took to the house.  The play echoed a similar mistake committed by Mitchell on Friday night against Brown, and for a moment, there was some doubt about whether the Tigers were going to have another challenging night.  

But that doubt lasted for only for a moment. Literally.

As soon as McGill scored off of Mitchell’s turnover to make the score 6-4 in favor of Yale, Chen hoisted a three-quarter-length-of-the-court pass to Parker Hill, who was camped under Yale’s basket.  The 6-foot-4 junior from Bethesda, Md. spun around and dropped the ball in the hoop before the TV cameras could even capture the moment.  From there, it was all Princeton.

On Yale’s next possession, Princeton set up its trademark defense and forced a Yale shot clock violation.  It was one of 27 Yale turnovers on the night.  

With a chance to take their first lead, the Tigers worked the ball back to Hill in the post, who pivoted and banked the ball smartly off the glass for two points. Hill finished the game with eight points off a perfect 4-for-4 effort from the field.  She also grabbed three rebounds and contributed an assist and a steal.  Hill got the start in this contest in place of senior Chet Nweke, who wasn’t feeling well as per Berube, who communicated with Ivy Hoops Online after the game.  

The Tigers built their lead when Mitchell set a pick for Skye Belker, who motored down the right side of the lane for an uncontested layup to make it 10-6.  Then Chen stole the ball from Clark and took it the distance for another layup to put the Tigers in front 12-6 with a little over four minutes left in the first quarter.  The Tigers led 19-8 at the end of the first stanza.

In the second quarter, Chen took command of the game.  The reigning Ivy Player of the Year hit a straight-on three to make it 22-10.  Two possessions later, Chen drove the lane, drew a foul, and canned both free throws. With 2:47 to go in the second quarter, Chen again drove to the cup and deposited a layup to give Princeton a 32-15 lead at the half.  The Tigers’ floor general was slowly draining the life from the Bulldogs.

In the second half, Yale quickly surrendered to Princeton’s unrelenting defensive pressure. The Bulldogs turned the ball over on four of their first five possessions of the third quarter and managed to tally only six points in the entire stanza.  

The fourth quarter was even worse for the home team as a dispirited Yale squad managed to score only four points and committed five turnovers against Princeton’s bench.  In the end, the Bulldogs could not muster double digits in any quarter of the game.  

Yale’s 25 points were the fewest allowed by Princeton since 1981, when the Tigers defeated Barnard College 96-14. 

Princeton’s 50-point margin of victory on Saturday was the largest since the Tigers demolished Penn, 78-27, on March 8, 2011.

In many ways, this was a get-right game for Princeton.  Madison St. Rose, who had struggled in recent games, got back on track with 10 points on 4-for-9 shooting.  The sophomore guard played especially well on defense, converting steals into fastbreak points on multiple occasions.  

Perhaps the best moment of the game for Princeton came when Olivia Hutcherson, a 5-foot-11 freshman from Johns Creek, Ga., scored her first points in a Princeton uniform with just over two minutes to play in the game.  Hutcherson finished with four points on 2-for-2 shooting in just five minutes of play.  

With the win, Princeton stretched its winning streak to 15 games, fourth- longest in the nation.  Princeton’s NET ranking climbed to No. 27 after sweeping Brown and Yale over the weekend, placing the Tigers in position for an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament in the event they fail to win the Ivy League tournament at Columbia next month.

Speaking of Columbia, the Lions await the Tigers at Levien Gymnasium next Saturday afternoon in the showdown of the year in the Ivy League so far.  Asked by the ESPN+ broadcast crew to comment on the Tigers’ looming matchup with Columbia, Berube responded, “We’ve got a lot of work to do to prepare for that.  They’re playing very, very well so it’s going to take a great effort from us in a tough place to play.”