Princeton women’s basketball dismisses Dartmouth, 68-42, to complete weekend Ivy sweep

It was virtually a foregone conclusion that the Princeton women’s basketball team would beat the last-place Dartmouth Big Green  on the second leg of a back-to-back weekend on Saturday afternoon at Jadwin Gymnasium.  

The only real questions coming into this contest were how many points Princeton would win by and whether the Tigers could use the game to regain its swagger.  

For the record, the Tigers won the game by 26 points, 68-42, and remained unbeaten at home this season.  Princeton (22-4, 12-1 Ivy) led the contest wire-to-wire, a feat they hadn’t accomplished since crushing Cornell in Ithaca in early January.

The Tigers were paced against Dartmouth (7-18, 1-12 Ivy) by Madison St. Rose, whose 12 points led all scorers.  Skye Belker contributed 10 points to the Tigers’ cause on 4-for-4 shooting and was named the Player of the Game by the ESPN+ broadcast crew.  

As for whether this game showed that Princeton has regained its mojo after suffering its first loss of the calendar year a weekend ago at Columbia, well, the indications are somewhat mixed.

One thing is clear –  the loss to Columbia, the second in Princeton’s last four matchups against the Lions, has had an impact on the psyche of this team.  In the postgame press conference on Saturday, senior co-captain Ellie Mitchell acknowledged that the loss to Columbia “was a wake-up call” and that the team “has a lot to improve on.”

Mitchell turned in a strong performance against Dartmouth after struggling in the first half on Friday night against Harvard.  The two-time Ivy League Defensive Player of the year grabbed a game-high six rebounds in only 15 minutes of court time for the Tigers.  Even more impressively, Mitchell tallied six points on 3-for-3 shooting, including sinking a pair of sweet mid-range jumpers.  

After the game, Berube confessed she was surprised by Mitchell’s scoring prowess against Dartmouth considering that her star forward had warned she might not be able to shoot the ball on Saturday due to an ailing elbow.

There were other positives in this game for Princeton.  For the second game in a row, St. Rose appeared to be regaining confidence in her shooting touch.  The reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year suffered a slump in February, averaging only 8.5 points per game in six contests.  Prior to February, St. Rose had averaged nearly 17 points per game against Division I opponents this season.

Against Dartmouth, St. Rose sank only five of 12 shots, but she displayed more confidence and used her superior athletic ability and skill to make several elite looking plays.  The Tigers will need St. Rose to round back into her mid-season form if they hope to make a run in the postseason.

Berube also got significant contributions from several bench players, including Fadima Tall, who tallied a career-high nine points on 4 -for-8 shooting in 11 minutes of playing time.  Overall, 12 different Tigers shot their way into the scorebook against Dartmouth with the bench contributing 26 of Princeton’s 68 points.  

Despite these positives, it would be a stretch to say that Princeton showed over the weekend that it has fully recovered from a challenging four-game road trip that culminated in the bruising loss at Columbia last Saturday.  

Against Harvard on Friday night, the Tigers were outplayed for significant stretches and trailed at half for the first time at home this season.  And on Saturday, against a much smaller, less capable Dartmouth squad, Princeton struggled at times in the first half, especially in the second quarter when the Big Green equaled the Tigers with 16 points.

Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that Berube’s squad at a minimum steadied the ship by notching two more, double-digit wins and remaining level with Columbia for first place in the Ivy League standings.  Berube was nothing but positive in her postgame assessment on Saturday.

“I thought we took care of business the way we needed to,” Berube said, noting that it was a “great weekend” for her team.  

Berube was also clear about the next challenge facing the Tigers – the Penn Quakers. 

“We had a tough game with them at the Palestra,” noted Berube in the postgame press conference on Saturday.  The Quakers, who clinched the fourth and final berth to Ivy Madness by defeating Harvard on Saturday, are on a roll and would love nothing more than to knock Princeton out of first place when these two rivals clash in the regular season finale next weekend at Jadwin Gym.  

At stake for the Tigers is a sixth consecutive Ivy League title and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Ivy League Tournament.  The matchup with Penn will also mark the final home game for an incredible senior class, led by Mitchell, Chet Nweke and the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, Kaitlyn Chen. 

“I try not to think about it,” Mitchell said when asked after the Dartmouth game about the pending conclusion of her career at Old Nassau. “Princeton basketball has been my world.”