Kaitlyn Chen ’24, at center above, celebrates a third Ivy Tournament title on March 16, the same day Matt Allocco ’24 and the Princeton men were upset by Brown.
Photo: LEM Photography

Ellie Mitchell ’24 and Kaitlyn Chen ’24 didn’t start their time at Princeton together. Mitchell was a freshman on the 2019-20 women’s basketball team that saw its March Madness dreams shut down by COVID. Chen arrived the next fall, living off campus as a freshman while Mitchell took a gap year. But for the last three seasons, the two have defined one of Princeton’s most remarkable runs in any sport: three years of dominance in the Ivy League, each capped with regular-season and Ivy Tournament championships.

“Obviously, on the court we spend a lot of time together, but off the court as well,” Mitchell said. “You probably can’t find me, Kaitlyn, or Chet [Nweke ’24] without one of the others by their side. … And I think our ability to just have fun, to have that kind of trust and that strong relationship — no matter how anything is going, we know we’re there for each other. It makes it more fun to be playing with people you love.”

Led by Chen and Mitchell, Princeton beat this season’s other Ivy co-champion, Columbia, on Columbia’s home court March 16 to win the Ivy Tournament and an automatic NCAA Tournament bid. (The Lions also reached the NCAAs, as an at-large selection.) 

The Tigers had won first-round NCAA games in the last two years, but this season’s matchup against West Virginia and its high-pressure defense derailed that trend. Playing in Iowa City in the second game of a March 23 doubleheader that featured Iowa’s Caitlin Clark in the opener, Princeton seemed touched by stardust early, swishing three of its first four shots and leading by two at halftime. But the Mountaineers forced 16 second-half turnovers, and the Tigers could not recover, losing 63-53.

Afterward, head coach Carla Berube thanked her three seniors, Chen, Mitchell, and Nweke, whose combined record in their three seasons together was 74-16. “You couldn’t find three people that care more, that want to be great,” she said. “I think they’ve left an incredible legacy.”


Matt Allocco ’24
Matt Allocco ’24
Photo: LEM Photography

For the Princeton men’s team, March began with brilliance — three commanding wins to wrap up a third straight Ivy League regular-season championship — but ended with two disappointing postseason losses. 

The Tigers, seeded first in the Ivy Tournament, ran into a hot-shooting Brown squad in the opening round March 16. The Bears made 55% of their first-half shots and led by as many as 22 points early in the second before Princeton freshman Dalen Davis almost single-handedly drew the Tigers back into contention. Matt Allocco ’24, who finished with 20 points, sank a 3-pointer with 44 seconds left to cut Brown’s lead to 84-81. But the Bears made free throws, broke Princeton’s full-court pressure, and sealed the game in the waning seconds.

While Princeton’s 24-4 record was not enough to earn an NCAA at-large berth, the Tigers did land a home game in the National Invitation Tournament March 20, hosting UNLV, a school it last played in 1998, when head coach Mitch Henderson ’98 was a senior.

Like Brown, UNLV surged ahead in the second half and staved off a series of Princeton rallies, winning 84-77. Zach Martini ’24, in his final game as a Tiger, made five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points. It was Princeton’s only home loss of the season.

“It was hard to watch tonight because I didn’t think we were us,” Henderson said. “[It was] a tough way to end the season. I thought we could keep winning, but man, what a pleasure to be around this group.” 

Hope Perry ’24 and Jon Solomon contributed reporting to this story.