On Tuesday, Princeton women’s basketball head coach Courtney Banghart gave a candid assessment of her team’s approach to its NCAA Tournament opener against Georgetown in College Park, Md. “Last year was our dance,” she said, “and this year is a work trip.”
Ivy League opponents may have already sensed that the Tigers mean business: After dropping a Feb. 4 game at Harvard, defending-champion Princeton dominated the league, winning each of its 10 remaining games, including eight victories by 20 points or more. Even more impressive may be the team’s record – 16-1 – since losing top scorer Niveen Rasheed ’13 to a season-ending knee injury in late December.
In Rasheed’s absence, senior Addie Micir added to her already impressive contributions, leading the Tigers with 92 assists while only turning the ball over 39 times. She also topped the team in scoring (12.1 points per game) and hit a nearly unthinkable 46.8 percent of her 3-point attempts (fourth-best in Division I). Micir was named the Ivy Player of the Year, becoming the first Princeton woman to earn that honor.
(Photos: Office of Athletic Communications)
Two other Tigers – center Devona Allgood ’12 and guard Lauren Edwards ’12 – joined Micir on the All-Ivy first team. Allgood averaged 12 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, while Edwards added 11.7 points per game and made 44.6 percent of her 3-pointers. Princeton’s other starters are Lauren Polansky ’13, a pass-first point guard who averages 2.9 assists per game and was named Ivy Defensive Player of the Year; and Kate Miller ’13, whose minutes increased after Rasheed’s injury. Miller averaged 5.1 points per game in Ivy play.
Banghart’s roster includes just 12 players, and except for Rasheed, each player appeared in at least half of the team’s games. Krystal Hill ’11, Laura Johnson ’12, and Megan Bowen ’13 have been the top reserves. Bowen suffered a shoulder injury in late February and missed the last three games.
Princeton (24-4, 13-1 Ivy) made its first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history last year, bringing a young, wide-eyed, and dynamic team to its first-round match-up with St. John’s. The Tigers held their own but struggled to convert on the offensive end, shooting a season-low 28.3 percent from the field in a 65-49 loss to the Red Storm.
This year, the Tigers are a more experienced, still high-scoring, and remarkably efficient. They’re among the nation’s best shooting teams (44.7 field-goal percentage). That figure may be inflated by Princeton’s relatively weak league schedule. But in nonconference games against nine top-125 opponents (as ranked by the Ratings Percentage Index), the Tigers shot an impressive 41.9 percent – and posted a 6-3 record.
Princeton faces another Big East opponent in the opening round this year. Georgetown (21-10, 10-8 Big East) played one of the nation’s strongest schedules this year, beating Tennessee in November and falling twice to top-ranked Connecticut in the last two weeks of the season. The Hoyas are led by sophomore guard Ta’Shauna “Sugar” Rodgers, a prolific scorer who also ranks among the national leaders in steals. As a team, Georgetown plays an aggressive zone defense that forces 14.1 turnovers per game (14th in Division I).
While Banghart has great respect for Rodgers and the Hoyas, she said that in games against comparable teams, her coaching staff saw signs that the Tigers are ready for this type of challenge. “I think that these kids have [played] against stronger and faster teams than the teams that play in our league, and we haven’t had to adjust to that in the first five minutes of the game,” she said. “I hope that they feel the confidence that we feel in them.”
How to follow the Princeton-Georgetown game
Video: ESPN2 will broadcast the game live, at approximately 2:30 p.m. Eastern (the game time may vary, depending on when the 12:20 p.m. game between Maryland and St. Francis (Pa.) concludes). All of the women’s NCAA Tournament games also are available online through ESPN3.com.
Audio: WPRB 103.3 FM and GoPrincetonTigers.com will provide radio and internet radio coverage.
Live blog: The Daily Princetonian offers score updates and in-game commentary through the CoverItLive platform.