It was a history-making season for the women’s basketball team. Princeton dominated the Ivy League with a 14–0 conference record — the first Ivy team to go undefeated in league play twice in three years — and earned a ninth seed in the NCAA Tournament, the highest for any Ivy League team in history. The Tigers outscored their league opponents by an average of 31 points per game, another conference record. And the team was ranked No. 24 in the Associated Press poll, becoming the first women’s Ivy League basketball team to place in the top 25.
But on March 17, the Tigers failed to reach their ultimate goal: winning a game in the postseason. With a 67–64 loss to eighth-seed Kansas State, Princeton was eliminated in the first round of the tournament for the third straight year.
The Tigers’ performance against Kansas State far exceeded their two previous NCAA appearances, when Princeton trailed by double digits at halftime. This year’s game was close until the final buzzer.
“This is a game we could have and should have won, but we didn’t,” head coach Courtney Banghart said after the loss.
Princeton looked nervous in the opening minutes, committing three turnovers and missing four shots before scoring its first points. But the Tigers quickly found their footing and took a five-point lead, their largest advantage ever in a tournament game. Ivy League Player of the Year Niveen Rasheed ’13 capped the run with a three-pointer and a jump shot and finished with a team-high 20 points.
The Tigers trailed by four points at halftime, but center Devona Allgood ’12 helped them turn the tide again. After Rasheed missed a free throw that could have tied the game early in the period, Allgood ripped the ball away from a Kansas State forward and made a layup while getting fouled, sinking the bonus shot to give Princeton a two-point lead.
Allgood made seven of 10 shots for 15 points and added a game-high 12 rebounds, while All-Ivy guard Lauren Edwards ’12 also scored 15 points. But it was not quite enough for the Tigers, whose late comeback attempts fell short in the final minute.
The loss was Princeton’s first defeat since mid-December, ending a 17-game winning streak. The Tigers finished the season at 24–5.
“This was definitely the best we’ve played out here in the tournament,” Allgood said. “We don’t have anything to hang our heads about. We did what we wanted, except win.”
Three of the players who led the team to its dominant position — Allgood, Edwards, and point guard Laura Johnson ’12 — will graduate in June. For the remaining Tigers, their dreams of winning an NCAA Tournament game, three seasons in the making, will have to wait another year.