Alex Wheatley '€™16 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Alex Wheatley ’16 (Office of Athletic Communications)
Alex Wheatley '€™16 (Office of Athletic Communications)

After taking care of business with two blowout wins this weekend, the women’s basketball team has set the stage for a high-stakes showdown Tuesday night against Penn.

“You always want to have a chance to play for an Ivy League title,” head coach Courtney Banghart said. “And to be able to do that after what this young team has had to go through and all the growing we’ve had to do in a short period of time, it’s really exciting.”

The Tigers, who had just two Ivy League losses over the last four seasons, find themselves in a much tighter title race than they are used to. A loss to Harvard in Jadwin Gymnasium near the start of Ivy play and a March 1 loss to Brown have put them in a tie for first place with the Quakers. Each team has an 11-2 record in the Ancient Eight.

Of course, things would not look so tight if the championship were determined by sheer volume of points scored. Princeton’s average scoring margin (+12.9 points per game) is by far the best in the league, and it has become accustomed to piling on the points. This weekend was no exception, as the Tigers downed Cornell 69-46 Friday and let up just two more points while putting up 92 on Columbia Saturday night.

The Tigers jumped out to a 13-3 lead Friday night, and the game only got more lopsided from there. Alex Wheatley ’16 paced them with 14 points and captain Nicole Hung ’14 had a career night in her final weekend at Jadwin, coming off the bench with 12 points — including two three-pointers — and five rebounds. Hung’s solid weekend came after an injury sidelined her for much of her junior and senior years.

“Her career has been one of resolve,” Banghart said. “To see her get healthy at the right time and use her senior experience this weekend in front her family was really special to see.”

Meanwhile, the defense held Cornell’s Alyssa DiMagno, one of the most dangerous players in the league, to 13 points. DiMagno went just 4 for 12 from the floor and none of her teammates fared much better, as the Big Red only attempted six three-pointers and missed them all.

The Lions hardly offered the Tigers any more resistance the following evening. Given that Princeton put up close to 100 points, it’s surprising that no player had over 15 points, but it isn’t surprising how much production came from the bench. Starting at guard on Senior Night, Hung went 4 for 6 with 11 points and five more boards. The bench put up 46 points. Guard Michelle Miller ’16 had 15 of those, 13 of which came in the first half, and Annie Tarakchian ’16 had 14 points and eight rebounds.

“It gives us validation that what we’re doing is the right thing and how we’re preparing them over the course of the season is working,” Banghart said of the young players’ production.

This flurry of scoring came as Penn also beat Cornell and Columbia, though somewhat less handily. The Quakers lost 84-53 when they faced the Tigers earlier this season, but they have won every game since then save for a three-point loss at Dartmouth. They will visit Jadwin Tuesday night in a do-or-die game; as Harvard has three losses, the winner of the Penn-Princeton contest will receive the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The consolation prize will be a WNIT berth.

Quick Takes

The baseball team notched its first and second wins over the weekend, splitting a four-game series with Michigan at the New York Mets’ training facility in Port St. Lucie, FL. Michael Fagan ’14 let up three runs while striking out 10 Wolverines in six innings Friday while rookie first baseman Nick Hernandez ’17, last week’s Ivy League Rookie of the Week, went 3-for-5 and his classmate, outfielder Danny Baer ’17, went 2-for-4 with two RBI. The Tigers also won 6-5 on Saturday on the strength of two rookie pitchers, Bryce Keller ’17 and Keelan Smithers ’17.

Though Harvard locked up the Ivy title over the weekend, men’s basketball had an admirable last weekend, taking down Cornell and Columbia on the road. Guard T.J. Bray ’14 had 25 points in the Tigers’ 74-64 win over the Lions and averages 18.3 points per game, putting him in position to finish the season at the top of the league in that category pending the season finale against Penn.

No. 8 women’s water polo remains undefeated after sweeping the Harvard Invitational this weekend. The Tigers defeated No. 19 Hartwick and Iona on Saturday and picked up where they left of Sunday morning, beating No. 18 Santa Clara 14-11. Princeton pulled away in the second quarter, outscoring the Broncos 4-0 in that period and gaining enough separation to withstand the Californian’s five-point onslaught in the fourth quarter.