Alarie ’20, the all-everything center, pushes her team in another championship run

With an average of 24.5 points in Ivy League games, Bella Alarie ’20 broke Princeton’s single-season record.
Beverly Schaefer
For Bella Alarie ’20, Princeton’s Feb. 22 game against Cornell was a rare night of frustration. The Big Red had limited the women’s basketball team’s leading scorer to just eight points (less than a third of her average in Ivy League games), and in the fourth quarter, the Tigers’ 21-point lead dwindled to just two in the final minute. 

But when Princeton needed a basket to keep Cornell at bay, there was no question who’d get the ball. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that on the last possession, get Bella a low-post touch,” head coach Courtney Banghart said.

Alarie caught a pass on the right side of the foul lane with a defender at her back, calmly dribbled twice, and banked in a layup to give her team a 68–64 victory. 

It was the kind of move that one might expect from a 6-foot-4-inch center. But Alarie’s value to the Tigers lies in the many un-center-like things that she can do, like grabbing a rebound and starting the fast break on her own, zipping passes to meet her cutting teammates in stride, and sprinting from sideline to sideline in Princeton’s trapping zone defense.

Alarie was last year’s Ivy Player of the Year, averaging 11.4 points and nine rebounds in 14 league games as Princeton won the Ivy regular-season and tournament championships. This season, with a younger team around her, she has played an even larger role, averaging a league-best 24.5 points and 11.7 rebounds in 14 Ivy games. That included a 45-point game at Columbia and a 41-point effort at Dartmouth — the first two 40-point nights for a Princeton woman and the highest-scoring games for any Tiger basketball player since Bill Bradley ’65.

Alarie scored 33 in a Feb. 26 win over Penn, helping Princeton pull even with the Quakers atop the league standings, and finished with 31 points in the finale against Yale March 9 as the Tigers clinched a share of the Ivy regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the league tournament.

A version of this story appears in the March 20, 2019, issue.