Undefeated women’s basketball earns a place in both national polls

Blake Dietrick ’15
Blake Dietrick ’15
Beverly Schaefer

Princeton women’s basketball was beaten soundly by Penn in last year’s Ivy League finale, a loss that broke the Tigers’ four-year streak of Ivy championships and NCAA Tournament appearances. The undefeated Tigers did not forget it when they took the court against the Quakers at Jadwin Gymnasium Jan. 10, routing the visitors 83–54 and extending their national-best winning streak to 17 games.

Senior guard Blake Dietrick said the showdown with Penn was “definitely a revenge game” — and a satisfying one. An in-sync Tiger offense piled up points with ease as the defense kept Penn off balance throughout. Dietrick scored 25 points, including the 1,000th of her career, and forward Annie Tarakchian ’16 set a personal record with 17 rebounds.

Dietrick is in her second year as the cornerstone of Princeton’s attack, which averaged more than 77 points per game in the first half of the season. Fellow guard Michelle Miller ’16 also has been a nightmare for defenders, sinking 49.3 percent of her three-point attempts. Princeton’s success has included improvement on defense: The Tigers are allowing 52.4 points per game, nearly 12 points fewer than last season.

In early January, Princeton became the first Ivy team in history to be ranked in the top 25 of the AP and USA Today polls at the same time. Entering the two-week break for exams, the Tigers were 19th and 24th in those polls, respectively.

Dietrick said the increased attention has made this season feel different. “We’re kind of riding the momentum of it, and I think it’s all been positive for us,” she said.

On their way to the national rankings, Princeton defeated Pittsburgh and Michigan, both of which have since beaten top-25 teams. Head coach Courtney Banghart won her 150th career game Dec. 19 when her team scored a school-record 104 points in a victory over Portland State.

“I think that we played a very good variety of teams, whether it was really good three-point shooting teams, really good post teams, [or] really good dual-penetration teams,” Dietrick said. “Whatever the Ivy League will throw at us, I think we’ll be prepared.”

The Tigers entered the exam break with 13 games remaining, including a late-January road trip to Harvard and Dartmouth and a March 10 rematch with Penn at the Palestra.