The Yale women’s basketball team arrived at the Palestra with confidence. But on Saturday, Princeton played like the No. 1 seed it is, stomping out the Bulldogs’ every run and ending their hopes of an NCAA Tournament berth.
The fourth-seeded Elis fell 78–57 to the Tigers in the semifinal of the Ivy League Tournament. They struggled on both ends of the floor, allowing a barrage of long-range bombs while also failing to execute with the ball in their hands. Six-foot-four guard Bella Alarie was the star of the show and one of two Tigers to record a double double, with 17 points and 17 rebounds. Forward Leslie Robinson had 13 points and 10 rebounds. For Yale, guard Roxy Barahman ’20 put up 17 points and seven assists of her own, while forward Alex Cade ’21 scored 11 off the bench.
“We didn’t execute both offensively and defensively early in the game,” head coach Allison Guth said. “Roxy picked up two quick ones. I thought our third quarter fight and adjustments showed the true character that our kids have. I give a lot of credit to Princeton. We left a little bit short, but it wasn’t lack of heart. It was attention to detail with some execution.”
The Bulldogs fell into an early hole at the end of the first quarter. Barahman struggled with early foul trouble, picking up two in two minutes during the opening quarter. Without her leadership and scoring prowess, the Elis struggled at the offensive end, forcing drives that led to difficult shots at the rim.
On the boards, Princeton outhustled Yale, dominating the rebounding battle thanks to huge contributions from Alarie, the Ivy League Player of the Year, and Robinson. Overall, the Tigers handily controlled the glass, 46–20.
“It was a little unfortunate,” Barahman said. “I got kind of mad. I sat on the bench and talked to my teammates. I tried to motivate them from the bench. I tried to be as supportive as I could off the floor. When I got back in there I just played my game.”
By the end of the first half, the Bulldogs trailed 39–23 and looked out of gas.
Yale came alive in the third frame, though, forcing turnovers and missed shots on several consecutive Princeton possessions. The team went on an 11–2 run and cut the Tigers’ lead to single digits.
But after failing to connect on a single 3-pointer in the opening period, the Tigers found the hot hand, connecting on 10 of 19 shots from downtown after the first quarter. Princeton answered every run that Yale had, breaking any momentum the Bulldogs attempted to generate by burying shots from behind the line. Guard Carlie Littlefield netted four of the Tigers’ shots from three-point land and also contributed 17 points.
Despite her limited first-quarter minutes, Barahman tied for the highest point total in the game and led all players with seven assists. Cade provided a spark off the bench for Yale and was the team’s second leading scorer, on a perfect four-of-four shooting from the field.
After her strong performance, Cade was quick to praise the graduating class, which includes forward Jen Berkowitz ’18, guard Tamara Simpson ’18 and captain and guard Mary Ann Santucci ’18.
“[The seniors] have all helped me grow personally,” Cade said. “They’ve helped me with every aspect of my life and my game. Without them I wouldn’t be where I think I progressed to be, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today. They’ve been amazing support systems and I couldn’t have asked for more anywhere else. They definitely led our team here.”
Berkowitz, a first-team All-Ivy selection, only put up four shots in the game, as Alarie’s presence and rebounding in the paint stifled many of Berkowitz’ usual offensive opportunities. Simpson had her usual, strong, defensive showing with five steals but mustered only a 3–12 shooting performance
With their 8–6 Ivy League record and fourth-place conference finish, the Bulldogs improved on last season’s sixth-place finish and came away with one of their most successful seasons under coach Guth.