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Princeton women’s basketball caps ‘resiliency and grit’ season

Princeton defeated Harvard to become a four-time Ivy League champion and secure a 10th NCAA Tournament appearance during the 2022-23 season. Photos courtesy of Maddy Pryor, Princeton University Office of Communications

Princeton women’s basketball 2022-23 season may have come to an end in the second round of the NCAA tournament against Utah, but the loss does not define their season.

The second-round loss to the No. 2 seed Utes, 63-56, on March 19 capped a season for the No. 10 seeded Tigers [24-6, 12-2 Ivy League] that resulted in consecutive Ivy League Championships and trips to the NCAA’s Round of 32.

“We came up short of our goal, but I think we battled from minute one to minute 40. I could not be prouder in my team and how hard we played,” Princeton Head Coach Carla Berube said. “This game does not define our season.”

Berube added that she is so happy that she gets to coach her team every single day.

In the game against Utah at the John Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Princeton’s defense held the high scoring offense of the Utes to a total of 63 points for the game.

At the end of first quarter Princeton trailed by eight points with Utah leading, 20-12. Utah’s lead would extend in the second quarter to 13 points, before Princeton cut the lead to 6 points after a 3-pointer from Senior guard Grace Stone and Junior guard Kaitlyn Chen resulting in a, 32-26, lead for Utah going into halftime.

Following the half, during the third quarter, Utah led the Tigers by nine points towards with 2:39 left in the quarter and the score at 44-35. Princeton continued to battle the Utes as Senior guard Julia Cunningham hit a two-point jumper followed by a two-point jumper from Chen to cut Utah’s lead to two points with 1:10 left in the third quarter.

After two made free-throws from Utah’s Kennady McQueen, the quarter ended with Utah leading 46-42 at the end of the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Utah extended the lead to six points, 50-44, before the Tigers once again cut the lead to two points, 50-48, with seven minutes left to go in the game.

This was how close the Tigers would get. Utah won the game, 63-56, to move onto the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

“Some shots just did not fall for us,” Berube said. “We fouled a little too much and Utah is a very good team, very talented and hard to guard, really great at every position. We had our work cut out for us, but I think we were right there.”

Princeton’s Chen led the Tigers with 19 points and Stone followed with 16 points.

This season the Tigers started off conference play 0-2 with losses against Harvard and Columbia. The team went on to win the rest of the team’s Ivy League regular season schedule that also extended into the Ivy League Tournament, where Princeton earned the Ivy League Championship title.

Stone said the team’s “resiliency and grit” played a role keeping the team in games during the 2022-23 season.

“I think you have to a have (resiliency and grit) a little bit and you have to learn it at this level. I think our team buys into that and [it’s] something we always preached,” she said. “That toughness wins basketball games and I think this team is really good because we do the dirty work and do the work nobody else wants to do.”

The Tigers lose five seniors from the 2022-23 team. Guards, Grace Stone, Julia Cunningham, Maggie Connolly, guard/forward Lexi Weger, and forward Kira Emsbo are those five seniors.

“We had an awesome ride and our five seniors have just been incredible. They have been our nucleus, our glue, our everything,” Berube said. “Grace [Stone] is one of them and left this program in a really great place. They were sophomores when I got to Princeton and have just been amazing for me and my staff.”

She added, “We will miss them so much.”

Princeton women’s basketball Ivy League Championship win this season allowed Princeton – for the second time in school history – to have both its mens and womens basketball teams punch a ticket to the NCAA Tournament in the same season.

Princeton also became the first school in Ivy Madness postseason tournament history to have both men’s and women’s teams earn championship titles in the same season since the tournament was first established in 2017.

In another first – with a first-round win against seventh-seeded North Carolina State, Princeton also became the first Ivy league school to win a men’s and women’s NCAA tournament game in the same year.

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