Back to the Big Dance: The Princeton women’s basketball team is headed to the NCAA tournament for the fourth consecutive season. The Tigers (22-6, 13-1 Ivy) earned the No. 9 seed for the second straight year and are the first Ivy women’s team to advance to the tournament four straight years. They are scheduled to face No. 8 seed Florida State (22-9, 11-7 ACC) in the first round.
Princeton is in the Oklahoma City Regional and its opening rounds will be played at Baylor’s Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. The Tigers and Seminoles will square off on Sunday, Mar. 24 at 5:10 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and online on ESPN3.
Scouting No. 8 Seed Florida State: Florida State is ranked No. 24/25 nationally and heads to Waco riding a 22-9, 11-7 ACC record and as the No. 8 seed.
FSU is 4-5 versus nationally ranked teams and 8-5 versus teams in the NCAA tournament field. They played eight advancing teams, four multiple times.
Four Seminoles are averaging double figure scoring numbers, with Leonor Rodriguez’s 15.1 points per game leading the offense. Natasha Howard is the squad’s rebounding leader with 7.6 per game. Florida State is seventh in scoring in Division I, averaging 76.2 points per game.
All-Time vs. Florida State: This will be the first time in program history Princeton and Florida State will face each other.
A Quick Look Ahead: The other first round match up in Waco will be between No. 1 seed Baylor and No. 16 seed Prairie View A&M.
Baylor enters the tournament as the top-ranked team in the nation led by senior Brittney Griner’s 23.6 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. The Bears are 32-1, 18-0 Big 12 and are the defending national champions.
Princeton is 1-1 all-time versus Baylor, winning its first meeting, 54-50, on Dec. 4, 1993 at the Ivy Challenge in Philadelphia, Penn. The Bears won the next meeting, 86-47, on Nov. 22, 2002 at the Women’s Sports Foundation Tournament in Waco.
Three-time defending SWAC champion Prairie View A&M (17-14, 11-7 SWAC) will play the No. 1 seed for second time in three years. The Panthers are led by Latia Williams’ 13.2 points per game.
This will be the second consecutive season both Princeton and PVAM are in the same regional, as both were the No. 9 and No. 16 seeds, respectively at the first round in Bridgeport, Conn. Both sides have never met before in program history.
Last Time Out: The Tigers concluded the regular season with a 60-44 victory over Penn on Mar. 12. Princeton concluded the year as the Ivy League champions for the fourth consecutive season.
Tigers Establish New Ivy Win Streak: This season Tigers set a new Ivy League win streak record with 33 consecutive wins spanning the 2010-11 through 2012-13 seasons.
Harvard previously held the record with 32 straight wins from 1995-96 through 1997-98. Fortuitously Princeton snapped the streak with a 56-53 win on Feb. 7, 1998. The Crimson countered by snapping the Tigers’ streak on Mar. 1 in a 58-55 loss.
Under 50: The Tigers have held 12 opponents to 50 points or less this year.
Get Connected: Are you following Princeton on Facebook and Twitter? Follow the athletics department at Facebook.com/PrincetonAthletics and Twitter.com/PUTIGERS. Connect with the Tiger women’s basketball team on Facebook.com/PrincetonWBB or follow head coach Courtney Banghart on Twitter @CoachBanghart.
Four-Peat Ivy Champs!: Boasting a 54-2 Ivy record the past four years, Princeton can once again call itself the outright Ivy League champion. This is the first time an Ivy program has earned four consecutive automatic berths into the NCAA tournament. This group is the first since the 1974-78 teams to win four consecutive Ivy titles and first since double round robin.
Tiger Trailblazers: During head coach Courtney Banghart’s tenure at Princeton, the Tigers have established new Ivy League records year-in and year-out. They have earned the highest seeds in the NCAA tournament at No. 9 the last two seasons, No. 11 and No. 12, in 2011 and 2010, respectively. The squad earned the first-ever national ranking at No. 24 in the 2012 final AP Top 25 Poll and is the first team to advance to four consecutive NCAA tournaments.
One of the Ivy’s Best: The Class of 2013 is tied for the winningest class in Ivy men’s or women’s basketball history. Over their four-year run from 2009-10 to 2012-13, this year’s seniors are 54-2 in Ivy play matching only the Penn men’s basketball team’s Class of 1996 (1992-93 to 1995-96).
No. 9 Seed: Princeton earned the No. 9 seed for the second consecutive season, marking the highest seed an Ivy women’s basketball program has ever received. The previous highest seeding was the Tigers’ No. 11 seed in 2010. Princeton was a 12-seed in the 2011 tournament.
In the Ivy history, Harvard earned a 13th seed in 2002 and Dartmouth did in 2000 with head coach Courtney Banghart as a player. The duo have earned five 16s, three 15s and six 14s. The only Ivy League team to win an NCAA tournament game was Harvard in 1998, when as a No. 16 seed upset No. 1 Stanford. Coincidently, current Tiger assistant coach Milena Flores was a member of that losing Stanford team.
Rasheed & Polansky Take Top Ivy Postseason Honors, Four Tigers Recognized: Niveen Rasheed was voted the unanimous Ivy Player of the Year. Lauren Polansky was named Defensive Player of the Year for the third straight season and Megan Bowen and Kristen Helmstetter earned second-team All-Ivy accolades.
The 2012-13 season marked the third straight year a Princeton player has been selected Ivy Player of the Year, a program first. Rasheed is only the second Tiger to receive the award, as Addie Micir ‘11 earned it first in 2011, and Princeton is the first team to earn three consecutive Player of the Year awards since Penn from 1999-2001. Rasheed was also the unanimous 2010 Ivy Rookie of the Year, making her only the second player in Ivy history to earn three postseason awards unanimously.
Polansky is only the second recipient of the Ivy Defensive Player of the Year award over its five-year history.
No Common Opponents: Princeton has not played any common opponents with first round matchup Florida State or potential second round opponents Baylor and/or Prairie View.
Rasheed’s National Spotlight: Niveen Rasheed has garnered not only the respect of the Ivy League also the national women’s basketball community. This season she was selected to four prestigious watch lists: the Wooden Award Women’s Preseason Top 30, 50-player Naismith Watch List, 33-player State Farm “Wade Watch” list and the 20-player Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Midseason Watch List. The guard was also named a WBCA’s All-Region Nominee for the WBCA’s Coaches’ All-America Team.
She is the only Ivy League representative on any of the national award watch lists.
Top-30 RPI: The Tigers are tabbed No. 27 in the latest RPI poll, having defeated five Top 100 teams. Princeton has faced 10 Top 100 teams, including four ranked in the Top 30. The Tigers are 5-6 versus Top 100 RPI opponents.
Versus the Tournament Field: The Tigers faced seven teams in 2012-13 that earned berths to the NCAA tournament. Princeton went 2-5 versus NCAA -bound opponents.
Commanding the Conference: Princeton owns a +27.3 margin of victory over Ivy opponents in 2013. Over the past four years, the Tigers have defeated conference foes by a +25.4 margin.
Princeton is 59-2 in league play since Feb. 27, 2008.
The National Scene: Princeton is ranked in the Top 100 in 15 different national statistical categories, including Top 50 rankings in:
• scoring offense (19th)
• scoring defense (23rd)
• scoring margin (6th)
• field goal percentage (27th)
• field goal percentage defense (10th)
• rebound margin (6th)
• three-point field goal percentage (44th)
• won-lost percentage (27th)
• assists/game (12th)
• assist turnover ratio (11th)
Individually, Niveen Rasheed is ranked No. 72 in points, No. 80 in rebounds and No. 52 in steals per game, and No. 87 in field goal percentage.
Almost +20: In addition to their dominance in the Ivy League, the Tigers have put together sound victories all year. Princeton owns a +19.4 regular season margin of victory and has scored 70 or more points 16 times this season.
22-Wins or More: Princeton has won 22 or more games the past four years.
Ranked Opponents: Princeton’s meeting between then-No. 19/22 UCLA on Nov. 25 marked the squad’s first game versus a ranked team this year. The Tigers have also faced three teams who were receiving votes towards a national ranking in Rutgers, Delaware and DePaul.
The Tigers are 0-1 versus ranked teams and 1-2 versus receiving votes programs. Overall, Princeton’s three losses were by an average of 8.3 points.
College Insider Mid-Major Top-25: The Tigers remain tabbed No. 5 with 565 points in the Mar. 12 CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top-25 Poll.
A Look at the Losses: All six Tiger losses were suffered on the road, with five at the hands of top-50 RPI opponents. Four defeats were to current or formerly nationally ranked programs.
Four losses were without starting shooting guard Nicole Hung, while three-time Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year Lauren Polansky missed two games and was limited in multiple games midyear.
Program Points Record: Princeton’s 99-point performance at Yale on Feb. 10 eclipsed a 27-year-old program single-game points record. The Tigers’ topped their 97-point record from Jan. 14, 1986 versus Long Island.
Opponent Low: Princeton held Illinois State to only 23.4 percent (15-for-64) from the field, for a season-best mark in its 67-50 victory on Dec. 19.
Dishin’ it Up: The Tigers dished 10 or more assists in 25 games and in 16 games they made 15-plus assists. Princeton made 471 assists on the year, averaging 16.8 per game. The squad made a season-high 28 dishes versus Penn on Jan. 12.
Don’t Think So: Princeton made 280 steals on the year, tallying 10 or more in 15 games. The Tigers made a season-high 18 steals versus Rider on Nov. 20.
We’ll Take That: Behind 106 blocks, the Tigers had a block in all 28 games this season. Princeton tallied 11 games with five blocks or more and averaged 3.8 per game. The Tigers had a season-high eight blocks at Illinois State on Dec. 19.
March Math: Princeton is 57-44 all-time in the month of March. This season the Tigers are 4-1 and over the last four years they are 13-4, seeing three of those four losses in the NCAA tournament.
Double Figure Scoring: Princeton has had more than one player score in double figures in 24 games.
• Three in double figures - 11 times
• Four in double figures - five times
• Five in double figures - two times
Assists 4 Africa: The Princeton women’s basketball team will be hosting Assists 4 Africa events at Jadwin Gym as part of the Princeton Varsity Club Service Circle. Its efforts will raise money for Vivre Ensemble Madeshael, the orphanage in Senegal the team visited in 2011, working with Progress 4 Africa (501(c)3) charity.
To pledge a one-time donation search for “Assists4Africa” on www.crowdrise.com or pledge an amount based on the number of assists the team makes throughout the season. Please direct all questions to PrincetonAssists4Africa@gmail.com.
Banghart Reaches Career Milestone: Sixth season head coach Courtney Banghart won her 100th career game at the helm of the Princeton women’s basketball program in the Tigers’ 93-46 win over UMBC. Banghart is now 117-65 all-time and 78-17 in Ivy play. Assistant coach Milena Flores has been on Banghart’s coaching staff throughout that span, as well.
Ivy Preseason Poll Predicts Right: Behind 132 votes and 13 first-place nods, Princeton was predicted to win the Ivy League title for the fourth consecutive season in the Ivy preseason media poll. Harvard was the only other team to collect first-place votes, earning 120 points and three first-place votes.
The Tigers did win the Ivy League title and their only loss was to second-place Harvard.
Ivy First: The Tigers made history a year ago by becoming the only Ivy League women’s basketball program to earn a national ranking. Princeton was No. 24 in the final AP Poll of 2011-12.
Welcome Back: The Tigers welcome back 10 letterwinners from a year ago, including unanimous Ivy Player of the Year Niveen Rasheed and two-time Ivy Defensive Player of the Year Lauren Polansky. Princeton will be led by a sturdy group of four seniors, looking to conclude their careers on top of the League for a fourth straight season.
The Newbies: Five freshmen join the Tigers in 2012-13. Princeton bolsters its lineup with a versatile group, each looking to become immediate contributors. The Tiger newcomers are: point guard Amanda Berntsen, guard Michelle Miller, guard/forward Annie Tarakchian, forward Alex Wheatley and forward/center Taylor Williams.
Preseason Honors: The Tigers have already picked up several preseason honors entering 2012-13. College Sports Madness tabbed head coach Courtney Banghart as the Preseason All-Mid Major and Ivy League Coach of the Year. Senior Niveen Rasheed was named the Preseason Ivy League Player of the Year and to the Preseason All-Mid Major and All-Ivy First Team.
Ivy Domination: This year’s senior class has only seen two Ivy League losses throughout their careers, going 54-2. They have won the last four consecutive conference championships and were members of the first group to advance to the NCAA Tournament in Princeton history.
My Captain, Oh My Captain: Princeton’s co-captains in 2012-13 are reigning Ivy Player of the Year Niveen Rasheed and two-time Defensive Player of the Year Lauren Polansky.
New Faces, New Roles: In addition to five new players on the court, the Princeton coaching staff saw some new additions. After two years at the team’s director of basketball operations Megan Griffith has been promoted to assistant coach. Griffith replaces Melanie Moore, who helped Michigan advance to the NCAA tournament.
Tyler Cordell was hired during the summer as the program’s new director of basketball operations. Cordell comes from Ithaca where she was a graduate assistant with the Division III women’s basketball team.
Status Update: Junior Nicole Hung suffered a season-ending knee injury on Nov. 25 at UCLA. Jess Shivers will miss the entire season due to being medically ineligible.