Princeton Tops Drexel As Another Successful Year Comes To A Close
The New Year's Eve party started on the side court shortly after Princeton had finished off its 74-59 win over Drexel in women's basketball.
The Tiger players were hosting the younger members of the crowd of 1,231 who came to Jadwin Gym on the final day of 2012 in an autograph session, and those with the pens and those with the autograph books were clearly in a festive mood.
It was hard to believe that 12 months had gone by so quickly, thinking back to one year earlier, another New Year's Eve, another Princeton win over Drexel, this one in Philadelphia on the final day of 2011.
Many of the faces in Princeton uniforms were the same from the game a year ago to the one that sent 2012 out with a 22-6 record for the Tigers during the calendar year, and nobody was more aware of how much different one year in college athletics is than the next, even if time seemed to zoom by, then Princeton coach Courtney Banghart.
As her players signed autographs, Banghart stood smiling, holding a basketball and a stat sheet and knowing that her team had just come away with a very impressive win over a Drexel team that is 7-4 on the season. She spoke about how much she likes the current edition of her team, and it was obvious that she knew that her team, which graduated two 1,000-point scorers from last year, is primed for a run at a fourth-straight Ivy League championship.
Princeton finished the 2012 portion of the 2012-13 schedule at 8-5, against a very tough group of opponents. Princeton is now 5-0 at home this season.
Part of the reason, of course, is the presence of Niveen Rasheed, who put up 22 points, eight rebounds and three assists against Drexel. Rasheed, in sixth place all-time at scoring at Princeton despite missing half her sophomore with a knee injury, now has 1,352 career points. She has also been in double figures in 11 straight games.
Beyond Rasheed, though, Banghart has a team with a strong mix of veterans and freshman, not to mention the kind of depth that allowed Princeton to play without Lauren Polansky and yet get a very similar stat line from Blake Dietrick, who had seven rebounds and five steals, as well as five points.
Kristen Helmstetter had a 13-point, five-rebound performance, and Princeton was able to overcome a 2 for 18 day from three-point range by shooting 26 for 30 at the foul line.
The game was 8-8 early before Princeton pulled away, buidling a 35-21 halftime lead, pushing it to 18 early in the second half and then getting it back to 20 before winning by 15.
Next up for Princeton is a game Jan. 8 at home against Navy, a team that defeated Princeton a year ago, and then the Ivy League opener at home against Penn Jan. 12 before a three-week break for first semester exams.