For the first time in nearly five years a team not named Harvard handed the Princeton women’s basketball team an Ivy League loss, as the Tigers suffered a 61-58 upset at Brown Saturday night in Providence, R.I.
Princeton (18-7, 9-2) now sits in an unfamiliar spot with two Ivy losses and no longer maintains sole possession of first place, sharing with Penn. The Tigers do still control their own destiny with three final conference games at home, including a regular season finale versus the Quakers.
Princeton put together its best attempt at control midway through the second half behind Annie Tarakchian’s individual effort. For the second straight week the sophomore provided life off the bench, setting up a Tiger 7-0 run to take their first lead since the opening minutes, 46-42, with 10:39 left in regulation. In less than 60 seconds she had five points, a pair of rebounds, a steal and forced a jump ball.
She finished with nine points, seven rebounds and a game-high four steals.
From there the score would be tied three more times, including a Kristen Helmstetter triple to make it 57-57 with 1:34 left.
Helmstetter’s play was key in Princeton staying within range throughout the 40-minute battle. In 39 minutes, she scored a team-high 20 points and grabbed a game-high eight boards.
Similar to the first half the Tigers were unable to contain the game’s momentum and make a final push, seeing Brown close things out with a 4-1 run to earn the victory.
Princeton struggled from the field, shooting 32.3 percent (20-for-62), while Brown was 22-for-42 (52.4 percent). The Tigers did force 22 turnovers, which they converted to 28 points, but Brown relied on its 10-6 three-point advantage to create cushions throughout the evening.
The Bears opened with a 4-0 run, foreshadowing a game of runs and surges. Four Helmstetter points guided a 6-0 Tiger run to give them their first lead at 16:48.
Princeton appeared to find its flow, but it abruptly ended behind a Lauren Clarke triple that changed the landscape for the remainder of the first half.
The Bears’ lead grew as high as eight, 25-17, at 7:14, before Helmstetter and Amanda Bernsten carried the Tigers on another six-point uncontested run to make it a three-point ball game.
Princeton continued to get close to seizing control, but never could parlay it into something definitive and trailed 35-27 at halftime.
Berntsen finished with nine points, three assists and three steals in 24 minutes off the bench, and Blake Dietrick added 13 points.
The Tigers will look to rebound next weekend, hosting Cornell (Mar. 7) and Columbia (Mar. 8).
Postgame Notes: The loss ended Princeton’s 14-game winning streak versus Brown … the Bears dealt Princeton only their fourth Ivy loss since 2010 … Princeton now shares first place in the Ivy League with Penn.