The long hours, tiring practices and most of all battles on the court were undoubtedly worth it as the Princeton women's basketball team can once again call itself Ivy League champion. Saturday's 80-51 win over Brown brought home the fourth consecutive outright Ivy title, procuring the squad's ticket to the NCAA tournament.
The road to four straight Ivy championships began with the Class of 2013. The winningest class in Ivy women's basketball history, the quartet is an unprecedented 53-2 all-time in league play. They are taking this team to its fourth consecutive Big Dance, something that had never happened before they stepped onto campus.
The four seniors each shone on their night, Senior Night. Niveen Rasheed (14), Kate Miller (12) and Megan Bowen (11) each were in double figures, while Lauren Polansky tallied six rebounds.
The catalyst to the program's unparalleled success, the group closed out their Jadwin Gym playing days on a high note. They have won the last 20 consecutive home contests, as an aside.
A flat start by the Tigers provided Brown the initial advantage and the Bears went on to hold as high as an eight-point lead. It took an Alex Wheatley layin to lift Princeton to a 16-15 advantage at 9:43 and from there both sides battled for control through halftime.
Unable to seize a comfortable lead before the break, it was a Kristen Helmstetter second half basket at 14:21 that proved to be the turning point. She put the Tigers up by 10, 44-34, and Brown was unable to get closer than seven for the rest of the night.
Along with the trio of seniors in double digits, Helmstetter had 11 points and off the bench Michelle Miller tallied 12, including three triples.
Princeton (21-6, 12-1 Ivy) has one final regular season test, heading to Penn for a Tuesday, Mar. 12 meeting at 5 p.m.
And then the Tigers will wait for the NCAA Selection Show to find out their tournament fate.