PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) After cruising to another victory, the Princeton women’s basketball team had a special postgame guest – Bill Bradley.
The former Princeton great, who led the Tigers men’s team to its only Final Four appearance 50 years ago, addressed the women for 10 minutes after the 70-31 rout of Dartmouth on Friday night.
”It was really cool to hear him talk to us,” said Tigers star Annie Tarkchian, who had 11 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists in the win. ”He’s got a statue out front and his banner hangs above the court, he’s a legend here.”
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Bradley told the No. 16 Tigers that he loved the way they played and how unselfish they were.
”It’s crazy to have someone of Bill Bradley’s stature who wants to see this team play,” said Princeton coach Courtney Banghart. ”He told them that he really liked this team because it’s a team.”
It’s hard not to appreciate what the Tigers have done so far. They are the only unbeaten team left in women’s Division I basketball, winning by 25 points a game. They have multiple players who can score and play tenacious defense.
”If you told us that we’d be unbeaten and No. 16 in the country when the season started I’d have said you’re crazy,” leading scorer Blake Dietrick said. ”It was never our goal coming into the year, but now, yeah it’s pretty cool. To watch SportsCenter and hear coach (John) Calipari mention us, that’s awesome.”
Kentucky is the only undefeated team left in men’s basketball.
Princeton (24-0, 8-0 Ivy) held Dartmouth without a basket for nearly the first 11:30 of the second half. This came after the Tigers’ lone scare so far this season in league play – a six-point win over Yale.
”We really weren’t happy with our defense last week,” Banghart said. ”We spent all this week focusing on our defensive effort and it showed.”
Alex Wheatley scored 20 points and Michelle Miller added 12 to lead Princeton. The Tigers trailed 5-2 early before going on a 13-2 run fueled by Wheatley to take control. She had six points during the burst.
A free throw by Lakin Roland cut it to 15-8 with 13:24 left. The Big Green only had one basket over the next 13-plus minutes as Princeton took command.
Olivia Smith’s layup with 6 seconds left ended a 1 for 18 shooting slump for the Big Green (11-12, 2-7).
They trailed 30-12 at the half.
Dartmouth’s offensive woes continued in the second half. Princeton scored the first 12 points after the break, including six by Wheatley. The Big Green didn’t get their first basket of the second half until Andi Norman hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 8:39 left. That just made it 58-19.
The Big Green had missed their first 12 shots.
That 3-pointer got Norman going as she hit two more after that, providing the only real offense for Dartmouth. She finished with nine points. Roland also had nine points for Dartmouth.
Dartmouth: The Big Green have dropped seven of their last eight games. … Dartmouth last beat Princeton in 2009. … The Big Green shot just 19 percent from the field (10 for 53) in the game.
Princeton: The Tigers rebounded from their closest game of the season – a six-point win over Yale. They have won by an average of 25 points a game. … Banghart, who starred at Dartmouth in college, is now one victory short of tying the Princeton record for career wins (163) set by Joan Kowalik.