Guru's College Report: Princeton Beats American to Stay Perfect
WASHINGTON -- Princeton was well connected on the court and off the court Sunday night to stay unbeaten with a 63-56 win over host American University in a non-conference game in the Eagles’ Bender Arena.
It was as much a tough loss for American (0-3), which has been competitive but winless against three prominent opponents, in light of denying the Tigers (4-0) a field goal over the final 10 minutes, 43 seconds.
While Princeton couldn’t connect from the field, the Tigers still found ways to get to the free throw line and make nine foul shots and also grab offensive rebounds when they missed those attempts, which cut off any chances of American to rally to a triumph.
“We’re beating good conferences, this was a really good team – balanced, tough, on the road,” Tigers coach Courtney Banghart said of American.
“Our kids battled. They were tremendous defensively and they found a way. It wasn’t our best performance, offensively, but we found a way.”
As for Princeton being well connected off the court, after the Guru realized the secret service guy in the parking garage’s elevator wasn’t there for his arrival, it was apparent something presidential was in the air.
While Delaware has hit it big at the vice presidential level in recent years because of the alumni and former state U.S. Senator connections with Joe Biden, Princeton has friends in the White House, where the Tigers took a tour after arriving in the nation’s capital on Saturday.
It all stems from freshman Leslie Robinson, who is in position to call the current residents at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue downtown either aunt, uncle, or in the case of Barack and Michelle Obama’s two daughters – cousin.
Although the president didn’t make it here as originally intended, though the preliminary plans were not made public, the first lady, who is a Class of 1985 Princeton alumna, appeared and gave a halftime talk in the Tigers’ locker room after they took a 36-26 lead across the first 20 minutes.
She is the younger sister of Leslie’s father Craig Robinson, the former Oregon State men’s coach who is now an ESPN analyst after being let go last season.
He is one of only two players out of Princeton to be a two-time Ivy player of the year.
“We wanted Michelle to come and say hi to the kids,” Banghart said. “So she spoke to the kids, which was very cool.”
If the Republicans want equal time with the Ivy power, they can always have New Jersey governor Chris Christie invite the Tigers over for Sunday bunch, considering he lives in a mansion in the neighborhood of Jadwin Gym, where Princeton produced four straight Ivy crowns until Penn broke up the monopoly in Jadwin on the final day of the Ivy schedule last March.
The younger Robinson had five rebounds in 11 minutes.
At one point during last season, her father was being speculated for the then-vacant Princeton athletic director’s position.
Meanwhile, back at the business at hand in Bender, Blake Dietrick scored 19 points and scored seven rebounds for Princeton, while Annie Tarakchian had 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Alecx Wheatley, a past Philly summer league performer out of Council Rock South in lower Bucks County, scored seven points.
American, which has previous narrow losses to George Washington and James Madison, got 13 points from Jen Dumiak, 12 from Arron Zimmerman, and 10 from Ari Booth,while former Noth Penn star and Philly League performer Lauren Crisler came off the bench to score five points and grab two rebounds in 16 minutes of playing time.
Late in the second half, American of the Patriot League began to narrow the score but couldn’t get below a deficit of five points in the last minute because every team Princeton went to the free throw line when the Tigers missed a shot they got a rebound and went back to get the score.
Unlike a year ago when former Ivy player of the year Niveen Rasheed and several top players had graduated, this time Banghart has some familiar faces of experience to work with at the outset.
The crowd of 1, 628 was believed to be American’s largest ever, though that couldn’t be officially verified at the moment but longtime Eagles observers said it definitely was the best in about five seasons.
It is not known if the appearance was connected with the presidential celebrities since there was no advance buildup though some suspected that perhaps knowledgeable people leaked the word through social media platforms.
“I thought we competed for 40 minutes, we played hard,” said second-year coach Megan Gebbia, a former assistant with MAAC power Marist who was a strong candidate for the Maggie Dixon Award last season that goes to the top Division I newcomer in charge at the sidelines as awarded by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.
“I think what it comes down to is us doing the little things, which is the rebounding, boxing out on free throws, making free throws and just making good decisions down the stretch,” Gebbia added.
“It’s frustrating for this group because they’re talented to be able to play with these better teams, bigger programs, but not being able to finish out. We need to figure out so we can do a better job.
“It is they need to settle down when they can’t hear (because of the large crowd) because they’re used to being able to hear everything.”
Alabama Overcomes Temple -- The Owls were the only other of the Guru’s 10-team PhilahoopsW group to play Sunday and they fell to the Crimson Tide 58-51 in the final of the initial part of the Hall of Fame Challenge in Kansas’ historic Allen Fieldhouse.
Temple (2-3) had to play three straight games over the weekend, winning big over Georgetown Friday night but then losing likewise to host Kansas Saturday and then falling to Alabama, which won all three of its games.
The Tide are now 4-2 which for the moment looks good enough to be making progress after finally yielding to public pressure in the offseason and allowing former player Daisha Simmons to play immediately at Seton Hall following her transfer out of Alabama.
After being tied 27-27 at the half, the Tide launched a 10-2 run and never trailed again though the Owls got to within five with 4:25 left to play before being denied from rallying any further.
Temple’s Tyonna Williams scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds and dealt five assists while swiping three steals, and freshman Alliya Butts had 10 points and grabbed four steals. Erica Coville grabbed 11 rebounds to go with her nine points.
Alabama’s Ashley Williams had 20 points and 11 rebounds while Hannah Cook scored 13.
The four teams who played in Kansas will be joined by four others who are playing their part of the tournament at Notre Dame, including the third-ranked Irish, to come together this Sunday in Uncasville, Connecticut, at the Mohegan Sun, home of the WNBA Connecticut Sun and American Athletic Conference tournament, of which Temple is a participant.
The Owls will play Harvard at 5 p.m.
No one from the PhilahoopsW plays Monday but on Tuesday, Penn State hosts St. Bonaventure at 5:30 p.m., part of a double header with the Nittany Lion men; La Salle hosts Manhattan at noon in a traditional kids day game; Penn hosts New Hampshire in The Palestra at 7 p.m., the same time Drexel will be hosting Saint Joseph’s up the street at the Daskalakis Athletic Center; Delaware will host Fordham at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark at 7 p.m.; and No. 22 Rutgers will visit Wagner at 7 p.m. on nearby Staten Island, New York.
Princeton next plays Wake Forest on Thanksgiving Day in the opener of the Cancun Challenge followed in succession by games against Montana and Charlotte.
The Guru will mention the other games on the PhilahoopsW slate following Tuesday’s heavy slate of action.
Only one major thing to mention immediately is the anticipation of the next Associated Press women’s poll being released in late morning or early afternoon in the wake of current No. 1 Connecticut losing at No. 6 Stanford in overtime a week ago before Stanford then lost to No. 10 Texas in overtime at home.
So the question is wether the Huskies hold on at the top in a mixed vote, or No. 2 South Carolina, coached by Dawn Staley, makes the one-step move to the top for the first time ever; or No. 3 Notre Dame leaps over both by evaluation of all the teams; or Texas gets credit for its win and makes an unprecedented move all the way from No. 10 to the top, though at the very least look for the Longhorns to make some significant jump.
The Guru will have all the AP notes from the new poll in the next post to appear Tuesday morning.
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