The Princeton University women’s basketball team has never shied away from a challenge.
The Tigers, who earned a berth in the NCAA tournament by winning the Ivy League Tournament last weekend, are set for their latest challenge when they take on 17th-ranked Kentucky in the opening round on Saturday in Raleigh, N.C.
“The goal of every college basketball team at the start of the season and throughout, is to earn their way into the Big Dance," Princeton coach Courtney Banghart said after the Tigers learned their draw. ”It’s a coveted opportunity earned only by the best teams in the country. This group personified resilience, toughness, grit, and teamwork and as a result, they earned the opportunity to dance. We're looking forward to taking that next step as a team.”
Princeton is the No. 6 seed in the Greensboro Region of the national tournament. The Tigers head into the contest with a 22-9 record, having won 12 in a row and 21 of their 23 games. Princeton won the Ivy title by defeating Penn, 65-54, in the tournament final last Sunday.
The Ivy League Player of the Year, Bella Alarie, who scored 25 points in the victory Sunday over Penn, leads the Tigers in scoring averaging 23 points a game. Carlie Littlefield, a first team All-Ivy selection, averages 13.5 points per game and senior Gabrielle Rush averages 12.5 points a game.
Kentucky is 24-7 on the season, finishing fourth in the Southeastern Conference. The Wildcats lost to Missouri in the opening round of the SEC tournament. Freshman guard Rhyne Howard leads Kentucky in scoring at 16.3 points per game. Senior guard Maci Morris averages 14.9 points and senior guard Taylor Murray is also in double-figures at 12.5 points per game.
The winner of Saturday’s opening-round game will face the winner of the matchup between third-seeded North Carolina State, the host school, and 14th-seeded Maine. The second-round game will be played on Monday, also in Raleigh.