Princeton (26-2, 14-0 Ivy) vs. St. John’s (24-6, 12-4 Big East)
(Photo by Beverly Schaefer)
March 20, 12:21 p.m.
Donald L. Tucker Center, Tallahassee, Fla.
TV: ESPN2, ESPN 360 (online)
Radio: WPRB, 103.3 FM
For Princeton, 2009-10 has been a record-setting season. The Tigers have won more games (26) and scored more points (71.6 per game) than any women’s basketball team in school history. Their current 21-game winning streak is a program best. They are the first Tiger team to post a perfect 14-0 record in Ivy games, and their NCAA Tournament seed — No. 11 in the Dayton Region — is the highest in league history. Not bad for a team that was picked to finish third in the Ivy’s preseason poll of media and sports information directors.
In the NCAA first round, Princeton will face another high-scoring team that outperformed expectations this season. St. John’s flipped its 4-12 Big East record in 2008-09 to a 12-4 finish this year, tying for fourth place in the conference and posting the program’s best record in 26 years. Five of its six losses this year were against NCAA Tournament teams. (The two teams that beat Princeton, Rutgers and UCLA, also reached the tournament.)
Twenty-eight years have passed since the Tigers and Red Storm met on the hardwood. (In fact, the last meeting, in 1981-82, predates the Red Storm nickname by more than a decade.) St. John’s holds a 3-0 advantage in the all-time series. St. John’s has played in the NCAA Tournament five times, advancing to the second round twice (1988 and 2006). Princeton is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance. Ivy League teams have played 18 NCAA Tournament games, winning just once — in 1998, when Harvard, a No. 16 seed, shocked top-seeded Stanford in Palo Alto.
Strengths and weaknesses
Both Princeton and St. John’s appear in the national rankings in several team categories. The Tigers had the No. 5 defense in Division I and ranked No. 41 in scoring offense. Starters Devona Allgood ’12, Niveen Rasheed ’13, and Lauren Edwards ’12 were each among the country’s 50 best shooters, based on field-goal percentage. Even in its weakest categories, Princeton ranks among the top third of Division I teams. The Red Storm is in the top 50 for scoring offense, scoring defense, fewest turnovers, assist-to-turnover ratio, and 3-point defense. Their most prominent flaw is free-throw shooting (61.5 percent, which ranks 316th among 332 Division I schools).