Maybe it was nerves. Maybe it was attitude — Princeton, in the words of head coach Courtney Banghart, approached the game with humility instead of “the swag that champions have.” Whatever the reason, when the women’s basketball team needed to play its best in a winner-take-all Ivy League finale against Penn March 11, its performance fell short.
The normally crisp Tigers looked clumsy, turning the ball over 12 times in the first half, and Penn capitalized, taking a 13-point lead. Princeton’s offense rebounded in the second half, but each time the Tigers inched closer, the Quakers replied with a basket or two. Penn won comfortably, 80–64, earning the Ivy title and the league’s NCAA Tournament bid. Princeton (20–8) settled for a trip to the Women’s NIT.
The disappointment was obvious as the Tigers left the court to applause from the largest student cheering section they’d seen this year. Even the fast-talking, relentlessly upbeat Banghart was subdued. But the coach who built Princeton into a four-time Ivy champion found a silver lining in the loss.
“This was a really great environment for women’s basketball in the Ivy League, so we celebrate that,” she said. “We want good teams in our league.” …