Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 7
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
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POINT AND CLICK: Princeton University women’s basketball star Lauren Polansky dribbles up the court last Friday in Princeton’s 57-35 win over visiting Columbia. Sophomore point guard Polansky had five points, six steals, two assists, and two rebounds in the victory. A night later, she helped Princeton pull away from Cornell 65-43 as the Tigers improved to 17-4 overall and 6-1 in Ivy League play. Princeton, now in first place in the Ivy standings, hosts Yale (10-12 overall, 6-2 Ivy) on February 18 and Brown (7-15 overall, 3-5 Ivy) the next night.

With Point Guard Polansky Providing Intangibles, PU Women’s Hoops Wins 2, Climbs Into Ivy League

Bill Alden

Lauren Polansky didn’t light up the scoreboard last weekend for the Princeton University women’s basketball team.

The sophomore point guard scored a total of 10 points in 58 minutes of action as the Tigers hosted Columbia on Friday and Cornell the next evening.

But showing her versatility and athleticism, Polansky contributed in other ways as Princeton topped Columbia 57-35 and then pulled away from Cornell 65-43.

In the win over the Lions on Friday, Polansky had six steals, two assists, and two rebounds. Against the Big Red, the 5’8 native of Mill Valley, Calif. had six rebounds, four assists, and a steal.

The wins improved Princeton to 17-4 overall and 6-1 in Ivy League play. With Harvard losing twice over the weekend, the Tigers passed the Crimson to jump into first place in the Ivy standings. Currently, Princeton holds a slim lead in the title race with Yale at 6-2 in league play and Harvard falling to 5-2.

For Polansky, not scoring a lot of points is no big deal as the defending Ivy champion Princeton has plenty of offensive options.

“We have so many shooters on this team that I don’t necessarily have to fill that role,” said Polansky.

“The way that I see myself is to get all those loose balls; get those steals, lock up their point guard and get the team going.”

Polansky acknowledged that it took a while for the Tigers to get going each night last weekend as Princeton led Columbia 20-11 at half and was clinging to a 23-21 lead over Cornell at intermission.

“That is definitely something we have been trying to work on; we have been stressing it in all of our pregame talks,” said Polansky, referring to the team’s recent penchant for sluggish starts. “We say to come out fighting. It starts with our defense; that’s what gets us going.”

The Tigers, though, have also shown an ability to finish strong. “In our home gym, we were going to turn it around and make shots by the end,” said Polansky, reflecting on the Cornell game which saw the Tigers shoot 37 percent in the first half (10-of-27) and then improve to 59 percent in the second half (16-of-27). “We were getting good looks but not necessarily capitalizing on them.”

Polansky and her teammates knew they had to capitalize on being at home in order to stay in title contention.

“Winning on our home court is definitely critical for the Ivy League,” said Polansky. “Those longer trips are tough; anything can happen. It is a crazy league; any team can beat any other team on a given night.”

Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart saw some good signs in the first half Saturday even though her club was clinging to a slim two-point lead.

“This was such a step forward from last night,” said Banghart, who got a career-high 22 points from Devona Allgood in the win over Cornell with Addie Micir adding 14 and Lauren Edwards chipping in 13.

“I thought we got great looks but we just missed some shots that we usually make. Last night, we didn’t generate many looks early.”

In the second half, the Tigers went into a higher gear as they pulled away from the Big Red.

“I thought we had good push, we had 17 early offensive points out of our 43 in the half,” said Banghart. “We wanted to get the ball to the high post area against their zone; we wanted better crash effort going towards the rim.”

The effort from 6’3 junior star Allgood certainly made a difference for the Tigers.

“We knew we had advantage in the post,” added Banghart. “Against the zone, you can fall in love with the perimeter shot. We really hammered it in that we wanted the ball inside. I thought Devona was great. She was 8 for 9 from the field. In 26 minutes, she had 22 points, what more can you ask for.”

Banghart is asking Polansky to get the Princeton offense in gear. “We need her to start the offense a little bit sooner; we asked her to give us a little better push,” said Banghart

“She is so coachable; she wants to do whatever the team needs and on the way you know you are going to get a lot of intangibles. I think as she goes, we go. So we are going to keep working with her to get her going at the pace we want her at.”

If Princeton is going to keep setting the pace in the league, Banghart knows her club has to take care of business at home.

“It is the first thing I said when we went in, you have to win at home and we just got two,” said Banghart, whose team will continue its home stand when it hosts Yale on February 18 and Brown a night later.

“Any game in this league is tough; we know each other so well and it is back-to-back. It is just not easy. We have to hold at home, we did and now we are in first place. The Ivy race continues for us on Friday against Yale at home.”

Polansky, for her part, recognizes that being in first place in the middle of the race doesn’t guarantee anything.

“It was a tough loss against Harvard (73-67 on February 4) and we knew we had to win every game going out of that and that is still our main objective,” said Polansky.

“Being back in first is great but it doesn’t really change anything for us. We still need to go out and play every game as hard as we can no matter who it is against.”

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