Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 11
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
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NET GAIN: Princeton University women’s basketball senior co-captain Cheryl Stevens cuts down the net in the post-game celebration last week after the Tigers topped Penn 68-51 to finish the regular season at 26-2 overall and 14-0 in Ivy League play. This Saturday, Princeton will make the program’s first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament as the 11th-seeded Tigers face No. 6 St. Johns in Tallahassee, Fla. in the opening round of the Dayton Regional.

Senior Captain Stevens Reaches New Heights In Helping PU Women’s Hoops to Ivy Crown

Bill Alden

Cheryl Stevens climbed up Mt. Kilimanjaro last summer in training for her senior season with the Princeton University women’s basketball team.

This winter, the 6’2 senior from Canyon County, Calif. helped Princeton reach new heights as the Tigers went 26-2 overall and 14-0 in Ivy League play and earned their first-ever bid to the NCAA tournament.

The win total is not only a program record, it is the most games ever won by an Ivy women’s team in a single season.

The Tigers have been seeded 11th in the Dayton regional of the tourney and will face No. 6 St. John’s next Saturday in Tallahassee, Fla. with hopes of extending their magical season deep into March.

While Stevens had a feeling that the Tigers were going to be good this season, even she has been taken aback by the level the team has attained.

“We knew we were going to be a talented team at the beginning of the year,” said Stevens, speaking after Princeton cruised past Penn 68-51 last week in the regular season finale as the Tigers extended their winning streak to 21 and completed an Ivy campaign which saw them post double-digit wins in every league contest.

“Everyone came back from the summer in the best shape I have seen since I have been here. It showed that everybody’s head was in the right place and that everyone was dedicated to what we were trying to do. I think people don’t look at the Ivy League as a serious league. I think we proved this year that we can be and we surpassed all expectations.”

In Steven’s view, the team’s 12-2 record in non-league play provided a glimpse of what was to come.

“After the pre-league games, I was thinking wow, this is a special team, we have the opportunity to do something huge,” recalled Stevens.

The affable Stevens enjoyed the opportunity to be the captain of the Tigers along with classmate Tani Brown.

“It’s absolutely been my pleasure to be the captain of this team,” asserted Stevens.

“The funny thing about it is that the young ones have taught me as much as I have taught them. I had many people ahead of me to look up to and learn from. Toughness and team morale were the things I emphasized and I thought I could help the team out with. I just hope I did the best I could to lead this team because these girls deserve the best.”

Stevens’ tight bond with co-captain Brown helped her lead the team. “Tani and I have been best friends from day one; she is just somebody I clicked with,” said Stevens.

“Our class started out with six and we are the final two standing so we have nobody else but each other. We have been through the highs and lows together and that has just strengthened our bond. To be standing here together as league champs together is unbelievable.”

The experience of going through the ups and downs during her college career has made Stevens a stronger person.

“I think if you ask any of my coaches, I am a whole other person now,” said Stevens, a reserve who has averaged 1.1 points and 2.4 rebounds a game this winter.

“It’s changed me for the better. A lot of players come in here having never sat on the bench in their lives. I have never gotten a lot of minutes on the court here. It humbles you and it teaches you a lot about yourself and others. It’s been great.”

Stevens is confident the Tigers can do some great things in the NCAA tourney.

“Crazy things happen in March Madness, you never know,” said a grinning Stevens.

“We are extremely excited to get into the tournament and see what we can do. I think we have pretty clearly defined who we are and what we do as a team throughout this entire season. As long as we stick to that, I think there is absolutely the chance that some really big things could happen.”

No matter what happens over the rest of March, Stevens has reached new heights during her Princeton career.

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