Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 12
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
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PRESSURE TREATED: Princeton University women’s basketball player Addie Micir struggles to get past a Georgetown player last Sunday in the NCAA opening round contest between the teams. Unable to handle the pressure defense of the fifth-seeded Hoyas, No. 12 Princeton lost 65-49. Senior guard Micir scored a team-high 13 points in her final appearance for the Tigers.

PU Women’s Hoops Can’t Handle the Pressure In Falling to Georgetown at NCAA Tournament

Bill Alden

Over the last 20 minutes of its NCAA tournament opening round clash against fifth-seeded Georgetown last Sunday, the No. 12 Princeton University women’s basketball team outscored the Hoyas 35-31, shooting 45.5 percent from the field and making just four turnovers.

Unfortunately, the outcome of the contest at the Comcast Center in College Park, Md. was a foregone conclusion by that point as Georgetown suffocated Princeton with its press in the first half, jumping out to a 34-14 lead at intermission and cruising to a 65-49 victory.

A red-eyed Princeton senior guard and co-captain Addie Micir acknowledged that the Georgetown pressure broke Princeton’s will in the first half.

“We knew they were going to come out and be all over the place,” said Micir, reflecting on a nightmarish first half which saw Princeton shoot 28.6 percent from the field (6-of-21) and commit 14 turnovers as it struggled to get the ball past halfcourt.

“They were a good team from the Big East with a bunch of quick and athletic guards, and we worked on it all week and prepared for it. We kind of folded a little bit in the first half.”

Micir liked how Princeton worked in the second half. “At halftime, I think we made a really good adjustment and we came out and tried to show what Princeton basketball is all about,” said Micir, the Ivy League Player of the Year who finished with a team-high 13 points in the defeat which left Princeton with a final record of 24-5. “You have got to be proud of us for that but it just didn’t go our way.”

Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart admitted that her club looked like it had a long way to go before it could achieve its goal of becoming the second Ivy women’s team to win in a game in the NCAA tourney as only Harvard has posted a win with its triumph over Stanford in the opening round of the 1998 tourney.

“To say I am disappointed would be a gross understatement,” said a grim-faced Banghart, who got nine points and five rebounds from Meg Bowen off the bench with Devona Allgood chipping in eight points and five rebounds and reserve Kristen Helmstetter adding six points.

“That was not the version of Princeton basketball I have seen all year. Give all the credit to Georgetown (23-10), they got us completely unraveled and we just did not look prepared. I thought we backed down a little bit; we don’t see that kind of pressure very often but we had time to recover from it. Our league is better than that; the Ivy League is special for many reasons and our job was to represent them well. As always, we did represent the league with class, but I think we will fight hard to get back here and have a little more success.”

Banghart did like the fight she saw from her players over the last 20 minutes of the contest.

“We started attacking and we also went to the free throw line,” said Banghart, noting that her team had 16 free throws in the second half as opposed to just four in the first 20 minutes.

“We didn’t turn the ball over, we had just four turnovers. We started to attack where we knew the middle was a soft spot. I challenged them basically and said ‘We’re more than that, know who you represent.’ Once their backs were to the wall, they fought; I just don’t know why we got so shellshocked in the first half.”

The loss was particularly disappointing since it was essentially a carbon copy of last year’s NCAA setback where 11th-seeded Princeton fell behind another Big East foe, sixth-seeded St. John’s, 34-18 at half on the way to a 65-47 defeat.

“I think we felt last year to win our very first tournament game is really difficult,” said Banghart.

“We had a lot of kids back from that team. I thought we were well prepared and they didn’t do anything we didn’t expect. I just felt that we came unglued in the first half. I would have thought that we had the mental toughness to not roll over so quickly.”

Banghart hopes her returning players will be tougher after the experience last Sunday.

“There are a lot of kids in the locker room who have another chance,” added Banghart, who noted that she will be adding national powers Stanford, Marist, and DePaul to next year’s schedule to help better prepare her team for postseason play.

“It is a long time from now so we have to feel this one and let it hurt and then regroup. We will get one in the tournament. I don’t know when but we will get one. I know how hard it is; I have a lot of respect for this tournament.”

The team’s pair of seniors, Micir and guard Krystal Hill, have certainly earned the respect of their coach.

“You feel how sad they are right now,” said Banghart. “You have to get through that and realize that they won 50 games in their last two years after winning seven in their first year. Getting to the tournament is not enough for this group. It comes down to the more chances you get there, the better chance you have to win.”

Micir, for her part, dissolved into tears when she reflected on not having another chance to play for Princeton.

“It is really disappointing,” said a weeping Micir, who finished her college career with 1,188 points.

“I think the saddest thing is that this is the last time that I get to play with my teammates. Only one team gets to have a happy ending so it’s going to happen this round, the next round, or the round after that unless you are one of the top teams in the tournament.”

In time, Micir will be able take solace from the fact that she was a key factor in bringing Princeton to the top of the Ivy League.

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