Vol. LXII, No. 48
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
SURE START: Princeton University womens basketball freshman guard Laura Johnson brings the ball up the court in recent action. Last Saturday, Johnson scored 11 points off the bench in 13 minutes in her Jadwin Gym debut to help Princeton rout Stony Brook 88-41. Princeton, which improved to 2-1 with the victory, plays at Lehigh on November 30.
Laura Johnson has gone through plenty of pregame warm-ups over the years but last Saturday night was special.
The 58 Johnson cherished the moment as she loosened up in Jadwin Gym before the first home game of her career with the Princeton University womens basketball team.
I love it; it is an awesome gym, said Johnson. I was excited for my first game at home. It was a good crowd; I was ready to play.
The freshman from Lower Gwynedd, Pa. channeled her excitement into some superb play off the bench for the Tigers.
In the first half, she chipped in two assists and a steal in six minutes of play as Princeton built a 43-18 halftime advantage.
Over the final 20 minutes, Johnson found her shooting eye, hitting a trio of three-pointers as she scored 11 points to help the Tigers roar away to an 88-41 rout of the Seawolves.
When Johnson came in the first half to relieve senior point guard Jessica Berry, she was looking to keep an even keel despite her excitement.
You just want to take care of the ball; you want to get your teammates open, said Johnson, who ended the evening with four assists and three rebounds in 13 minutes of action as the Tigers improved to 2-1 on the season.
You want to be a ball handler and be a general on the court. Thankfully my teammates were getting up the court for me. I was able to push the ball up the court a couple of times to Lauren [Edwards] and the rest of my teammates and they were able to hit shots which was very helpful.
Johnson enjoyed hitting her shots. Our motion offense was working, everyone was touching the ball a couple of times, said Johnson who shot 4-of-5 from the field.
I got open shots and thankfully I was able to hit those. After my first shot, I started feeling it.
Johnson acknowledged that the Tigers needed to regain the winning feeling, coming off an 83-35 loss to No. 2 Rutgers last Wednesday.
We couldnt have asked for more from this game, said Johnson. We came out and had energy right from the get-go. It started with our starting five. They got a couple of defensive stops and got a couple of quick baskets and then the bench was able to carry it on from there.
For Johnson, playing behind the wily Berry has helped her get off to a quick start in her college career.
Jessica is like my coach in practice; she is always on me, said Johnson.
LJ why are you doing this, and doing that, said Johnson. I love watching her play because she plays with so much heart. Out of everyone on the team, I think she plays with the most heart. To be able to play like her would be an honor.
Johnson wasnt the only Princeton freshman who showed heart in the win Saturday as classmate Devona Allgood had a team-high 10 rebounds with fellow newcomer Lauren Edwards chipping in nine points and Angela Groves coming up with three points and two rebounds.
The Tiger freshman class, which also includes Beth Binkley, has already developed a strong bond.
We are a very, very close class, asserted Johnson. Its tough not to spend a lot of time with each other because we are in the gym so much. We eat almost all of our meals together; we are always hanging out. Its just a great group of girls.
Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart likes what she is getting from her group of rookies.
They are growing and they are being forced to grow up quickly, said Banghart.
As you can see, they all get a chance. Devona was great on the boards. LJ made big shots. Lauren is so smooth; Angela and Beth were good.
It was good for Princeton to bounce back from its lopsided loss to Rutgers.
We knew we were better than that, maintained Banghart, whose team shot 57.7 percent from the field in the win over Stony Brook and outrebounded the Seawolves 40-22.
I am really pleased with their ability to bounce back; we executed on both sides really well. It was good post play; it was good guard play. It wasnt any one thing; we preach variety all year and I think we did a good job of that tonight.
Princetons starting five did a good job as the Tigers jumped out to a 24-10 lead.
I thought our starters got us off to a really good start, said Banghart, who is in her second year at the helm of the Tiger program. Our kids showed that after they got punched in the face against Rutgers, they wanted to come out swinging.
Tiger sophomore star Addie Micir came out shooting, hitting her first six shots on the way to a game-high 20 points.
Addie can play any position, added Banghart of Micir who ended the game hitting 7-of-10 shots including 5-of-6 from three-point range.
As we grow, we are going to be able play off her a little better. She was phenomenal; she is just a great player.
Banghart is looking for more great things from her team as it builds on its nice start.
Not only are we 2-1 but we had a big win on the road against a young team, said Banghart, whose club plays at Lehigh on November 30.
We beat this team convincingly; it is nice to see results. Last year was all about process. We still have a long ways to go, but for game three, I am happy.
Johnson, for her part, thinks the Tigers are ready to do well over the long haul.
It is a very long season, you have to keep your intensity going from game to game to game, said Johnson.
Everyone in this game stepped up and hit shots, got rebounds, got deflections, got steals. I think it is a confidence booster for all of us. You go in, you give everything and know the next girl is going to come in and do the same thing for you.
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