Alarie Hits 1,000-Point Mark for PU Women’s Hoops, Utilizing Assertiveness to Help Tigers Post 1-1 Weekend
By Bill Alden
Bella Alarie produced another milestone moment in her career for the Princeton University women’s basketball team last Friday evening as the Tigers hosted Yale in Jadwin Gym.
After setting an Ivy League single-game record by scoring 45 points in a win over Columbia on February 1, junior forward Alarie notched the 1,000th point of her college career late in the third quarter against the Bulldogs.
“I was really excited to get it on our home floor in front of my family members,” said the 6’4 Alarie, a native of Bethesda, Md.
“It is really cool. It means a lot as a player that my teammates trust me enough to shoot the ball. I have been getting better every year.”
It ended up not being one of the better nights for the Tigers as they trailed for most of the contest with Yale leading 42-39 at half and 62-57 entering the fourth quarter. With 3:44 remaining in regulation, the Tigers were down 72-65 but not out as they went on 14-7 run to force overtime. In the extra session, though, Princeton faltered as the Bulldogs pulled away to a 96-86 win.
“Our goal today was to come out with the first punch and we did not do that,” lamented Alarie, who ended up with 38 points and 13 rebounds in the defeat.
Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart credited Yale with landing more punches on the evening.
“We almost stole it from them but they were the tougher team,” said Banghart.
“We battled hard but that is different. It turns on not giving up 96 points. You give their sixth man [Alexandra Maund] 18 (points) and 11 (rebounds), she barely made our scout. You give up second chance points, 15 for Yale, 2 for us and they get 16 offensive boards. Those are toughness stats; we just got out-toughed.”
Banghart acknowledged that her team needs to be tougher on the defensive end.
“I don’t think any of them, especially the first group, feels like they were disciplined defensively,” said Banghart.
“For some reason, they did not click. We were really on the defensive game plan last weekend so they are picking and choosing when they are going to dial in to how we want to play defensively.”
Having won six Ivy titles in the last 12 seasons, the Tigers have to deal better with pressure of being the hunted.
“We are carrying this huge target in being the best team in the league over the last many years,” said Banghart.
“It is why you came here, it is what we are about. It is why I am still here, I like being the best team. We have got to play with a little more toughness, more fearlessness earlier in games.”
Banghart has no qualms about the fearless play she is getting from Alarie.
“Bella Alarie is a whole lot better than she was a year ago,” maintained Banghart.
“It is so easy to talk about being tough, it is so hard to do it. She had six steals tonight; she played great. I don’t think she played any different than she always does with this new aggressive, assertive mentality.”
Senior guard Gabrielle Rush displayed her winning mentality down the stretch against Yale, draining a long 3-pointer with 11.4 seconds left in regulation to pull Princeton into the 79-79 tie.
“She is clutch in a lot of ways; she is doing a lot for where she is for our team,” said Banghart of Rush.
“She is a piece and we are asking her to do a little bit more than just be a piece.”
A night later against Brown, Rush was clutch again, hitting a career-best six 3-pointers and scoring 22 points as the Tigers prevailed 93-74 and improved to 11-9 overall and 3-2 Ivy.
In the wake of the Yale loss, Alarie vowed that Princeton would come through against Brown.
“We really need to turn around tomorrow and actually follow through with that,” said Alarie, who chipped in 20 points and 16 rebounds against the Bears and was later named named the Ivy League Player for the Week for the second straight week. “We need to get a win on our home floor in the Ivy season. There is a lot at stake, I think it is going to fuel us.”
With Princeton playing at Harvard on February 15 and at Dartmouth on February 16, Alarie will be looking to fuel the Tigers with her renewed emphasis on aggressive play.
“After the Penn game (a 66-60 loss on January 5), we obviously had a lot of time to reflect on that,” said Alarie, who is now averaging 23.7 points and 10.9 rebounds a game.
“I sat down with coach for a while and we talked about how I needed to go in the rest of the season. I am going to be more assertive. The first game back was the game at Columbia and that just showed what assertive is to me. It worked out well.”