February 26, 2020

Sophomore Guard Stone Displays Her Progress, Starring as PU Women’s Hoops Tops Dartmouth

ROLLING STONE: Princeton University women’s basketball player Grace Stone dribbles up the court in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore guard Stone matched her career high with 16 points as Princeton defeated Dartmouth 87-55 to post its 17th straight win. The Tigers, who improved to 21-1 overall and 9-0 Ivy League with the win, were slated to host Penn on February 25, Brown on February 28, and Yale on February 29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When Karen Stone sang the national anthem before the Princeton University women’s basketball team played Dartmouth last Saturday evening, one player was particularly inspired.

“It was super cool for me,” said Stone’s daughter, Princeton sophomore guard Grace Stone.

“She used to sing at my high school games too. It was always a nice thing that we shared, so it was nice for her to come in and represent the Stone family. It just sent me with a lot of energy into the game.”

One minute into the game, the energy in the building was sapped when Princeton senior star and two-time Ivy League Player of the Year Bella Alarie crumpled to the floor after missing a layup, clutching her right knee and yelping in pain.

The gym hushed as Alarie was helped to the sideline and examined out of sight in a corner of the gym.

“I was just mostly scared more than anything, my knee just gave out under me,” said Alarie.

“Once I walked around and saw the trainer I knew I was going to be OK. I am just scared to do anything to your knee as a player.”

Princeton head coach Carla Berube maintained her composure as Alarie was tended to.

“I was thinking OK, get up,” said Berube. “Once she went down there, she seemed to be OK. Jody, our trainer, took a look at her and came back to the bench and said she was ready to go.”

Although Alarie returned to the game with 2:56 left in the first quarter, it took a while for Princeton to get going as it was clinging to 34-32 lead over the Big Green at halftime

“We knew that they played really, really hard, they space you out, and they can shoot the ball really well,” said Berube.

“I just thought we needed to do a better job defensively. I thought we were undisciplined defensively; we were going for blocked shots and letting them drive into the paint on us. The message at half was defend the way we are capable of defending, be more disciplined and that will fuel our offense. When we got stops, we were getting some great chances.”

Stone helped fuel the offense in the third quarter, tallying nine points as Princeton outscored Dartmouth 31-11 in the frame on the way to an 87-55 win, posting its 17th straight win in improving to 21-1 overall and 9-0 Ivy.

“I tried to be as confident as I could,” said Stone, a 5’11 native of Glen Cove, N.Y., who ended up matching her career high with 16 points on the game while Alarie shrugged off her injury scare to pour in a game-high 28 points.

“I knew that they were going to double on Bella. They were really packing the paint so I just needed to find openings, space out, and just shoot out there.”

Reflecting on her progress this season, Stone has developed a greater comfort level on the court.

“Last year, I wasn’t an aggressive scorer, my role was to help get stops, to play hard, and do the little things,” said Stone, who is averaging 6.5 points a game this year up from 4.2 points last winter.

“This year I have been still trying to find my footing as an offensive threat in the team. On defense, I try to contain my player, trying to get stops and be a good help defender. I talk to coach Berube all the time, trying to be better on that aspect of the defensive end. I am getting way more comfortable just playing and not overthinking it.”

With Princeton slated to host archrival Penn on February 25 and before heading into its final Ivy home weekend with games against Brown on February 28 and Yale on February 29, Berube is happy to be staying in the friendly confines of Jadwin Gym.

“I am glad it is here,” said Berube of the clash against Penn. “In the midst of a tough stretch, it is nice that we are in our own house. I know what the rivalry has been like with them. We will get as prepared as we possibly can and hope for a great game on Tuesday.”

Stone, for her part, is looking for a great finish to the season.

“It is so easy to get frustrated when you are not making shots,” said Stone.

“Just seeing the ball go through and seeing that what you are doing is working is really helpful going into the next stretch of games.”