February 21, 2018

With Freshman Meyers Getting Into a Groove, PU Women’s Hoops Moves Firmly Atop Ivies

ABBY ROAD: Princeton University women’s basketball player Abby Meyers heads to the hoop in recent action. Last week, freshman guard Meyers scored 17 points to help Princeton defeat Penn 60-40. Last Saturday, she chipped in 12 as the Tigers rolled to 74-46 win at Columbia. Princeton, now 19-4 overall and 9-1 Ivy League, plays at Dartmouth on February 23 and at Harvard on February 24. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Abby Meyers has experienced some growing pains this winter in her freshman season with the Princeton University women’s basketball team.

The highly touted Meyers, who scored more than 1,700 points for Walt Whitman High (Md.), went through some ups and downs over the first few months of her debut campaign, scoring 13 points against Davidson in her third game but then being held scoreless in wins over St. Joseph’s on December 20 and Penn on January 6.

The 6’0 freshman guard from Potomac, Md. acknowledged that it has taken her a while to adjust to college basketball.

“I think the biggest challenge is that everyone on this team in high school were the main players on their team, so it is coming in and trying to fit myself into this Princeton team.” said Meyers.

“It is really just settling into the Princeton offense and defense, trying to learn the game batter and take things slow.”

With Princeton hosting a critical Ivy League homestand against Harvard, Dartmouth, and Penn, Meyers displayed her game. She scored six points against the Crimson in an 80-47 win  on February 9 and then exploded for a career-high 19 against Dartmouth in an 82-63 triumph the next day and then 17 against the Quakers as the Tigers triumphed 60-40 in the February 13 contest.

“It is just wanting to be a spark in any way, offensively or defensively, and trying to keep an open mind,” added Meyers, who is now averaging 7.9 points and 2.8 rebounds a game.

Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart is not surprised to see Meyers getting into the swing of things on the next level.

“Abby came in and was a very heralded recruit,” said Banghart. “She had to learn the college pace and learn the college game. This kid stays after every single practice to work on her ball handling. Defensively, she went from sort of paying attention to locking into what we are asking her to do.”

The hard work put in by Meyers is clearly paying dividends. “I am really proud of her because she could have packed it in and said I can get better starting in the spring,” said Banghart.

“We know she can score. It is that fact that she is able to defend and rebound and she is able to retain how we want her to play. She is probably our most improved player; she is playing with more confidence because she can do more on the court than she used to be able to do. We are better the better she gets.”

Sophomore standout Bella Alarie is getting better and better, contributing 18 points and 15 rebounds against Penn and helping to hold Quaker star Michelle Nwokedi to 12 points on 5-of-18 shooting.

“Bella is still learning how to be a star and what it is to be a star,” said Banghart.

“She played with a lot of joy tonight. She guarded one of the best players in our league really well. She is really special at both ends. She had that big 3, she is in the right position, defensively. She was solid the whole game; we are really, really grateful that she is a Tiger.”

Banghart was proud of the defensive effort collectively in the win over Penn as the Tigers held the Quakers to a season low in points and 25.8 percent shooting from the floor (16-for-62).

“It was on a one-day scout; we gave them off Sunday,” explained Banghart.

“We came in and watched some film and then Monday, we went through the scout. I give a lot of credit to my staff. These guys were just totally locked in defensively. We knew how we wanted to play and I thought we did a really good job of that.”

Building on the win over Penn, Princeton kept surging as it topped Cornell 72-40 on Friday and Columbia 74-46 a day later to improve to 19-4 overall and 9-1 Ivy.

“I have said it all along, I just really love this team, they are totally locked into the process,” said Banghart, whose squad has now posted six straight victories and will look to keep on the winning track as it plays at Dartmouth on February 23 and at Harvard on February 24.

“I have to literally kick them out of the gym. It was a huge homestand for us. We are just playing better basketball. Against Yale (a 73-59 loss on February 2), we just didn’t play well. I love the bounce back. That is a good team.”

Meyers, for her part, is dedicated to the process of getting better and better.

“It is just staying patient and trying to make a difference for the team and doing whatever I can to help,” said Meyers, who chipped in 12 points in Princeton’s win at Columbia.