December 15, 2021

Despite a Career-High 19 Rebounds from Mitchell, PU Women’s Hoops Suffers 1st Loss at Home Since ’19

GOING TO THE GLASS: Princeton University women’s basketball player Ellie Mitchell heads in for a layup in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore forward Mitchell pulled down a career-high 19 rebounds in a losing cause as Princeton fell 70-60 to Seton Hall. The defeat snapped a 21-game home winning streak for the Tigers, the third longest in the nation heading into the day. Princeton, which fell to 6-3 with the setback, hosts Texas on December 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Princeton University women’s basketball team hosting a tall and skilled Seton Hall squad last Saturday afternoon, Ellie Mitchell knew she had to hit the boards for the Tigers.

“In our last loss (76-67 to Fordham on December 5) we got out-toughed so that is one of the things we can control, work hard and hit a body and go chase the ball,” said 6’0 sophomore forward Mitchell, a native of Chevy Chase, Md.

“I think that all comes back to being a team effort, everyone boxes out. That is a big thing, whether or not shots are falling, rebounding what I need to do.”

Mitchell displayed her toughness against the Pirates, pulling down a career-high 19 rebounds, the most in a game for Princeton since Bella Alarie had 19 against Quinnipiac on December 8, 2018.

But Mitchell’s hard work on the glass wasn’t enough as Seton Hall defeated Princeton 70-60, snapping its 21-game home winning streak, the third longest in the nation heading into the day as the Tigers fell in Jadwin Gym for the first time since losing 86-76 to Yale on February 8, 2019.

“They had some great offensive players, they had two girls averaging high teens and a really big post player and we were ready for that,” said Mitchell, reflecting on the setback which dropped Princeton to 6-3.

“We missed some defensive shifts, we were out of our rhythm, They hit some big shots and we just weren’t where we needed to be. Our biggest thing is just communicate and have high hands. We scouted them well, we had to be ready to switch. We knew what we had to do, we just didn’t execute the way we wanted to.”

Mitchell also hit some shots, tallying 10 points to go along with her boards.

“I have been getting more comfortable each time, they are sagging off me a lot,” said Mitchell.

“I am more of an inside player, I have been working on taking that little foul line jumper. Each shot that goes in, makes me more comfortable and confident. It is just getting used to it and trusting my shot.”

Emerging as Princeton’s top inside player, Mitchell is confident that she can make an impact in the paint.

“We are not the same team that we used to be without Bella [Alarie] and without Taylor [Baur],” said Mitchell, who is averaging 6.9 points and a team-high 9.8 rebounds per game.

“We have an undersized post presence so I am playing a lot more minutes, just getting more comfortable working hard and doing what I am good at. I am looking to capitalize on mismatches and just work hard.”

Princeton head coach Carla Berube is thrilled with Mitchell’s work in the post.

“Ellie has been awesome, she is that impact player that you don’t normally see all of her work on the stat sheet,” said Berube.

“She just makes us better with every possession because she just outworks everybody out there.”

Against Seton Hall, Mitchell’s performance on the glass wasn’t enough to overcome the Pirates.

“I thought Ellie did a great job of crashing the boards hard and giving us second chance opportunities,” said Berube.

“We just couldn’t connect. We missed quite a few lists bunnies inside. Shots that we usually make in our own gym just weren’t falling today but credit to Seton Hall. They really brought it, they certainly had a lot of energy on the bench and on the court. They outplayed us. They did a good job of taking away some of the things that we wanted to do. They made it really hard for us to run our offense. They had such a good balance of strong inside play with really, really good guard play. ”

Despite the challenges posed by Seton Hall, Princeton trailed just 37-35 at halftime only to see the Pirates start the third quarter with a 15-5 run and never look back on the way to the win.

“We had trouble scoring, we missed some easy shots in the beginning in that third quarter and it got away,” said Berube, who got 16 points from Abby Meyers in the loss with Julia Cunningham chipping in 14.

“When we got a stop or two, we would throw the ball away. There were way too many unforced turnovers on our part, just giving away possessions. We can’t do that against good teams. We had 21 turnovers today. Seton Hall is very good defensively but those were a lot of us just throwing the ball away, trying to do too much and not making the easy plays.”

With the Tigers in the midst of a five-game homestand, Berube believes her squad can get on the right track.

“It is good to be home now, it has been a tough stretch against a lot of really great teams,” said Berube, whose team hosts Texas on December 22.

“We are not playing any easy games. These losses could definitely happen and we have got to learn from them, grow from them, and move forward. Hopefully in the long run, it makes us better.”

In Mitchell’s view, the Tigers learned some key lessons from the defeat to the Pirates.

“We haven’t had a lot of home games, we take pride playing here,” said Mitchell.

“It is our home, we are used to the rims. Moving forward, we want to protect our home. This is a horrible feeling, losing at home. We are playing some good teams, it is going to be a good little stretch of home games. We have got to trust our help more, we have got to bear down. We have to hit shots, that is also a big thing for us. Our defense wasn’t where we wanted it to be so we are going to focus in on that and trust our help, keep working at it and be ready for the next one.”