December 29, 2021

Gaining Valuable Experience in Loss to No. 12 Texas, Tiger Women’s Hoops Primed to Start Ivy Campaign

TEXAS TWO STEP: Princeton University women’s basketball player Abby Meyers heads to the hoop last Wednesday against Texas. Senior star Meyers scored a game-high 21 points, but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 70-53 to the Longhorns. The Tigers, now 7-4, are slated to host Harvard on January 2 in the Ivy League opener for both teams. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Hosting 12th-ranked Texas last Wednesday afternoon, the Princeton University women’s basketball team needed some early heroics by Abby Meyers to stay in the game.

With the Longhorns applying its trademark swarming defense, Meyers was the only player on Princeton who scored in the first quarter as Texas built a 15-8 lead. 

“That is an NCAA tournament type game for us, we know we need to make our shots,” said 6’0 senior guard Meyers.

“We have to be ready on our home court to knock them down, but then again, it was their defense. They got up into us and maybe that contributed to the poor shots or misses.”

While Meyers kept hitting shots, drawing Princeton to within 35-31 midway through the third quarter on a layup, the Longhorns wore down the Tigers as they pulled away to a 70-53 victory.

“The game is about runs, it depends on who has the hot hand and give it to them,” said Meyers, who ended up with a game-high 21 points in the defeat and is now averaging a team-high 17.7 points and 5.5 rebounds a game.

“For me offensively, I just wanted to be able to execute within the offense and then try and crash boards. I just try and go out there and do my role and that is to score and play good defense.”

While the Tigers, now 7-4, pride themselves on their defensive intensity, Meyers acknowledged that they could learn some lessons from the stifling Texas approach.

“It teaches us what good, scrappy defense is; causing the late entry passes totally took us off our offensive plays,” said Meyers.

“So just being able to do that and taking those away, it taught us we can beat a team. We can hold them under 40 if we do that.”

Playing a team like the Longhorns, who improved to 9-1 with the win, should help Princeton sharpen its game overall.

“Huge props to our coaching staff to get us that game,” said Meyers.

“They definitely made us have a challenging schedule in the first half for the season. It is all to prepare us for later on. These games, win or lose, are going to get us better and so that is how we are approaching them. Each time, it is let’s just go out there and give all we have got. Whatever the outcome, we are going to be a better team and we are going to move forward and get better.”

Princeton head coach Carla Berube credited her squad with giving its all against the Longhorns.

“In that first quarter we were getting some really great looks, we didn’t knock them down and I was like ugh, this is going to be really tough,” said Berube.

“We can’t hit shots in our own gym but credit to Texas. They made the plays, they made the shots they needed to come out with a victory. I am proud of the way we fought and I told them this is great experience, to come and play against the caliber of Texas to get us ready for the road ahead. We want to be challenged, we want to see what we are made of and that we can play with anybody.”

Berube was proud of the way Meyers played in the defeat.

“In the second half, she turned it up,” said Berube of Meyers.

“That is what Abby can do at any point and she got us back into the game. It was definitely a game in that third quarter. We were only down four, it was going well. We were right there. There were a couple of defensive lapses, they ran some really good stuff. It felt like when we needed to get a bucket, it was a struggle.”

Sophomore forward Ellie Mitchell gave the Tigers some really good stuff on the boards, grabbing a game-high 16 rebounds.

“Ellie is just a kid you want on your team; you don’t want her on the other team because she is just outworking everybody all the time,” said Berube.

“She is just relentless on the boards. She had 12 offensive rebounds against Texas. She just gives us so much, she gives us the opportunity to get more shots. We took a lot more shots than Texas (66-52) did because Ellie was giving us those second chance opportunities. She was awesome.”

With Princeton scheduled to start Ivy League play by hosting Harvard on January 2, Berube will be looking for her players to outwork their league foes.

“We are just looking forward to playing the Ivy League schedule,” said Berube.

“There are going to be some great games, very competitive. We will be excited for it when that day comes.”

Meyers is excited to get into her final Ivy campaign. “I think we were in a good place; our mentality is to just get better,” said Meyers.

“We have played really good teams so that we ready to compete. It is a game of runs so I think we are going to be prepared down the stretch if Columbia or any team hits at us first.”