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Women's basketball sweeps Brown and Yale to keep pace in Ivy League race

The women’s basketball team comfortably won a pair of Ivy League matchups to keep pace with Penn and Harvard in the standings. Princeton (15-6 overall, 6-1 Ivy League) beat Brown 81-70 on Friday before dominating Yale 96-75 on Saturday. Junior guard Blake Dietrick’s back-to-back career-highs of 27 and 28 vaulted her into second place in conference play scoring.

Against Brown, Princeton was forced to change up its starting five for the first time since Nov. 26. Sophomore guard Taylor Williams got her first career start, replacing sophomore guard Amanda Berntsen, who was sick. Despite the hiccup, the Tigers looked to be on their way towards a blowout of Brown (8-14, 2-6) at the half with the score 46-31. Dietrick and sophomore guard Alex Wheatley had 14 and 12, respectively, and the team outshot the Bears 55.6 percent to 29.6 percent. Brown picked up its game in the second half and played Princeton closely, before going on a run to win the half 39-35. It appeared head coach Courtney Banghart was using the game to get her younger players some experience as 10 Tigers played at least double-digit minutes and no one saw more than 28. Princeton and Brown both shot around 43 percent for the half, including five-of-eight from three for the Tigers.

Wheatley ended up with 16 points and senior forward and captain Kristen Helmstetter contributed 13. All 11 Tigers to play pulled in at least one rebound, with no player getting more than five. Brown’s leading scorer, Lauren Clarke, scored 13 for them, and Natalie Ball had a game-high nine rebounds.

Princeton got off to a similarly hot start against Yale, taking a 49-33 lead into the break. Dietrick had an astonishing 25 points in the first half, well on pace for the team’s single game scoring record of 38. The program does not keep records by half, but 25 points is certainly among the top few half-game performances ever at Princeton. The Tigers had an incredibly hot shooting half at 63.3 percent, and again held their opponents in check, this time allowing a third of Yale’s field goal attempts. Princeton again let up in the second half, allowing Yale to make it a single-digit game with 15 minutes left. But the Tigers answered right back, inflating the lead to 34 with seven to play.

The 96 points are the most by a Princeton team since they scored 98 in a 62-point victory over Columbia last February. The team shot nearly 60 percent from the floor, the second best mark in at least the last three seasons. Princeton also outrebounded Yale 46-27, with Helmstetter supplying 10, her fourth double-digit performance of the season. Five Tigers reached double-digits, including Wheatley, Williams, Miller and Berntsen in 12 minutes off the bench. Yale’s Sarah Halejian, near the league leader in several statistical categories, scored 17 off a ridiculous 21 attempts, and added five rebounds, seven assists and three steals.

Princeton is riding a five-game win streak into the all-important matchup at league leader Harvard. That game is Saturday night, while the Tigers face cellar-dwelling Dartmouth in Hanover the night before.

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