The Princeton University Basketball Team opens the New Year ranked No. 22 in the Associated Press Women’s Basketball Top 25 poll.
The Tigers’ ranking is the highest-ever for an Ivy program. The only other time an Ivy squad was ranked was when Princeton closed out the 2011-12 campaign No. 24 in the final AP poll.
“I go into every year with little expectation; instead with a steady mindset of process and progress,” Tigers Coach Courtney Banghart said. “This is such a likable group, that honestly I wasn’t sure we’d develop the edge necessary to be great. But this team has bought in and they do things the right way.”
The Tigers have steadily climbed the charts this season, receiving an increasing number of points each week.
As of games played through Jan. 4, the Tigers are also slotted No. 23 in the NCAA RPI Rankings, No. 5 in the Jeff Sagarin/CBN Women’s Basketball Ratings, and No. 3 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top-25.
“We judge ourselves on how hard we play in the moment, how we push ourselves to improve, and in our preparation for the next opponent,” Banghart said. “With this team it’s been about defensive accountability, a versatile offensive attack, senior leadership, and caring about the right things.”
The Tigers have won by double digits in all but one of their games, the lone exception being a seven-point margin of victory against American University on Nov. 23. In seven of its outings, Princeton has held a lead of at least 30 points. The largest win was a 71-point rout of Portland St. on Dec. 19.
Through 15 games, Princeton has played from behind in the second half for a total of just 1:32.
“This is a true team who trains and plays with grit and toughness. Together, they’ve developed a collective edge,” Banghart said. “They’ve won on the road, they’ve won big, they’ve adjusted throughout the year, and they’ve remained focus on process and progress. In coaching, your players are your front line. I couldn’t be prouder to be standing behind this Tiger team as they go about their work.”
One of just four remaining undefeated teams alongside Mississippi St. (17-0), South Carolina (14-0) and Texas (12-0), Princeton leads the nation in three-point field goal percentage (44.0). Princeton is also seventh in field-goal percentage (48.3) and scoring margin (+25.5), 14th in assists per game (17.6), 17th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.25), and 30th in scoring offense (77.0).
Also sporting one of the country’s top defenses, the Tigers are ninth in points allowed (51.5), 17th in opponent three-point percentage (24.9), 18th in rebounding margin (+9.7), and 24th in opponent field goal percentage (34.4).
In the midst of one of the most successful runs in program history, Princeton has posted a 153-66 record under Banghart with a 78-17 mark against Ivy opponents, having captured four of the last five league titles.
Earning a postseason berth in each of the last five years, the Tigers were the first Ivy squad to reach four straight NCAA Tournaments (2010-13). The No. 9 seed in 2012 and 2013, Princeton was the No. 11 and No. 12 seed in 2011 and 2010, respectively, representing the highest seeds an Ivy League team has earned.
“To earn this Top 25 national ranking twice, with two very different teams, means more than I can explain,” Banghart said. “I’m proud of my staff and I’m proud of all of those who’ve worn the Orange and Black the Tiger way. At Princeton it’s about being part of something bigger than yourself. We again celebrate this honor as a program: past, present, and future. We will continue to recruit the right kids: those who trust the process of becoming great and are likable along the way.”
Source: Princeton Athletic Communications