Princeton Women’s Basketball One Step Closer To Historic Championship

Photo: Mel Evans/AP Images.
On Saturday morning, Princeton women's basketball took one step closer the NCAA championship. In a packed stadium, with President Obama in the stands, the Tigers beat Green Bay 80-70.  Princeton entered the tournament as the object of particular interest: the team had a perfect season, winning 30 games and losing none, the only women's team (and one of only two) to post that record. It's the best an Ivy League team has ever done and many — including our nation’s most famous basketball fan (and president) Barack Obama — predict they'll go far this championship.  And yet, the Tigers are something of an underdog. Despite their perfect season, they started the finals seeded 8th out of 16. Dru Hancock, the NCAA women's basketball committee chair, says the seed is due to the relative ease of teams they faced this season, though some have complained.  For Maureen McCracken Smith, who played at Princeton from 00-’04, the seed just makes things more fun. “To be honest, I don't know that the NCAA has ever expected such a high caliber team to emerge from this league. Their performance in this tournament could set the bar for higher seeds being given to the Ivy League champions going forward,” she tells us. And anyway, “there's something exhilarating about cheering for the underdog!” A lot of Princeton success has been attributed to the team’s all-female coaching staff, especially head coach Courtney Banghart. She took over in 2007 and by 2009, they were first in their conference — where they’ve sat for five of the past six years.  Princeton will likely go on to face top-seeded Maryland in the next round.

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