Photo Credit: Mike Franco

Princeton defeats Rutgers to improve to 7-3

On Thursday, the Princeton University and Rutgers University women's basketball teams faced off at Jersey Mike's Arena for a little New Jersey rivalry game. Princeton came out victorious, winning 77-56. Princeton is now 7-3 on the season, and Rutgers drops to 5-8.

Senior Julia Cunningham led the Tigers with 24 points on the night. Freshman Kaylene Smikle dropped 26 points off the bench and eight rebounds to lead the Scarlet Knights.

Rutgers came out of the gates firing, leading Princeton in the first two quarters. Cunningham started the scoring with two made free throws early in the first quarter. After that, Rutgers was able to push ahead after Smikle made numerous buckets. Even though Rutgers has not had the best start to their season, they looked alive in the first quarter, especially when Smikle had the ball.Β The first quarter ended tied 14-14 after sophomore Paige Morton made a good layup with 41 seconds to go.

Junior Kaitlyn Chen kicked off the second quarter with a layup and one to give the Tigers 17 total points. That didn't stop the Scarlet Knights as they went on an 8-0 scoring run jumpstarted by senior Awa Sidibe with a jumper. Smikle also contributed with a jumper, and one after Cunningham fouled her. By the end of the quarter, Rutgers was leading the Tigers by 10 points. Princeton struggled to get the ball through the hoop in the last two minutes to decrease the growing deficit. Rutgers outscored Princeton 18-8.

At the end of the first half, the Tigers shot 23 percent in the paint and 24 percent from downtown. Rutgers shot 50 percent in the paint and 55 percet from downtown.

Returning from halftime, Princeton found their usual dominant selves and took control of the game. Rutgers got five points on the board before Princeton went on a Β Β 17-0 scoring drive to dominate the quarter. Cunningham contributed seven points, two of which were jumpers and a 3-pointer. Freshman Madison St. Rose scored five points in the drive, a jumper, and a 3-pointer. Smikle was able to score five points in the remaining minutes of the half, but it wasn't enough as Princeton now led 47-44, their first lead of the night.

The final quarter of the evening produced a strong showing by the Tigers to finish the win. Senior Grace Stone was a big piece of the quarter with multiple free throws and three-point shots. Rutgers got sloppy toward the end with multiple turnovers and the unluckiness of the ball not going through the hoop. Despite Rutgers strong first-half performance, Princeton won with a 21-point lead in 77-56.

Princeton finished shooting 41 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from downtown. Rutgers finished shooting 41.3 percent from the field and 50 percent from downtown. Even though Rutgers' shooting percentage was greater than Princeton's, their lack of shots in the second half caused them to remain even with the first half.

What's Up Next for these Jersey Teams?

Princeton returns to the court on Wednesday, Dec. 28, to face the University of Rhode Island in a non-conference matchup at home. The game starts at 2 p.m. and will be streaming on ESPN+.

Rutgers returns to Jersey Mike's Arena on Sunday to face the University of New Orleans. The game begins at 2 p.m. and will be streaming on B1G Ten Network.