Thursday, January 27, 2022

Abby Chitwood

TigerBlog was sitting under the basket at the end of Jadwin Gym at which Princeton's women's baskeball team was shooting in the first half against Dartmouth.

As the final seconds of the Tigers' last possession ticked away, Abby Meyers had the ball, dribbling above the three-point line. From where he was sitting, TB had only one thought: Hoosiers.

This was just like the end of the movie. Meyers was playing Jimmy Chitwood. She might as well have looked over at the bench and said "I'll make it."

Okay, this wasn't the Indiana state championship game. That didn't matter. It also wasn't the end of the game. It was the end of the half (actually, there were 15 seconds left in the half). What happened next almost exactly from the movie.

Meyers saw the shot clock in front of her. When it went under five, she took a few dribbles and then shot. Just like in the movie, it perfectly swished through the net. It was almost like it was scripted, though it only took one take.

It made the halftime score 45-11, en route to a final score of 78-35. 

Meyers is sort of a real-life Jimmy Chitwood. She is a completely fearless offensive player, one who can shoot from the outside, has a mid-range game and can get to the basket. Yes, the more TB thinks about it, the more he likes the comparison.

Meyers played 23 minutes against Dartmouth and finished with 23 points, which makes the math easy. She is the Ivy League's leading scorer, averaging 18 per game, and she has been in double figures in each of the Tigers' first 17 games.

Her next chance to extend that streak comes up tomorrow night at 7 at Yale in a game that was originally supposed to be Saturday afternoon but has now been moved up due to the impending snowstorm.

It's a huge game in the Ivy League, between the 5-0 Tigers and the 5-1 Bulldogs. These are the top two defensive teams in the league, which gives a sense of what kind of game it could be. Yale is led by Camilla Emsbo, who 1) is fourth in the league in scoring and second in rebounding and 2) is the 6-5 identical twin sister of Princeton's Kira Emsbo.

Yale is less than a week away from a 63-53 win over Penn, a statement game for a Yale team that, along with Columbia, is looking to end the Tiger/Quaker dominance of Ivy League women's basketball.

In the last 11 seasons of Ivy women's hoops, Princeton has won eight championships and Penn has won four (there was one co-championship mixed in). Columbia and Yale, meanwhile, have combined for one Ivy women's basketball championship all-time (that was Yale's title in 1979).

All of this could change this year. Columbia is still unbeaten after its impressive 61-56 win over Penn, moving the Lions to 5-0 to keep pace with the Tigers. Those two meet a week from Saturday at Jadwin.

In fact Princeton still has two games against Yale and two games against Columbia, as well as one more to go against Penn. Harvard, in Kathy Delaney-Smith's final season after 40 years as head coach, is also in the mix, at least for an Ivy tournament slot, with a 3-3 league record, which now is good for fourth place in the league, ahead of 2-3 Penn.

TigerBlog spoke to Carla Berube, the Tiger head coach, about the win over Dartmouth and the upcoming game against Yale on this week's podcast. He also had on sophomore Ellie Mitchell, who is the Ivy League's leading rebounder, just ahead of Yale's Emsbo.

Mitchell is another dominant Princeton player from the Washington, D.C., area, along with Meyers and Bella Alarie, among others through the years. 

TB asked Mitchell about her tenacity when it comes to rebounding, what the secrets are, what it was like to go all 40 minutes against Texas and a few other things that give you a pretty good sense of who she is. You can listen to it HERE.

What she is this week is the one who most has to contend with Emsbo. That'll be an interesting matchup in an interesting game. 

It's not even the midway point of the Ivy basketball season, so there is no championship to be won this weekend. Even knowing that, this does figure to be a good one.

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