Darcy Kepner was anxious to see her Princeton Tigresses take the court Monday night after nine days off since placing second in their own season-opening tournament.
While they were a little slow to start, the Tigresses returned to their winning ways, defeating Sandwich, 35-24, at Prouty Gym. They outscored the Indians, 14-9, in the fourth quarter to pull away to victory.
“I thought we played really hard,” Kepner said. “We talked about competing before the game and we were happy with how the tournament went, but we wanted to get this one tonight and kind of make a statement here at home. We had a good couple days of practice. I was a little worried how we would respond after a week off, but I thought the girls came out well.”
The win improved the Tigresses to 5-0, while Sandwich fell to 2-4.
Junior Jen Tirao got the Tigresses going in the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer with 6 1/2 minutes left to play for a 24-15 lead.
Senior Maggie Davis followed a bucket by classmate McKenzie Hecht with a 3-pointer to stretch Princeton’s lead to 29-17 with 3 1/2 minutes remaining.
Claire Allen hit two free throws and added a 3-pointer to pull the Indians within seven, 31-24.
Princeton scored the final four points of the game on baskets by Mariah Hobson and Olivia Gartin.
“I talked about coming out in the fourth quarter and kind of putting it away and not letting them get back into the game and putting the hammer down,” Kepner said.
Hecht had a team-high nine points for Princeton, while Ibarra and Gartin added seven each.
For Sandwich, Allen had nine points and Allie Olsen added six.
Sandwich scored the first five points of the game and the first two points of the second quarter to go up 7-4.
Princeton scored seven unanswered points to take the lead for the first time, 11-7. Isa Ibarra connected on two free throws and a basket and Hobson added a layup off a turnover.
Allen hit two free throws to start the third quarter and tie the game at 11.
The Tigresses went on an 8-0 run to regain control. Ibarra hit a 3-pointer and Gartin converted a three-point play with a steal for a layup and added the free throw. Hecht added a layup to make it 19-11.
Hecht hit a shot from the baseline before Molly Roberts scored on a drive for Sandwich to close out the third quarter with a 21-15 lead.
Sandwich coach Randy Malloy saw a lot of improvement from his team.
“I thought our girls battled hard,” Malloy said. “We faced their pressure very well. We moved the ball better than we have all year and they outlasted us. It was a good game.”
Malloy also said the Indians improved their physicality.
“I hate using that word, but we were definitely more physical,” he said. “We just have to learn to control that. We just have to learn how to play under control.”
This was the first meeting between the two programs and both coaches were happy to play it.
“We were excited to just play some better competition and a bigger school. These girls are competitors and they come out and were up for the challenge, I think,” Kepner said.
“It was good. It’s a hike, but yeah it was good competition,” Malloy said. “It was pretty evenly matched, I think. It was fun.”
* Notes: Princeton held a 17-11 halftime and led 30-18 after three quarters in the sophomore game, but Sandwich rallied for a 36-34 victory. Freshman Olivia Mattingly led Princeton with 15 points and Miyah Fox added 11. Hannah Treptow had 13 for Sandwich, including the game-winning basket.