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Sparked by Superb Efforts From Polansky, Helmstetter, PU Women’s Basketball Finally Breaks Rutgers Hex


auren Polansky knew what she was getting into as the Princeton University women’s basketball team prepared to play Rutgers while Kristen Helmstetter had no idea that she was destined to emerge as a star of the contest. For senior point guard Polansky, facing Rutgers meant dealing with its trademark stifling, in-your-face defense. “Rutgers has a great press; that is how they get going in their offense; getting things going fast with tons of turnovers,” said Polansky. “That’s what ignites them; we knew that going in. We have been working on playing five versus six in practice so I think that really helped us. Personally, I knew that I would have the ball in my hands and as a point guard, I would be taking the brunt of that pressure.” Helmstetter, a junior forward who had zero career starts coming into the clash last Thursday night, was thrust into the limelight in the wake of an injury to classmate Nicole Hung. “I found out late last night that I was getting the start,” said Helmstetter. “It was unfortunate that Nicole got hurt but we got together as a team and really wanted to get this win for her and the whole team in general.” Princeton made it clear from the opening tipoff at Jadwin Gym that it was intent on winning and breaking its 14-game losing streak in the battle of local rivals. The Tigers raced out to a 30-11 lead, putting the proud Scarlet Knights on their heels. The 6’0 Helmstetter played a key role in the early surge, scoring six points and grabbing two rebounds in the first half. “Today was my day,” said Helmstetter, reflecting on an evening which saw the Tigers unveil the banner for winning the Ivy League crown last year, the third straight for the program. “Everyone has their on days and their off days and we just have to work as a team and capitalize on who is on that day.” In the second half, the Scarlet Knights turned up the pressure, cutting a 25-point lead to 12

but it wasn’t enough as Princeton posted a 7155 triumph before a crowd of 1,036. Polansky acknowledged that the Tigers had to weather a storm in the second half. “Good teams are going to go on runs, they are not going to lay down and die,” said Polansky, who scored only one point but ended the evening with game-highs in rebounds (9), assists (7), and steals (3). “After the first half, we knew they were going to make adjustments and we had to adjust to that. When they went on their run, luckily we were able to stop them and go on a run of our own.” It was sweet for the Tigers to break their losing streak in the series. “It is a long-standing rivalry for us,” said the 5’8 Polansky, a native of Mill Valley, Calif. who is the two-time Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year. “Having them in our home gym with a good crowd with our seniors from last year coming back for the banner unveiling. It was really special for us. I think just all around, it was a great environment for us to play in.” Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart applauded the great effort she got from her players. “I thought all night we had more energy than them,” asserted Banghart, who got 17 points from precocious freshman Alex Wheatley in the win with senior star Niveen Rasheed chipping in 15 points and seven rebounds. “I thought we attacked their pressure versus breaking it before we had the clock on our side and that was huge.” It was huge for Banghart and Princeton to have Polansky on their side. “LP came out and took care of the ball and set the tone with our offense,” said Banghart. “She is just as tough as they come. She rebounded for her position. She stuck to the game plan, she held her teammates accountable. If there was a game ball, I would give it to LP.” Banghart wasn’t surprised that Helmstetter proved that she has game. “Kristen can take


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care of the ball,” said Banghart. “She has to play angles well and read the game well and she did both of the things masterfully tonight.” Although Princeton hasn’t beaten Rutgers since 1976, the Tiger players didn’t get overly emotional in their post-game celebration. “This is a business as usual group,” said Banghart, who earned the 100th win of her six-season Princeton tenure last Sunday as the Tigers routed UMBC 93-46 to improve to 5-2. “They know that until January we have to figure out who we are. I hope they enjoy this one. The have a day off tomorrow so maybe they are more excited about that.” Helmstetter, a former star at Bridgewater-Raritan High, certainly enjoyed playing a key role in beating Rutgers. “It feels good; I am 10 minutes away from Rutgers so they are a team I have grown up watching,” said Helmstetter. “It is just great to get that win against them. I know a lot of people on their team as does Kate Miller and Amanda Bern- KNIGHT MOVE: Princeton University women’s basketball player tsen (both New Jersey natives). Lauren Polansky wards off a Rutgers defender last Thursday. We have grown up with those Senior point guard Polansky contributed game-highs in replayers and then played against bounds (9), assists (7), and steals (3) to help Princeton win 71them in high school. It is good 55 and snap a 14-game losing streak to the Scarlet Knights. to see them and play against The Tigers, now 5-2, host Hofstra on December 5 before playthem.” ing at Delaware on December 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski) Polansky believes the win is a sign of good things to come for the Tigers, who Delaware on December 9. “We have a tough preseason schedule which came into the evening still smarting from a 65I think is wonderful. It gets us ready for our 52 loss at No. 19 UCLA on November 25. “This is a really great win for us, especially league and post-season play, if we are lucky. I after last week,” said Polansky, who will look think that is just a great step forward, proving to keep the Tigers on the winning track as they that we are getting better everyday. It shows that host Hofstra on December 5 before playing at all of our hard work in practice is paying off.” —Bill Alden

FA M I LY L AW Dear Scott and the SG crew: Hurricane Sandy never laid a glove on the Daley household, thanks to you. When you installed our whole-house backup generator earlier this fall, we raved to everyone about how professionally you had gone about the entire process. Ever since installation, the system has faithfully turned itself on and tested itself for five minutes every Wednesday afternoon at 1pm, as expected. But we did not expect your call two days before Sandy hit to instruct us to go outside to double-check the system ourselves, since we were sure to need it, saying you’d be right over if it didn’t display its readiness for action. And we certainly did not expect to see you walking through our yard on Tuesday, at the height of Sandy’s howling winds, to personally inspect the system and preclude any malfunction. And the last thing we expected was to find you back in our yard Friday, right after power returned, to top up the machine’s oil and prepare the system for any needed resumption of duty. We think your service perfectly defines “exceeding customer expectations”, and we want the world to know it. Gratefully, Eliot & Patti Daley, Princeton, NJ

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Issue: December 5, 2012