PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) — It’s been a busy week of canceled games and long travel days for Texas coach Vic Schaefer and his Longhorns.
The No. 12 Longhorns crisscrossed the country playing in Las Vegas on Sunday and then New Jersey on Wednesday. Throw in some travel issues and the veteran coach is happy to have a few days off for the holidays. Especially after a 70-53 win over Princeton on Wednesday.
The Longhorns were supposed to face No. 4 Arizona on Sunday, but COVID issues in the Wildcats program canceled that game and left Texas scrambling for an opponent in Nevada. Fortunately, San Diego stepped up at the last minute.
“Our kids were disappointed when we didn’t get to play Arizona,” Schaefer said. “Then you can’t fly into New Jersey because the stairs are broken and the backup is broken (at the airport) and we had to fly to Philadelphia and bus here. We didn’t get to our hotel until 4 a.m. Monday.”
Schaefer had planned to take his team to New York to go to a Broadway show and have dinner, but with COVID running rampant he thought it would be best to just stay locally. Instead his team did a painting class where they made snowmen.
“My conscience wouldn’t let me do it,” Schaefer said of going to New York. “We stayed in our hotel for two days.”
Being thrown out of their normal routine may have accounted for the rough start against Princeton. The two programs combined to shoot 22 for 65 in the opening 20 minutes, including missing 14 of 15 3-point attempts. The Longhorns held a 32-21 halftime advantage.
Princeton (7-4) went on a 10-2 run to start the third quarter and trailed 41-36 before Texas (9-1) closed the period on a 9-3 spurt. Joanne Allen-Taylor had five points during the burst. The Tigers were able to get within 53-44 early in the fourth quarter before Texas scored nine straight to put the game away.
Allen-Taylor scored 18 points and Rori Harmon added 15 to lead the Longhorns.
This was the first meeting ever between the teams. Texas was just looking to fill out its non-conference schedule in the offseason and was content to play the Ivy League school.
“I think we both have trouble scheduling. They were willing to come out here. And we’ll go down there next year and we’re excited to do that,” Princeton coach Carla Berube said. “It was a great opportunity to welcome a top 20 team. It was a great game. I’m not OK losing by whatever it was. But we at least got the experience of playing against a big Power Five talented team and we were right there with them.”
Texas was missing sophomore forward Deyona Gaston, who had a double-double in the team’s last game on Sunday. Schaefer said she had been sick the last two days, but tested negative for the coronavirus
Abby Meyers scored 21 points to lead Princeton while Ellie Mitchell added 10 points and 16 rebounds — including 12 offensive. The Tigers outrebounded the Longhorns 41-31.
It’s been awhile
Texas was the highest ranked school to visit Princeton since No. 6 Rutgers in 2007. The last ranked team to come to Jadwin Gymnasium was No. 24 Delaware in 2011 when Elena Delle Donne starred for the Blue Hens. The Tigers already had a win over one ranked team this season, beating then-No. 22 Florida Gulf Coast 58-55 on Dec. 1. It was Princeton’s first win over a ranked team in 43 years.
Texas: Hosts Alcorn State next Wednesday before opening Big 12 play at Oklahoma State.
Princeton: Hosts Central Florida next Wednesday before opening Ivy play against Harvard.