November 23 may be remembered as a watershed date in the basketball seasons of the Princeton Tigers and the Penn Quakers.
After witnessing Lafayette’s smackdown of the Tigers just four days earlier on a night Princeton turned in its best half of offense so far this year, one felt safe predicting the Leopards would continue Penn’s dizzying slide into oblivion last evening. To the contrary, Penn’s tenacious performance in almost overcoming a 17-point deficit may have taught the Quakers they can play. Princeton’s underwhelming effort against the University of the Incarnate Word (you can’t make this up) may be a staggering blow to the Tigers’ already fragile psyche.
For some undisclosed reason, Princeton scheduled the game at 11:00 a.m. The Cardinals (the funny hat Cardinals, not the birds) journeyed to New Jersey from Texas and represent something called the Southland Conference. Hans Brase has played in Division I longer than UIW. Playing like they had never heard of Princeton the Cardinals raced out to a 17 point early lead. A 15-2 run enabled the Tigers to close to 31-27 at the half.
Princeton completed the comeback early in the second period to lead by five under the 14-minute mark. The Cardinals never lost their poise, however, managing 48 second-half points against the suddenly porous Tiger defense. The final score left Princeton on the short end: 79-68. Statistically, UIW won it at the free throw line, making 35 of an astounding 39 shots to the Tigers’ 22 of 29.
Hans Brase added another double-double to his stat sheet (10 points, 12 rebounds) while the always reliable Spencer Weisz set yet another career-high with 22 points. Freshman point guard Amir Bell had his best game of the still young season, scoring 13 in 28 minutes. His four personals are a career LOW! The real Steven Cook showed up for this one as the sophomore scored 14 points, grabbed seven rebounds and handed out three assists. Starter Ben Hazel and key reserve Clay Wilson combined to go 1-for-13 from the field. Ouch!!!
Penn found itself in an early 17 point hole against Lafayette, as expected. In a stunning reversal of form, inspired no doubt by the telepathic urgings of the AQ, the Quakers smartly outplayed one of the better Patriot League quintets in the second half at The Palestra. Closing to within two at 62-60 the Penn effort fell just a tad short as the Leopards held on for dear life, 83-77. Tony Hicks, turned in a performance at point guard that was, frankly, historic, setting a Penn record with 13 assists. Freshmen Mike Auger and Antonio Woods put a smile on the face of coach Jerome Allen, even in defeat. One suspects Penn will be heard from this year.
At Jadwin the morning affair drew an announced crowd of 1553, most of whom were disguised as empty seats.
On to California!