The Tigers capped off a hugely successful 12-day swing to the West Coast and beyond with a workmanlike 77-63 victory over the host Hawaii Rainbow Warriors Monday to conclude their their three games in the Diamond Head Classic. Only a two-point loss to Middle Tennessee State in the tourney opener marred the Tigers road trip record of 4-1. Princeton finished its out-of-conference schedule at 7-7.
The Tigers’ maturing defense harassed the Rainbows from the opening tipoff, enabling coach Mitch Henderson’s club to overcome a sputtering start on offense. The score was tied at 31 after 20 minutes.
Devin Cannady’s recent shooting woes continued through the first half as he was held to just two points at the break. Tiger fans expected the dam to break and, in the second stanza, it did. Sparked by Cannady’s 26 tallies in the second half the Tigers opened with a 12-2 run to take a 10 point lead with 14+ minutes to go. Victimized by erratic free-throw shooting, the Rainbows could get no closer than eight the rest of the way, trailing by as many as 16.
Cannady’s 28 points is a season high for him, as is his total of 12 made free throws. Shockingly, he missed four free throws, the first time in his college career that stat exceeded two in a game. He needs three points to become the latest member of the Tigers’ 1,000-point club, just midway through his junior year.
Henderson accomplished much of what he hoped to do in the out-of-conference. As expected, The Big Three are leading the way. Three of the freshmen have settled into key roles. Sebastian Much, in particular, has impressed with his willingness to step up in big spots with accurate shooting and deft passing. His dish to Myles Stephens at the buzzer against Akron is a season highlight.
Richmond Aririguzoh continues to improve steadily, justifying Henderson’s willingness to get him on the floor at any time. Aaron Young and Mike LeBlanc bring senior leadership off the bench. At the outset of the Ivy League season the Tiger ship is loaded and ready to leave the dock. We don’t know if Will Gladson will be on it.
Ten days off give the Tigers a lot of time to prepare for their Ivy debut on January 5. At No. 111 Princeton, sits atop the Ivy KenPom rankings, 27 spots ahead of their first Ivy opponent, the Penn Quakers. Can’t wait for Chapter 238 in the best rivalry of all!
Happy New Year to all!