Penn-Princeton doubleheader yields two thrillers at Jadwin Gym

Saturday’s Penn-Princeton doubleheader at Jadwin Gym was full of highs and lows for both Ps, as the two games featured a combined 12 lead changes (seven for the men, five for the women) and a split for each school.

Women: Penn 66, Princeton 60

Penn avoided dropping four straight to Princeton, which had capped its Ivy League championship season a year ago with a 63-34 drubbing of Penn at the Palestra in the conference tournament final, by flipping the script with its stifling 2-3 zone early and late.

Penn (9-2, 1-0 Ivy) overcame a 44-39 deficit entering the fourth quarter by clamping down at the defensive end and getting clutch scoring from Phoebe Sterba, who finished the game with 21 points on 6-for-9 shooting (5-for-7 from three-point range), including four free throws in the final 15 seconds that clinched the game for the visitors.

Princeton (8-8, 0-1) lost despite an Ivy Player of the Year-caliber performance from the reigning player in that category, Bella Alarie, who anchored the Tigers offensively and defensively en route to 21 points, 17 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Carlie Littlefield and Gabrielle Rush took advantage of Penn’s zone from deep at times, going a combined 6-for-17 from three-point land.

But Penn reclaimed the lead for good by breaking a 52-52 tie with back-to-back fastbreak buckets from Michae Jones and Sterba with just over three minutes left. Penn built a 61-54 lead with 54 seconds left after an Ashley Russell free throw, but back-to-back threes by Littlefield and Rush trimmed Penn’s lead to 61-60 with 25 seconds remaining. A 1-for-2 trip to the foul line by Penn’s Kendall Grasela gave Princeton the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead with a three-pointer, but a drive to the hoop by Littlefield resulted in a shot too strong with 18 seconds to go and a defensive board from Eleah Parker allowed Sterba to put the game away from the foul line.

Parker was an imposing defensive presence, registering five blocks and two steals to go with her 14 points and seven rebounds. Princess Aghayere notched 12 points (all in the first half) and 12 rebounds in 32 minutes for Penn as well.

Unlike the Princeton and Penn men, these two squads won’t square off again until Tues., Feb. 26 at the Palestra. The Quakers next face Big 5 rival Villanova, who they beat on the road last season, on Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Palestra. With their fall exams coming up later this month, the Tigers don’t have another game until a road weekend back-to-back at Columbia and Cornell on Feb. 1-2.

Men: Princeton 68, Penn 65 (OT)

Princeton’s standout scorers Jaelin Llewellyn and Devin Cannady combined to shoot 1-for-12 from three-point range while the Tigers surprisingly shot worse from the foul line than their opponents, all while Penn’s AJ Brodeur pierced the Tiger defense inside for 18 points and 15 rebounds (four offensive).

But Princeton still won, reversing its trend from last Ivy season of routinely snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Winning the day for Princeton (8-5, 1-0) was junior forward Richmond Aririguzoh, who notched a career-high 20 points on 9-for-13 shooting and seven rebounds in 35 minutes.

Penn (10-5, 0-1) mustered just three points in the extra period, suffering its third straight loss and second consecutive overtime defeat even after having jumped out to a 19-10 lead less than seven minutes into the game.

Penn got the ball down 66-65 with 20 seconds left after a Llewellyn pass intended for Cannady went out of bounds. But Devon Goodman shot in the paint rolled off the rim with 10 seconds left and a Jerome Desrosiers defensive rebound allowed fellow sophomore Sebastian Much to add two points from the foul line to Princeton’s lead. A subsequent Goodman three-pointer rimmed out, allowing Princeton to hold on for the win.

The Red and Blue had to rally late in the second half to force overtime, facing a 59-51 deficit with 4:32 to play. Three Goodman layups in the next two minutes slimmed Princeton’s lead to 61-57, and following a field goal in the paint by Antonio Woods, a Goodman three gave Penn a 62-61 lead with 56 seconds left in regulation. Much went 1-for-2 from the foul line during the ensuing possession following a Brodeur foul in the post. Penn’s chance to win the game in regulation ended when Goodman dribbled the ball off his foot and out of bounds. Llewellyn missed a jumper near the elbow with two seconds left to usher in overtime.

The game featured physical defense from both teams that helped make the evening a tough one for shooting. Still, both teams couldn’t convert on a lot of open looks either. Penn shot just 5-for-20 from deep while Princeton shot 6-for-25.

Myles Stephens snared a career-high 16 rebounds, including six on the offensive end, and registered two blocks, pushing Princeton to its third straight tight win (outscoring opponents by a combined six points during that stretch).

Having been swept by Penn a season ago, Princeton avoided losing three straight to Penn for the first time in a decade.

Penn welcomed back Max Rothschild and Michael Wang from absence due to injury, and Rothschild notched six rebounds, three assists and three points in 29 minutes. Wang’s impact was more limited, as the standout rookie posted just four points on 1-for-6 shooting in 16 minutes upon his return from an ankle injury sustained in a loss to Toledo on Dec. 29.

Penn, which trailed 33-32 at halftime, committed 15 turnovers to Princeton’s eight.

For the first time since 1915, Penn and Princeton will play back-to-back regular season games. They’ll meet at the Palestra next Saturday at 2 p.m.

3 thoughts on “Penn-Princeton doubleheader yields two thrillers at Jadwin Gym”

  1. Here are some thoughts about the men’s game from the perspective of a Princeton fan. First, I think we can all agree this was a game that Princeton would have lost last year. It was hugely important for Princeton to find a way to win a game like this, even if that meant relying to some degree on missed Penn free throws. Second, I felt Princeton won the game by playing tenacious defense for the final three quarters of the game. In the first 10 minutes, it looked like Penn was going to win easily as the Quakers were getting any shot they wanted (and usually making them). But Princeton’s defense stiffened and forced the Quakers into tougher shots for most of the rest of the game. Although Brodeur led the Quakers in scoring, he got most of his 18 points in the first half. The Tigers did a great job forcing him a few extra feet away from the basket in the second half, which made it harder for him to score. Princeton also won the turnover battle by a decent margin (8-15), which I thought was a significant factor today. Kudos to Penn’s defense down the stretch. They turned up the intensity and forced Princeton into empty possessions on 5 of 6 possessions during a key stretch starting at about the 5-minute mark. In fact, Princeton scored only 3 points during the final 5 minutes of regulation, which allowed Penn to erase an 8-point Princeton lead. Penn simply wouldn’t let the Tigers get a good look during that stretch. Kudos also to Myles Stephens, who had a huge game today off the bench. (Will that be a role he plays going forward, ala Amir Bell in 2016?). Stephens played great defense and was a beast on the boards with a personal best 16 boards. The disparity in bench production stands out in this game. Princeton got 21 points from its bench (11 by Stephens) compared to only 7 for Penn. Finally, I think we officially witnessed today the arrival of Richard Aririguzoh as a force to be reckoned with in the Ivy League. He still lacks the polish of a player like Brodeur, but he was clearly the MVP of the game and once again provided critical points in crunch time, including 2 clutch free throws with 5 minutes to go in regulation. Overall, as a Tigers fan, I am ecstatic about the win even if it was ugly down the stretch. I think both Penn and Princeton fans can agree that we need to have a strong and balanced rivalry to bring out the best in each other. I expect next Saturday’s game to be another intense and entertaining clash. Go Tigers!

  2. Great and critical win for the Tigers. Very aggravating following the game here in Mexico as ESPN+ does not broadcast outside of US. So, waiting for the stat update provides extra tension. What’s the deal with Llewellyn? Is he injured?

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