Tiger basketball fans got a rare opportunity to watch both their men’s and women’s teams in a doubleheader Sunday. The women continued their amazing start with a 40-point thrashing of New Hampshire, 77-37. The Tigers’ Player of the Year candidate Bella Alarie enjoyed her 37th career double double with 18 points and 11 rebounds in just 21 minutes. Earlier this week the Tigers reached the USA Today Top 25 and received seven votes in the AP rankings. The Ivy slate opens on January 11 at The Palestra.
The men renewed their rivalry with Lehigh of the Patriot League, suffering a rare down season under the tutelage of Dr. Brett Reed. The Tigers pretty much controlled things in the first half. Trailing once by a single point and leading by double digits through most of the opening period. Tiger skipper Mitch Henderson was obviously relieved that his club avoided digging itself into an early hole, as has been the recent case. The half ended with the home team leading by nine.
Through 12 minutes of the second period the Tigers continued what was unfolding as a workmanlike effort against a team it figured to beat, if not easily, at least decisively. And then, with the Tigers enjoying a 10-point lead with 8:10 left, a strange thing, in a season of strange things, occurred that had observers wondering if the Tigers had found a way to lose another one. Richmond Aririguzoh committed his third personal on a Mountain Hawk shooter. Thinking he had made a clean block (a reasonable conclusion to several courtside onlookers), the redoubtable Tiger big man compounded the felony with an almost unimaginable outburst of emotion. Had he chosen one of the five languages other than English in which he is fluent to describe the error of the referee’s ways he might have survived the incident. Alas, the official understood all too well what RA was suggesting. The resulting technical foul, now the fourth personal, sent RA to the bench and the Mountain Hawks to the charity stripe for four attempts. Naturally, they made all four, turning an easy Tiger win into a struggle.
Over the next three minutes the Tiger offense stalled, while Lehigh gathered itself for a run. A layup and two more free throws drew Lehigh within two with lots of time, more than five minutes remaining.
Tiger sparkplug Jose Morales then made what turned out to be a game-saving steal, one of 10 for the home team on the evening. A moment later Ryan Schwieger drove the lane for a resounding dunk, restoring the lead to four with 4:43 to go. A Drew Friberg steal, one of his team-high five, got the Tigers to a media timeout, enabling Henderson to get RA back on the floor. When play resumed Jaelin Llewellyn found Schwieger open for a long three-point attempt. He made it, was fouled and made the free throw. The four-point play effectively put the game out of reach for the visitors.
Final score: 71-62. Princeton finally got a home win in the final game of the decade. The Tigers finished their out-of-conference schedule winning three of four and now head to The Palestra on Saturday on a high note.
RA’s 23 points, one short of his career high, led the way for Princeton. Llewellyn (12), Schwieger (12) and Friberg (11) gave the Tigers four double-digit scorers.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!