Princeton’s studs shine under the Palestra lights

Mike Tony’s excellent breakdown of Saturday night’s Penn-Princeton collision leaves little left unsaid, but let me add some comments from the Tiger perspective for the sake of context.

No one expected either team to dominate the other, although the early line favored the Quakers by 10. As game time approached a lot of people grabbed the points moving the line to seven or less by tip-off.

Shockingly, the score was tied on only two occasions in the first three minutes. From that point on Penn managed to get within four just once, with 3:48 remaining in the first period. Schwieger then found another gear, canning eight of his career-high 27 in the closing moments of the first half. A Jaelin Llewellyn three-pointer helped as well, as the Tigers ran the lead from four to 12, 39-27, at the end of the half.

The second half was interesting for what did not happen. Penn appeared to make few if any adjustments on defense, electing to match up man-to-man. What didn’t work then didn’t work now.

As a result, the Tigers built upon their early success, getting the ball inside to RA and by allowing Schwieger to post up down low, backing his defender to the basket for a number of close-in looks. The two Tiger studs shot 16-for-26, the majority coming from six feet or less. Princeton scored a season-high 52 “points in the paint.” Add the 18 free throws and the two three pointers and you account for 76 of Princeton’s 78. Truly, the mid-range jumper is no longer an attractive scoring option.

By the 6:37 mark of the second half the Tiger lead reached 21 at 69-48. The Quakers, as expected, gathered themselves for a final run to defend their building. A 10-0 run over the next three minutes cut the lead to 11, but the Tigers now had time on their side.

Although Princeton failed to make a field goal in the closing six and a half minutes, the Quakers were forced to launch several unsuccessful three-point efforts and foul. On this night, at least, the Tigers shot an admirable 18-for-23 from the free throw line to hold the Quakers at bay.  The final margin was 14.

RA enhanced his resume with another great game against AJ Brodeur. He now has filed three solid performances against the Quakers’ Player of the Year candidate, all Tiger wins. His 15 points and 10 rebounds gave him another double-double, his fourth on the season.

Llewellyn sat for only 18 seconds, a telling stat in assessing his importance in coach Mitch Henderson’s scheme. He too managed a glittering double-double with 18 points and a phenomenal 14 rebounds.

Ryan Schwieger’s 27 points were compiled on a very efficient 10-for-16 effort from the field.

One senses that next Friday’s return engagement at Jadwin will play out much differently.  The Tigers can look ahead with a degree of confidence that appeared out of range yesterday afternoon. Few Ivy teams can go into a game with Penn knowing that they can pretty much hold their own against Brodeur. RA gives the Tigers that knowledge.

Stay tuned. Ivy hostilities are underway …


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