Princeton men make just enough shots when they need to versus Harvard

Saturday night in the Ivy League … you just never know!

The Tigers canned 13 three-pointers Saturday evening against the visiting Harvard Crimson. They needed every one of them, plus two Richmond Aririguzoh free throws with 3.9 seconds to go, to hold off the relentless Crimson, 70-69, before the largest home crowd in recent memory.

Princeton (9-8, 4-0 Ivy) raced out of the blocks, perhaps sensing that Harvard (13-6, 2-2) might be a little sluggish after an overtime affair in Penn’s steamy Palestra Friday night. Flexing their three-point muscles early, the Tigers got six threes from four different players to take a 31-17 lead at the 8:44 mark of the first period.

At that point, the Tiger offense sputtered almost to a stop, giving the feisty Crimson an opportunity to close the gap. And close the gap they did. Noah Kirkwood, who appears to be embracing his status as Harvard’s “go-to guy,” and senior big man Chris Lewis spurred  a Crimson surge resulting in a 12-2 run to close out the first half. The Tigers could manage just one Jaelin Llewellyn two-pointer in the final eight minutes. Ominously, RA went to the free throw line three times in this stretch but came up empty. The Tigers’ 14-point lead shrank to four, 33-29, at the break.

Things went swimmingly for the home club to start the second half. Finding the going very tough inside thanks to Harvard’s imposing front line, Princeton was able to kick out for a number of wide open three-point looks. In a happy repeat of their first-half success, four different Tigers found the range from beyond the arc, this time making seven in the opening 13 minutes.

Holding the Crimson pretty well in check, Princeton restored a double digit advantage, 48-38, after seven minutes. A gorgeous RA feed to Jerome Desrosiers for a two-handed dunk gave the Tigers a 12-point lead, 59-47, with nine minutes to go. Having come back in the first half already, Harvard was not going away easily. Lewis and company cut the lead to five at 59-54. Drew Friberg’s long three, the Tigers’ final one of the evening, pushed the margin up to eight.

RA and Chris Lewis traded layups making the score 64-56 with six and a half minutes remaining. The Tigers would not score from the field again. In fact, neither team would score over the next two minutes. RA did make two free throws to put the Tigers up by 10 at the 4:22 mark.

A Lewis layup ended the Crimson drought a minute later. The Crimson, of course, came storming back. In the next two minutes, Harvard scored seven points while the Tigers could manage only an Ethan Wright free throw.  Schwieger made one of two from the charity stripe to make the score 68-65 with 41 seconds remaining. Four Harvard free throws, two by Christian Juzang and two by Kirkwood with 15 seconds left brought the Crimson all the way back to a 69-68 lead.

The Tigers headed upcourt determined to get the ball to RA down low. They did, but RA’s point-blank effort was blocked by Chris Lewis. RA grabbed his fifth offensive board of the evening and went up again. This time Justin Bassey was whistled for a foul. RA calmly swished both two put the Tigers back in the lead, 70-69. The clock read 3.9.

When a Crimson desperation three missed its mark, the Tigers held on to secure a most important home win. Princeton sits on top of the Ivy standings, tied with the Yale Bulldogs.

Wright was once again outstanding. For 32 minutes of work, the sophomore compiled a very impressive stat line: 5-for-8 from the field (4-for-5 from deep), four rebounds, three steals and only one turnover. RA added 10 points and seven rebounds. Jerome Desrosiers enjoyed his best night of the season, scoring 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the field (3-for-3 from beyond the arc) in just 17 minutes.  Drew Friberg and Jose Morales each canned two bombs. Overall, the Tigers made 25 of 53 shots, 13 of 23 from deep, assisted on 14 shots and turned the ball over a manageable nine times.

Next up for the Tigers is a weekend on the road, first to Cornell Friday, then the all-night bus ride to Columbia.

 

1 thought on “Princeton men make just enough shots when they need to versus Harvard”

  1. I offer these thoughts about the game:
    1. This was a huge win for Princeton, the Tigers’ first win over Harvard in nearly 3 years. The Tigers simply had to have this win if they hope to win the regular season league title. And let’s face it: Winning the regular season league title remains the highest priority for our program every single year.
    2. The match-up down low between Chris Lewis and Richmond Aririguzoh was epic — a true heavyweight bout between two of the best big men in the Ivy League. In my mind, RA won the match by decision with his muscular play under the basket in the final seconds and then his clutch FT shooting to score the winning points.
    3. Jaelin Llewelyn was bailed out by RA’s clutch free throw shooting. Llewelyn missed the front end of TWO separate one-and-ones in the final minutes of the game, including a critical miss in the final minute that allowed Harvard to take the lead with only a handful of ticks left on the clock. Although JL’s free throw shooting has greatly improved this season, his misses in crunch time on Saturday night showed that free throw shooting is still an achilles heel for this budding superstar.
    4. Jerome Desrosiers was the unsung hero in this game. He scored 11 points in only 17 minutes. No way Princeton wins without his terrific performance. Something tells me we will see him playing more minutes as the season wears on.
    5. The sung hero was Ethan Wright, who led Princeton not only with his outstanding shooting, but also his athletic rebounding. Wright led Princeton in scoring, three point shooing, and defensive rebounds. Overall, he turned in a pretty good impression of Devin Cannady on Saturday night.
    6. To my eyes, these teams looked evenly matched. I realize that’s an obvious thing to say in a game decided by one point; but beyond the score, the teams just looked about even to me. Another way of putting this is to say that Princeton appears to be on an even level with Harvard in terms of pure talent for the first time in a few years. Or course, Harvard is missing key players this season, but Princeton has had similar issues in past years. The big difference right now is experience. Harvard has more of it and that gives them the edge on paper.
    7. A thought about the final play. I thought the refs missed a blatant foul by Bassey (or was it Kirkwood?) who threw Evbuomwan to the floor as he sped up the court after making the inbounds pass on what looked to be a designed give and go play. By the way, credit to Coach Henderson who seemed to know that was Harvard’s play. He frantically coached Tosan to energetically follow the inbounding passer, which he did. There was a chance for a real travesty had Juzang made that desperation three at the buzzer. The refs didn’t call the obvious foul committed on Evbuomwan and got bailed out when Juzang’s shot didn’t go.
    8. Can anybody beat Yale? KenPom has the Eli winning out and going 14-0 in league play.
    Go Tigers!

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