Another wild and wacky weekend in the Ivy League began for the Tigers in the recently friendly confines of Levien Gym at Columbia. The typical back and forth of the first half quickly gave way to a Tiger offensive outburst turning a close game into something of a rout. Spurred by super-sub Ben Hazel’s second-half heroics, the Tigers cruised to a relatively easy 74-62 victory. A Harvard win in New Haven on Saturday together with the anticipated Tiger success over a demoralized Cornell quintet reeling from Penn’s come-from-behind victory would create a three-way race for the Ivy title with Princeton very much a contender. The Crimson did their part, but the Tigers self-destructed in Ithaca.
PRINCETON, N.J. – The Tigers’ Saturday night win over a travel-weary Dartmouth squad made the weekend a qualified success. Last year’s 0-4 Ivy start squelched the Tigers’ title hopes, casting their 8-2 finish as a clear case of “too little, too late.” But at 2-1 now, Princeton’s destiny remains within its control.
A year ago, Harvard snapped a losing streak at Jadwin that reached back 23 seasons. The historic win, 59-47, was made even more impressive by the fact that senior three-point specialist Laurent Rivard was held scoreless for the only time in his distinguished career by the Tigers’ Rookie of the Year, Spencer Weisz. Rivard was on hand to watch his successor, Corbin Miller, come off the bench to torch the Tigers for 19 points including five three-pointers in the first half. Miller’s fireworks spurred the Crimson to a 39-29 lead at the half. Wesley Saunders, with a lot of help from Jonah Travis and Siyani Chambers, made the lead stand up in the hard-fought 75-72 Harvard win. Travis contributed 14 from the bench, giving the Crimson 33 from non-starters.
Our Richard Kent caught up with Princeton women’s basketball coach Courtney Banghart, who has led the Tigers to the NCAA tournament in four of the last five years, making Princeton the gold standard of women’s hoops in the Ancient Eight during that stretch. While Princeton relinquished the Ivy crown to Penn last year, the Tigers are back with a vengeance so far in 2014-15, currently boasting a 15-0 record with an average margin of 25.5 points per victory. After the jump, check out what Banghart had to say about the prospect of starting up new in-state rivalries with Rutgers and Seton Hall, her team’s recent visit to the White House and much more.
The Tigers got what they needed last night at Jadwin: a struggling team on the road. The lopsided matchup resulted in a 77-54 Princeton win in a game dominated by the home team almost from the first tap. Senior designated shooter Clay Wilson had a holiday party for himself, canning five three-pointers and four free throws for a game and career high 19 points.
Amir Bell, the Tigers’ heralded freshman point guard, played perhaps his best overall game, leading the Tigers in minutes played (34) and assists (five), while adding 11 points and two steals. Best of all, he kept his personal fouls to a manageable three. Many observers believe Bell may hold the key to the Tigers’ success in league play, especially if he can continue to score in double figures every night.
One ominous note – senior captain Denton Koon was not on the bench, although nothing official has been released by the basketball office. An October knee injury sidelined the versatile 6-foot-8 Missouri native whose status going forward is now doubtful at best.
The Tigers put out the welcome mat for Liberty on Monday evening before taking a break for Christmas.
Princeton played its best half of the season at California Saturday evening, shooting a sizzling 62 percent from the field, including 8-for-14 from three-point range, to lead 37-28 at intermission.
The second half was far more typical of the Tigers’ season, however, as the Golden Bears stepped up the defensive pressure and unleashed NBA prospect Tyrone Wallace, who scored 20 of his game-high 23 points after the break. The game was closer than the final score (67-57) suggests.
Terrific ball movement gave the Tigers numerous open shots early in the game. Four different players accounted for the first seven shots, all good, giving the Tigers a lead that reached 11 points.
Princeton turned a nine-point first-half lead into a 14-point deficit at the end of last night’s clunker in Jersey City. Desi Washington, the Peacocks’ leading scorer, returned after missing eight games due to a wrist injury. Washington dominated this one, scoring 18 to lead both teams in the 60-46 St. Peter’s victory. Although tied at the half at 25, the Peacocks (4-6) seized control early in the second stanza in what must have been an eerie reminder to the Tigers (3-7) of their second half meltdown last week at FDU. The Tigers now face their second West Coast trip in less two weeks as they head to Berkeley to face California this weekend. Probably won’t be a happy flight … in either direction.
PRINCETON, N.J. – On a night when the Ivy League generally beat up on the America East Conference, Princeton did its part, besting the Stony Brook Seawolves at Jadwin in the Tigers’ return home after almost two weeks on the road. A little home cooking was just what the Tigers needed, especially after Wednesday’s disaster Fairleigh Dickinson.
The storyline for Saturday, a come-from-behind 77-64 victory, starts with a formula developed when we began to keep score in basketball: Find the guy with the hot hand and keep getting him the ball. Steven Cook, the rangy Tiger sophomore from Winnetka, Ill., was that guy.
Cook scored a career-high 28 points, doubling his previous best, shooting 5-for-7 from three point territory. He added an impressive seven steals, mostly from the top of the Tigers’ 1-3-1 zone, a total exceeded only one time in the last 40 seasons.
“You are what your record says you are.” – Bill Parcells
Princeton’s record says “we are not very good.”
Unable to hold an eight-point lead at the half last night at Fairleigh Dickinson, the Tigers surrendered an unfathomable 64 second-half points, losing to the Knights, 89-85. In one eight-minute stretch in the second period, the teams combined for 29 points, 25 of which were entered in FDU’s ledger.
Very few people have had a stronger impact on Princeton basketball than Gary Walters, who served as his alma mater’s athletic director for 20 years before retiring earlier this year and was a point guard for the Tigers from 1964-67. He was starting point guard on Princeton’s 1964-65 Final Four Team, and we caught up with the Ford Family Athletic Director Emeritus to ask him about his memories of that legendary squad for its 50th anniversary.
Although the Tigers went 1-2 in the Wooden Legacy tournament, Mitch Henderson believes his young team made progress on the West Coast trip.
“[Freshman point guard] Amir Bell is settling into the position, showing a better understanding of what we expect from him and getting more comfortable in each game,” Henderson said.
Bell’s work in the tournament earned him Ivy Rookie of the Week recognition in Big Apple Buckets’ Ivy weekly roundup. The rapidly maturing freshman, cast as “the heir apparent to T. J. Bray,” averaged 11 points per game in Anaheim and, impressively, committed only one turnover in the three games. Henderson said that he was pleased with how freshman center Alec Brennan responded while getting significant minutes in the Golden State. Sophomore Henry Caruso from San Mateo, Cal., came off the bench in each game to spark several Tiger rallies. His 15 points in 20 minutes against UTEP in the opener on Thanksgiving afternoon led all Tigers.