The Tigers claimed one of the four slots available in the Ivy League Tournament with a 71-49 thrashing of the Brown Bears in Providence last night. The key to the win was a signature defensive effort reminiscent of some of the best Tiger teams in the long and illustrious history of the program.
Princeton focused on the Bears’ formidable “Big Three” of Brandon Anderson, Zach Hunsaker and Tameneng Choh, holding the talented trio to a combined 33 points on 12-for-39 shooting from the field. No other Bear player scored more than six.
The game did not start out as a Tiger rout. Brown jumped out to a 5-0 early lead, but two Jaelin Llewellyn threes restored order after five minutes. Jerome Desrosiers and Drew Friberg came off the bench to spark a 9-0 Tiger surge giving the visitors an 18-10 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the opening period. Later, Desrosiers would feature prominently in a 13-0 Tiger run leading to a 40-28 halftime advantage.
Drew Friberg continued his hot streak in the second half. His long three at the 17:05 mark maintained the 12-point Tiger lead, but sparked a 14-0 run to put the game away. With eight minutes left and the score 56-33, Princeton coach Mitch Henderson was able to reach far down the bench.
The typically wild weekend road trip to Boston and Hanover is over, and the Tigers survived with one of their goals, a berth in Ivy Madness, well within their grasp. We may well look back on this trip as the time Jaelin Llewellyn’s total game was on display at an absolutely crucial juncture for his team. Recognizing the need to step up in the absence of Ryan Schwieger, Llewellyn courageously embraced the challenge and, to put it mildly, delivered.
On Friday at Harvard, Llewellyn almost single-handedly kept the Tigers in the game to the last seconds, leading the scoring with 22 points. If he has had a weakness this season, it has been his inefficiency from deep. He takes more three-pointers than anyone else, but came into the weekend converting an unacceptable 25%. His 21 points on Saturday night gave the Tigers the spark they needed, and included 5-for-7 from beyond the arc. The final score, 65-62 Princeton, tells very little about the game.
Princeton and Harvard have matched up quite evenly this season. Each team has scored the same number of points as the other and, after last night’s contest at Lavietes Pavilion, each has a one point win at home. The rubber match, if it happens, will also take place at Lavietes during the Ivy League Tournament next month.
Last evening’s affair, while hardly an aesthetic success, was an intense, physical battle that was not resolved until the final buzzer sounded on a 61-60 Harvard victory.
The Tigers were minus starting forward Ryan Schwieger due to illness. His status for tonight’s game at Dartmouth is unknown. Jaelin Llewellyn picked up the scoring slack for Princeton, exploding for 14 of the first 16 points and a total of 17 for the half.
Princeton made a nice five-minute run late in the half to grab a nine-point lead. Stubbornly, the Crimson clawed back to cut the Tigers’ margin to 34-30 at the half.
Both teams ramped up the defensive pressure in the second half. Mason Forbes, in particular, stepped for the Crimson as Chris Lewis spent more than half the game on the bench. Forbes did a great job defending the paint, contributing seven rebounds and 11 points in 22 minutes.
The Tigers enjoyed a nice bounceback effort against the Columbia Lions Sunday afternoon in New York. Suffering no ill effects from a desultory outing in Ithaca, five Princeton players reached double figures, led by Jaelin Llewellyn (19) and Ryan Schwieger (18), in an 81-74 victory at Levien Gym.
Richmond Aririguzoh made an emphatic statement for the visitors with 16 points and a team-high four assists, after suffering his worst performance of the season against Cornell. Using his great strength effectively, the senior made eight shots in nine attempts.
Jerome Desrosiers and Drew Friberg continued their excellent bench contributions with 10 and 11 points respectively, combining to make nine buckets in 14 attempts.
The Lions (6-16, 1-5 Ivy) quickly gained the lead at 5-0. Fears that the Tigers (10-9, 5-1) might dig themselves into a deep hole as they did the previous day were quickly dispelled by RA. It took the Tigers nearly eight minutes to claim their first lead but after they finally did on a Friberg three-point play, they would not relinquish it for the balance of the afternoon.
The lead was eight at the half. The Tigers managed double-digit leads in the second stanza, but Mike Smith almost single-handedly kept the Lions’ hope alive. The league’s leading scorer burnished his All-Ivy credentials with 30 points, canning 14 buckets in 25 tries.
The Tigers shot 55% from the field and a most satisfying 17-for-18 from the charity stripe. Llewellyn drove to the basket repeatedly drawing fouls in the process. He was a perfect 10-for-10 from the line.
The weekend split matched Yale’s record sending the Ivy co-leaders into a crucial showdown at Jadwin Gym Friday night. Brown’s weekend sweep keeps its title hopes aflame heading into the weekend against the Ps.
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.
Coming out of the last of the historic three-week schedule interruptions required by the antiquated Princeton academic schedule, coach Mitch Henderson, as usual, did not know what to expect from his team.
Three years ago, Dartmouth on the road awaited the Tigers after the break. The Big Green were more than ready for the sluggish, rusty Princeton squad, who might have been looking ahead to the next evening’s matchup with Harvard. In any event the Tigers in Hanover went to the locker room at halftime trailing for the first and only time that Ivy season. Only a heroic second half effort by Player of the Year Spencer Weisz saved the Tigers that night en route to a 16-0 record against Ivy competition.
It feels like déjà vu all over again.
For the second year in a row, the Princeton men’s basketball team is emerging from its exam break at the top of the Ivy League standings and looking primed to make a run for an Ivy League title after sweeping arch rival Penn in back-to-back games to open the conference season.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Exactly one year ago, the 2018-19 Tigers stood in exactly the same position. That Princeton squad of a year ago started conference play by sweeping Penn in back-to-back games and then beating the New York schools on the road to start the Ivy campaign at 4-0. Hopes of an Ivy League title began to rise until calamity struck and Princeton lost the services of one of its transcendent stars, Devin Cannady. Without their senior co-captain, the Tigers slumped through the rest of the Ivy season, losing six of their final 10 regular season games and finishing a disappointing third in the conference standings.