Princeton’s roller-coaster regular season ended in calamity this weekend. In a season of ups and downs, the Tigers saved their worst for last, losing back-to-back games in convincing fashion at home to Brown and Yale. After surrendering an astounding 25 turnovers to Brown on Friday night, the Tigers completely collapsed on Senior Night, losing by 22 points on Saturday to Yale, 81-59. It was the most lopsided loss by a Princeton team at home to Yale in program history.
Seeing it through
Brown notched an outstanding 67-63 win at Jadwin Gym, hanging on after nearly surrendering a 60-47 lead with 2:17 left. Brandon Anderson was the best player on the floor off the bench, posting 21 points and three steals in just 28 minutes, his trips to the foul line and jumpers setting back the Tigers any time they got even a modicum of momentum. Brown’s defense shut Princeton down early and often, holding the Tigers to 0.79 points per possession and collecting a whopping 25 turnovers from the hosts.
With a record of 7-3, the Tigers headed to New England for the Dartmouth-Harvard trip needing a win on the weekend to punch its ticket to Ivy Madness. The fact that the Tigers’ record against their four remaining opponents contained all three of those losses and only one of the wins was a matter of grave concern to the Tiger staff. The lone win was a 69-68 nail-biter in Jadwin against the Friday foe, Dartmouth’s Big Green.
The staff itself suffered an unexpected loss when its head coach was unable to answer the bell in Hanover. Mitch Henderson was forced to scurry from the floor just prior to tip-off, suffering from what we shall describe as “flu-like symptoms.”
The Tigers’ 79-61 defeat of the Columbia Lions last night was the hardest-fought “blowout” I have ever seen.
The Lions, arriving at Jadwin after a stunning upset at The Palestra, had their sights set upon the rare road sweep of what used to be known as “The Killer Ps.” The back-and-forth play in the first half indicated the winner of this game was going to earn it.
With about a minute and a half to go in the first half, a long three from Jerome Desrosiers, the Tigers’ sixth of the opening period, broke a 29-29 tie. Fifteen seconds later, a Desrosiers steal resulted in two free throws by freshman Max Johns, sending the Tigers into intermission leading, 34-29. Princeton coach Mitch Henderson liked what he was seeing on both ends of the floor but knew he was in another typical Ivy League scrap.
As a followup to Mike Tony’s excellent summary of last night’s Ivy League skirmishes, I offer some takeaways from the Tigers’ hard-fought win against Cornell at Jadwin Gym.
Eight thoughts on the men’s side:
1. Columbia was due
Columbia hadn’t won an Ivy road game since its very first under Jim Engles at Cornell on Jan. 14, 2017: 17 such games ago. The Lions were 3-8 in games decided by one possession this season, including a 72-70 loss to Penn at Levien Gym three weeks prior, and were 4-20 in games decided by six points or fewer dating back to the start of last season. So when Maka Ellis’s stunningly easy layup off an inbound pass went in with 0.4 seconds left in overtime to clinch the 79-77 win for the Lions at the Palestra, it was a long overdue coup de grâce for a program that had long been far more competitive under Engles than its win-loss column showed. Kudos to Gabe Stefanini for coming up just two rebounds shy of a triple-double (20 points, 10 assists, eight boards) and Ellis for pitching in five of his 14 points in the final 1:24 in overtime as a rookie on the road to erase Penn’s 77-72 lead at that point.
In the latest episode of Inside Ivy Hoops, Ivy Hoops Online editor Mike Tony is joined by Yale coach Allison Guth and IHO writer George Clark.
Mike and George reflect on last weekend’s Ivy matchups, including a weekend to remember for the Princeton men and women, and also look ahead to a full slate of league games this weekend – including what appear to be several must-wins already:
Coach Guth walks Mike through the sequence leading up to Roxy Barahman’s buzzer-beating, game-winning three-pointer just past mid-court versus Harvard Friday, breaks down the reasoning behind adopting a pack-line defense this season, reflects on the development of Barahman and emergence of first-year standout Camilla Emsbo, discusses a scheduling committee’s ongoing review of Ivy back-to-back weekends and much more:
Sometimes you need a fiber prescriber, so Mike talks about Flannel Night:
Despite a comparatively quiet night from Matt Morgan, the Cornell Big Red were able to overcome a 10-point second half hole to force overtime against the visiting Princeton Tigers.
But unlike last season at Newman Arena, Cornell couldn’t put the Tigers away in extra time, as Princeton won its seventh straight game to improve to 12-5 (4-0 Ivy) and remain first in the conference, while Cornell dropped back to .500 at 10-10 (2-2) and still very much in the Ivy Madness picture.
The Tigers entered their annual three-week winter exam break riding an emotional wave. Five straight wins following the expected wipeout at Duke, including two stunning wins over Big 5 champion Penn, catapulted the Tigers to the top of the Ivy heap at 2-0. Princeton coach Mitch Henderson hoped that the layoff would not impact the Tigers’ momentum facing the first two back-to-backs on the road.
Princeton’s customary post-holiday exam break normally passes quietly and uneventfully for the men’s and women’s basketball teams as the Tigers play no games for more than two weeks while the rest of the college basketball world shifts into high gear for conference play.
This year, a stunning development marred the exam break with the news that senior co-captain Devin Cannady had been suspended from the team for a violation of team rules. The University has remained tight-lipped about Cannady’s status, making no announcements about when or whether Cannady will return to the team. In what perhaps is an indication that the Princeton sharpshooter may be allowed to return to the team at some point this season, Cannady sat on the team bench during Princeton’s return to action on Sunday against Division III opponent Wesley College of Delaware.