Princeton defeats Yale, 71-59, clinches NCAA Tournament berth


Princeton cemented itself as one of the Ivy League’s most impressive basketball teams ever with a 71-59 victory over Yale at the Palestra to win the inaugural league men’s basketball tournament, clinching a 16-0 record in league competition and the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011.

The tournament No. 1 seed Tigers relied on characteristically potent outside shooting in the second half and stout defense to pull decisively away from Yale, and sophomore guard Myles Stephens led Princeton with 23 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals. Stephens was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, having notched 21 points and 10 boards in Princeton’s 72-64 overtime win over Penn Saturday.

Princeton went 7-for-14 from three-point range in the second half, quickly stretching a 31-29 halftime advantage. Senior guard Steven Cook added 15 points on 3-for-5 shooting from three-point range, and the Tigers finished 11-for-26 from deep.

The Tigers’ defense limited Yale to 20-for-53 shooting from the floor, and the Elis were paced by sophomore guard Alex Copeland’s 14 points on 6-for-14 shooting and senior center Sam Downey, who posted 12 points and six rebounds in 31 minutes.

Princeton, which lost two starters in nonconference play, won its first outright Ivy League championship since 2004 with a 14-0 regular season record but had to survive both Yale and an upstart Penn squad to punch its ticket to the Big Dance. Cornell was the last team to attain a 14-0 record in league play, doing so in 2008.

2 thoughts on “Princeton defeats Yale, 71-59, clinches NCAA Tournament berth”

  1. Victory is sweet! Despite the self-inflicted wound of the tourney, the Ivies send their best representative to the NCAA while Princeton gets its long-awaited return, the first time for seniors Weisz, Cook, and Miller. The first trip for Mitch Henderson as coach, as well.

    Given the overall depth of the league this year, 16-0 is remarkable.

  2. The monkey is off Mitch’s back! But it took an improbable end to regulation in the semifinal against Penn for the Tigers to claim a championship that they so richly deserved. With only a dozen or so ticks left in the game and with Princeton trailing by 2, Steven Cook missed a jumper and Matt Howard of Penn grabbed what seemed like an upset clinching rebound. Howard was immediately fouled and had a chance to seal the deal at the line. But Howard missed the front end of a 1-on-1 and seconds later the indomitable Myles Stephens put back an Amir Bell miss at the rim to tie the game and take the contest into OT. The Tigers apparently fouled the right man. Howard is barely a 60% free throw shooter; nevertheless, he could have ended the Tigers’ magical run by making clutch free throws on his home floor. Instead, he missed, and the Tigers took advantage of the new life they were given as they have over and over again during this magical and memorable season. Congrats to Coach Henderson, the rest of the outstanding coaching staff, and of course the spectacular players (and their very proud parents and family members). A great, great weekend for Tigers Hoops and a historic basketball weekend for the Ivy League.

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