Princeton men eke out win at Oregon State, 81-80

The Princeton men traveled across the country to meet Oregon State, winner of last year’s Pac-12 championship and Elite 8 darling. Tiger fans recall the six-year tenure Craig Robinson had as head coach in Corvallis.

The Tigers held the lead for most of Sunday afternoon’s contest. In the end, Princeton managed to survive a late run by the home team, which came from 11 points down in the final five minutes to get within one.
Powered by the best all-around game in the career of senior guard Ethan Wright, Princeton managed an 81-80 victory.

Wright was simply phenomenal today, making several big threes and grabbing some very important rebounds at both ends of the floor. His 24 points were high for the game, and his 10 rebounds gave him a double-double when his team desperately needed it. Wright was joined in double figures by Drew Friberg (17), Jaelin Llewellyn (14) and Tosan Evbuomwan (14).

Friberg’s early long-range accuracy kept the Tigers in the game in a helter-skelter first half. After 20 minutes, Princeton (4-1) held a narrow 41-39 lead. It was apparent that the Tigers would have to continue to score from deep because the Beavers are bigger and stronger in the frontcourt, making it very difficult to get the ball into the paint.  Princeton held its own on the boards, particularly at the offensive end, grabbing 37 rebounds to 30 for the home club. Princeton’s 13-5 advantage in offensive boards for the Beavers, was a huge factor in this white-kunckler. Evbuomwan turned in another stellar performance defensively and did most of his scoring in the second half.

Oregon State employed three different defensive schemes against the Tigers, who remained patient. Excellent ball movement and spacing enabled Princeton to free up a shooter beyond the arc. The Tigers attempted 35 three balls and made 13, accounting for nearly half the Tigers’ 81 points. Oregon State played a very good game, making 56% of their 55 shots, outshooting the Tigers by 16 percentage points, 56% to just 40%.

The problem for the Beavers was that the Tigers scored 39 points from deep to the host’s 21. Princeton helped its effort by shooting a blistering 87% from the free throw line, making 20 of 23 to the Beavers’ 11 of 16. Each team notched 15 assists.

This was another very good “program win,” as Princeton coach Mitch Henderson likes to say.  The Tigers have done well historically on the West Coast.  Although the Tigers have never played Oregon State prior to this afternoon they did play in Corvallis back in 1983. Princeton beat Oklahoma State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to Boston College.

Oregon State is now 1-4 for the season and has lost four straight. Don’t worry about the Beavers, though. They had a rough start last year, too.

Henderson employed 10 players, but Friberg, Evbuomwan, Llewellyn, Wright and Ryan Langborg all played at least 29 minutes.  The 10 Beavers who saw action all scored, led by junior guard Dashawn Davis with 16 points. Davis is a tremendous floor leader and tough defender.

Princeton resumes action on Wednesday night at Monmouth in a 7 p.m. game. Monmouth is currently 3-1 and always gives the Tigers a tough game. Princeton is the Ivy League’s top-ranked team in KenPom after the win, edging three slots above Yale.

Happy Thanksgiving!