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Mercer wins the Region XIX tournament.

The two HLs are both winners.

That was the message Mercer coach Howie Levy received from former Vikings head man Howie Landa on the way back to central New Jersey from Scranton this evening.

The veteran Landa, who coached the Mercer County Community College men's basketball team for over 20 years, winning two national titles, called to congratulate Levy after the Vikings defeated Lackawanna 79-69 to win the Region XIX Tournament.

Mercer advances to the 16 team round robin NJCAA Division II Championship Tournament starting March 16th in Danville, Illinois.

Sophomore sharpshooter Uros Kovacevic scored 24 points and was named tournament MVP. Paco Boussougou added 14 for the Vikings, who claimed the Region XIX title for the first time since 1998.

"The last three games have been pretty similar. Three tough teams," an elated Levy said over the phone while his team watched Bad Boys II on the bus home. "Our defense was terrific. We've just been playing great."

"They became a team about a week ago," Levy added. "We've been working hard all year but it has been sort of up and down. After Harcum beat us and we had a couple bad practices it sort of all came together."

The Vikings and the Falcons split their regular season series, with Lackawanna winning at home by 16 and Mercer picking up a three point decision in West Windsor for their first victory over the Falcons in nine years.

The rubber game went to Mercer, who has won 10 of their last 11. The Vikings head to Danville with a 20-12 record. "We got down early by eight points and the played a little too fast," Levy said of how the championship game unfolded. "We ended up taking four point lead at halftime."

"Early in the second half we got a lead and managed to extend it to 10-12 points and kept it there."

"They were so happy. It was really nice," Levy added when asked to describe the scene after the final buzzer. "They were jumping around, truly happy."

"It is quite an accomplishment for these guys. They came a long way."

After the game Levy was honored as Region XIX DII Coach of the Year.

Princeton 67 Columbia 52.

Box Score : HD Box Score

Postgame audio - Coach Sydney Johnson:

Postgame audio - Kareem Maddox & Douglas Davis:

Princeton coach Sydney Johnson couldn’t wait for a question about if winning at Columbia for the first time in five years was important for his seniors to finish. He knew the answer and did not hesitate to speak.

“Absolutely,” Johnson interjected. “We talked about that before the game. There’s no question,” he emphasized.

“[The seniors] got their first win at Columbia. It was absolutely very, very important for us to try to get a win here coming off of the disappointment of last night [at Cornell] for our seniors and for our program. We feel pretty good.”

To win for the seniors and bounce right back from a bitter loss in Ithaca, three Tiger underclassmen had to turn in big performances.

Junior forward Kareem Maddox scored a career high 17 and matched his career best with 10 rebounds.

Maddox was joined in double figures by fellow junior Dan Mavraides, who had a game high 22 on 7-9 shooting. Sophomore Douglas Davis hit four times behind the arc on his way to 14.

Davis was first onto the court after Princeton’s arrived at Levien Gym over an hour before tipoff, spending extra time working with a Tiger assistant who made a few jump shots in his day, Brian Earl.

“I got off the bus and I was sluggish,” Davis admitted. “I just wanted to get in the gym, get up some shots as soon as I could. It helped me tonight.”

The Tigers trailed 14-7 after a sloppy start, but a 12-0 run midway through the first half turned a five point deficit into a seven point lead.

Princeton opened the second half on a 16-4 spurt and held off a late Lion push.

The Tigers shot 23-44 from the floor (52.3%), 7-16 from behind the arc (43.8%) and 14-18 at the free throw line (77.8%).

Niko Scott scored 12 for Columbia in his final home game. Sophomore sharpshooter Noruwa Agho was bothered into 3-15 shooting by Maddox and Mavraides, finishing with nine.

Maddox and Mavraides did a fine job leaping above screens and chasing this pair on curl patterns to the perimeter.

“They’re going to score sometimes, and we just have to stick to our scouting report,” said Maddox of his team’s attentiveness to Scott and Agho. “Do what the coaches tell us and make adjustments throughout the game.”

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Cornell 50 Princeton 47.

Box Score : HD Box Score

Postgame audio - Coach Sydney Johnson:

Postgame audio - Pawel Buczak & Dan Mavraides:

In a game where both Cornell and Princeton had to work exceptionally hard to find open looks and uncontested shots, the Big Red fended off the Tigers all night and most importantly when it mattered most - at the final buzzer.

"Cornell's a good team," said Tiger head coach Sydney Johnson. "I think we showed what we're made of, especially on the heels of Saturday, where we disappointed ourselves [versus Brown]. Tremendous effort, I think that was pretty evident."

"Our guys responded pretty well in terms of how much harder they needed to play," Johnson added. "I was encouraged by that."

But for the second time in as many meetings, the Big Red grinded out a three point victory over Princeton, a win earned at the free throw line, where the home team shot 22-25 and 15-17 in the second half.

Cornell, who never trailed, made a season low 35.1% of their attempts from the field.

Even 7'0" Big Red center Jeff Foote, a 59.4% free throw shooter entering Friday, was a confident 7-8 from the stripe and finished with a game-high 19 points on 6-7 shooting.

"He's a 50% foul shooter and he made his free throws," Johnson said of Foote's performance. "All credit to him. That's his Achilles' heel and he made them. Jeff Foote made his free throws. God bless him."

Stout perimeter defense hounded potential 2009-10 Ivy League Player of the Year Ryan Wittman into 3-11 shooting and a 0-5 game behind the arc, but a pair of Wittman free throws with two seconds left after Dan Mavraides’ scooping drive cut the Cornell lead to a single point with just over four ticks on the clock provided the night’s final margin.

Mavraides, who was unable to get a tying three attempt from just inside midcourt up to the rim, had 13 points and a game best seven rebounds for Princeton. The Tigers outrebounded Cornell 31-25 and snatched 12 offensive boards.

Kareem Maddox added an acrobatic 11 off the bench for Princeton and Pawel Buczak had 10, including two large second half three point shots.

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Mercer 70 Essex 64.

Postgame audio - Coach Howie Levy:

Derek Williams scored 22 points and made seven free throws in the final two minutes as Mercer (18-12) held off a frantic Essex rally to advance to the semifinals of the Region XIX tournament.

"That was a terrific effort," said Vikings coach Howie Levy following the 70-64 victory. "The last two days of practice were major battles between me and my team after that Harcum game. There is a way that they had to play to be successful and they did it and they were able to overcome a couple of mistakes."

Mercer trailed only once, at 7-6, and proceeded to score the game's next nine points as they opened up early advantages of 16-6 and 25-8.

"We never gave back the lead," Levy said with pride. "We really hung in there. I loved the way they shared the ball tonight."

The visiting Wolverines responded with a 13-1 spurt of their own to close within five, but every time Essex reached striking distance, Mercer found room to breathe.

Leading by five at the break, the Vikings scored the first nine points of the second half. Williams hit from the left corner to make it a 10 point game and Williams' penetration freed Quentin Lofton up top for a 42-29 advantage.

Back-to-back three pointers from Essex guard Saladine Collins drew the Wolverines within 65-64 in the final minute and Collins immediately stole a pass in the backcourt as Essex pressed and drove for a layup that would have put his team back in front. The shot was short off the rim and Williams was fouled, making one of two free throws.

Jahmal Scarborough carried the ball trying to split two defenders as he spun inside and Williams went back at the line, extending the Mercer lead to four.

Uros Kovacevic added 16 points, six rebounds and five rebounds. Isiah Andrews had 17 points and five boards for Mercer.

"There's more basketball left to play," Levy remarked. Last year at this time the Vikings' season was over following a bitter one point first round Region XIX tournament loss to Manor.

Now Mercer travels to Scranton, PA on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 pm ET, where they will play Del Tech Stanton.

"There's more improvements these guys can make," Levy said with a smile. "We're happy."

Brown 57 Princeton 54.

Box Score : HD Box Score

Postgame audio - Coach Sydney Johnson, Marcus Schroeder & Kareem Maddox:

Princeton coach Sydney Johnson was not shocked.

"I thought our energy was pretty bad. Although I'm disappointed by how we played, I don't think I'm very surprised by the end result."

The end result was a three point home loss to Brown in a game that a flat Tigers squad never took physical or emotional control of despite leading by six at halftime.

"When you're a basketball player, no matter if you win or lose, you want to hold your head high just because you played hard and gave the best effort you could," said senior co-captain Marcus Schroeder. "Tonight we just didn't do that, so it is very tough."

Schroeder scored a game-best 17 on 7-16 shooting as Brown keyed on the Tigers' other perimeter weapons. While Schroeder matched his career high, he was 2-9 behind the arc.

"They were doubling the post off me a little bit, sticking on some of our better shooters like Dan [Mavraides] and Doug [Davis] and Pat [Saunders]," added Schroeder, who fell prone to the floor with his hands over his face at the final buzzer. "There were just shots there for me and I wish I made a few more."

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Princeton 82 Yale 58.

Box Score : HD Box Score

Postgame audio - Coach Sydney Johnson, Pawel Buczak & Patrick Saunders:

When the worst thing you can say about Princeton's performance is that they were 1-5 on dunk tries, it is a pretty good night.

The Tigers made 11 of their first 15 three point attempts and blew out Yale by 24 on Friday at Jadwin Gym. It was the highest point total for a Tiger team against the Bulldogs since 1973.

"We haven't had a game like that, but we were fortunate," said Princeton head coach Sydney Johnson. "I thought Yale brought a lot of energy and I know Coach Jones had them ready to play. It just seemed that we didn't miss a lot of shots."

Grabbing 16 offensive rebounds (the most versus a Division I foe since Rutgers in December 2001), dishing out 25 assists (the most versus a D-I foe since 28 against Brown in March 2000) and holding Bulldog leading scorer Alex Zampier to 3-12 shooting, Princeton led by 16 at the break and hit their first three treys of the second half to build an advantage that they sustained to the buzzer.

Dan Mavraides had 20 to lead all scorers, 4-7 outside the arc.

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Harcum 93 Mercer 67.

Postgame audio - Coach Howie Levy:

Winners of seven straight, Mercer County Community College was unable to slow down 24-0 Harcum on Tuesday night. The Bears from Bryn Mawr, ranked #1 in the NJCAA Divsion I men's basketball poll, raced to a 14-2 lead and the Vikings were unable to play the game at the pace they needed to stay close.

"You can't replicate what they do in practice, that's for sure," said Mercer head coach Howie Levy. "We've had a terrific year, we've played real well, but we've never faced anything like that."

By the time the Vikings settled down on both ends of the floor, the deficit was significant. Two baskets and two free throws following a technical foul on Harcum's Jeremiah Bowman drew Mercer within 33-25, but the Vikings could not get a stop - slapping out a defensive rebound did not create a transition opportunity that might have pulled Mercer closer. Instead a Harcum forward happily accepted the ball at the top of the arc and sized up a three that took the lead back to double figures.

As the Bears sent wave after wave of players into the rotation, Mercer was unable to contain all of Harcum's weapons and slow the Bears' repeated breakouts. In addition to a cadre of quick guards flying all over the court, Harcum also boasted the interior presences of 6'11" Diyaaldin Kelley and 6'10" Dutch center Berend Weijs.

A basket by Mercer's Paco Boussougou, fouled by Wilbur O'Neal on the play, made it a 64-52 score midway through the second half, but a swift 13-2 run cued by Harcum's swarming defense erased any thought of a comeback.

"It's pressure that [we] haven't seen all year and hopefully won't see again," Levy said of the Bears' active full court attack.

Mercer (17-12) will open Region XIX Tournament play on Wednesday night. The location of this game and the Vikings' opponent will be known on Monday.

Photos from today’s game courtesy of Stephen Goldsmith after the jump.

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Princeton 58 Penn 51.

Box Score : HD Box Score

Postgame audio - Coach Sydney Johnson, Ian Hummer & Dan Mavraides:

Two of the greatest guards in the history of the Ivy League manned the sidelines against one another for the first time on Tuesday night in the 221st hardwood meeting between Penn and Princeton.

It was an evening where both men, each coaching at their alma mater, made it clear where their allegiances stood. Their fashion displayed their passion.

For the first time this season, Sydney Johnson wore a tie from the Princeton Club of Philadelphia embroidered with orange and black crests.

Not to be outdone, Jerome Allen donned a maroon sweater with a dark blue "P" flush in the center.

This first face off for the two went better for Johnson's Tigers than he remembered the pair's on-court encounters in the mid-1990s.

"It was a nightmare," Johnson said of facing Penn's Allen, Shawn Trice and Matt Maloney.

"We competed," Johnson was quick to add about his teams. "We were proud in what we put out on the court. We had our own time. "That's what I'm trying to tell these guys. Just keep grinding and maybe we'll get our own time."

Princeton kept grinding against Penn, never trailing, but never able to push their lead into double digits.

Their leading scorer, Douglas Davis - for the first time in his collegiate career - went scoreless.

Yet at the end of the night, the Tigers had won their second straight at the Palestra behind a career high 24 points from junior Dan Mavraides and 23 points off the bench from the interior combination of Zach Finley and Ian Hummer.

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Rutgers 71 Georgetown 68.

Box Score

Postgame audio - Coach John Thompson III, Greg Monroe & Austin Freeman:

Mike Rosario lept up on a platform in front of the Rutgers student section and began to shimmy, doing a two step shake in front of the Scarlet Knights fans jumping up and down. Three weeks and a day after being embarrassed by 25 in Washington, DC, Rosario's team defeated Georgetown by three.

The last time Rutgers beat a squad ranked as high as the #8 Hoyas was in 1982, when the Scarlet Knights clipped #6 West Virginia by 10.

Greg Monroe had rallied Georgetown to a 66-65 lead with :51 left on a drop step move against Hamaday Ndiaye. Monroe finished with 19 points, eight rebounds, six assists, four blocks and five turnovers.

Mike Rosario, who shot 3-16 on the day, missed a step back jumper from behind the free throw line, but Dane Miller raced in from the wing for an acrobatic tip follow that gave the Scarlet Knights a one point edge with 19 seconds to play.

The Hoyas pushed the ball, with head coach John Thompson III telling his team that he would call time out if he did not like what he saw. A two-on-one advantage for Chris Wright and Hollis Thompson developed on the far side of the arc, letting Wright spring open for a clear three off the left wing that he was unable to knock down.

Wright finished with six points and Georgetown dropped to 2-6 this season when Wright fails to reach double figures.

The two teams traded a pair of free throws before Austin Freeman's three point shot from the top of the arc was long at the buzzer and the spontaneous dance party broke out.

Jonathan Mitchell had a career high 24 points for Rutgers. Miller added 13 points and 10 boards for his second career double-double.

Cornell 48 Princeton 45.

Box Score : HD Box Score

Postgame audio - Coach Sydney Johnson, Zach Finley & Douglas Davis:

Douglas Davis’ tying try from the top of the arc sailed beyond his target at the horn and Cornell gutted out a 48-45 win over Princeton to move back into a first place tie atop the Ivy League.

"I let it go and it felt a little long but I knew it was on line. I needed the backboard [for] it to go in," Davis said of one of his few second half misses. "I was praying that it would go in somehow, some type of way, but it didn't."

Ryan Wittman’s catch and shoot three with 1:38 remaining - his only triple of the night - looked like it had iced the game for the Big Red and silenced the packed house at Jadwin Gym, sending Cornell up 44-38, but Davis scored the Tigers’ last 11 points, putting them in the position to force overtime.

David finished with a game-high 20 on 6-10 shooting.

Wittman had 13 for Cornell and fellow senior Jeff Foote added 11 inside, perfect from the field.

"I thought it was a terrific basketball game. It was pretty physical. There was a fair amount of stuff going out there that wasn't smooth and pretty but I thought it was pretty intensely played," Princeton coach Sydney Johnson summarized. "I thought these guys really put their heart out. I was really happy with the effort of our team and certainly they should feel good about their effort. It's just a shame we couldn't win the game."

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Princeton 55 Columbia 45.

Box Score : HD Box Score

Postgame audio - Coach Sydney Johnson, Zach Finley, Kareem Maddox & Ian Hummer:

All Princeton wanted was to get to Saturday with a puncher's chance.

Eclipsed by Jeremy Lin's story and Cornell's rise to the Top 25, the Tigers have won 12 of 13 about as quietly as a basketball team can.

The Big Red's shocking loss at The Palestra on Friday night combined with the Tigers' defense-driven rally over Columbia up the road has changed the complexion of tomorrow night's title fight.

To reach this position as the only remaining unblemished Ivy team, Princeton had to shut down the Lions for the last 13:00+ of the second half, allowing just one meaningful field goal as they reversed a four point deficit with an 18-2 run.

"I'm proud that we took a couple punches but we didn't fall down, we didn't stumble," said Tiger head man Sydney Johnson. "We just kind of cleared our head and got back to doing what we do. It was pretty effective."

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Princeton 54 Dartmouth 38.

Box Score : HD Box Score

Postgame audio - Coach Sydney Johnson:

Postgame audio - Ian Hummer & Pawel Buczak:
Letdown to shutdown.

After a uninspired first half rightfully put Princeton down 21-19 on the road at Dartmouth, a stellar defensive performance was the spark.

The Tigers outscored the Big Green 35-15 before the benches emptied, on their way to their largest margin of victory in Hanover since 1998.

"You have to bring your energy and focus every time out," said Princeton head coach Sydney Johnson. "I did think that missing a few chippies and some threes let us settle into a funk and thankfully we were able to get out of that at halftime."

One night after limiting Harvard to 36.0% shooting, Dartmouth connected at a similar 36.4% clip.

Ian Hummer scored a team-best 11 off the bench and while Kareem Maddox did not have the same impact in the scoring column that he did one night previous versus Harvard, he did grab nine boards, hand out three assists and block two shots. The length of both players caused Dartmouth fits once Princeton’s defensive adjustments limited the Big Green’s drives.

"We knew coming out of halftime that we had to play with more energy and be more aggressive," said senior center Pawel Buczak, who scored seven points after the break. "Once we started out quickly in the second half it just kept going."

Robbie Pride’s 10 led Dartmouth in defeat.

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