Postgame audio - Coach Mitch Henderson:
Postgame audio - Brendan Connolly, Ben Hazel & Ian Hummer:
It was the proper definition of “a balanced effort.”
Eight Tigers played between 18 and 28 minutes for Princeton on Friday night at Brown. Those eight players each scored between seven and 12 points as the orange and black led by double digits in Providence for the night’s final 30 minutes.
“I thought we definitely had the right attitude tonight,” said head coach Mitch Henderson. “We were just more aggressive on the boards and that created some opportunities for us.”
Trailing 8-5, Princeton hit four straight three pointers and ran off 16 consecutive on the scoreboard, capping this stretch with a Brendan Connolly sky hook and tip follow. Connolly had 11 points off the bench.
Sophomore guard Ben Hazel made four of his seven three pointers for a career high 12, matched by Douglas Davis.
“Hazel was very good tonight,” Henderson acknowledged. “He gave us a lift off the bench.”
The Tigers held a 48-34 advantage at the break, their most first half points against a Division I opponent in at least 13 years. In the back frame this lead extended to as many as 23.
Sean McGonagill had 17 for the Bears on 19 shots.
The game opened at a remarkable scoring pace. Hummer began with a three on the right wing after winning the opening tip. A drive and dish by McGonagill to Stephen Albrecht setting up in front of the Princeton bench evened the score.
Davis responded, stopping and popping for a long two. Dockery Walker countered inside, his only bucket of the game.
Hummer to his left was blocked by Walker and the other way Matt Sullivan stepped to his right for a triple. The Tigers trailed 8-5 less than two minutes in.
Here, the run began and the Bears could not handle the turgidity. Davis hopped backwards on the left wing for a difficult three over two sets of hands to tie the score for a third and final time. Davis moving to his left with the ball set up Mack Darrow outside. Hummer’s help defense swatted a Sullivan layup try into Davis’ hands once more and coming up the court Davis paused at the top of the arc and fired a shot in for a six point Tiger lead.
In for the first time along with Connolly and Denton Koon, Hazel considered an open look being a Connolly screen and eventually launched for a 17-8 count.
Now Connolly joined the fun, playing high/low with Koon and swooping to his right for a hook. On defense Connolly forced Andrew McCarthy into an awful drive and next Connolly tipped home a soft Davis jumper off the rim as Brown used its second time out in as many minutes down 13. It had taken Princeton less than seven minutes to score their first 21 points.
When Tyler Ponticelli went to his left hand for a hook over Hummer, the run was over but almost six minutes had expired and Brown was reeling, missing six straight shots and adding three turnovers.
The Bears drew within nine three times down the court and Princeton scored on the subsequent possession on each occasion. Ponticelli to his left using an up and under move? Patrick Saunders on the left wing with a quick release three.
Tellef Lundevall with an arc so high on a three that Darrow tried to grab it out of the air as it came down through the rim? Hummer to Darrow on a cut.
Ponticelli spinning on the left baseline? T.J. Bray pushing a shot home in the lane with the possession clock at two after a hustling Saunders kept the ball with the Tigers.
There would be no more single digit gaps.
Hummer to Darrow under the basket was a great look and Darrow controlled and scored. As the Brown defense keyed on Hummer he was less interested in joining the 1,000 point club and more interested in setting up his teammates.
“Making passes is one of the best feelings,” Hummer said after the game with genuine delight.
Up 34-21, Connolly was fouled on an adroit spinning layup ruled a continuation and Connolly added a banked-home free throw following Albrecht’s foul. Ponticelli went for a bucket before Hummer drew another crowd and set up Connolly darting into the paint for a basket and a foul on Walker. This time the free throw was no good.
By now Brown had switched into a desperate 1-3-1 on defense and Bray was ready on the left wing for three to make it 42-23, Princeton’s seventh three of the half.
McGonagill to his left over a Hummer block attempt and a posting Sullivan out to McGonagill for three ran off five straight for the Bears, which Hazel silenced on the right wing off a Bray assist.
Hazel’s third three of the half was set up by Davis driving to the free throw line and dishing left.
McCarthy was fouled by Saunders from behind and made both attempts to end the first half scoring. Hazel’s attempt to set a career high before halftime was off the mark from distance right before the horn.
Connolly and Hazel evenly split 18 points in the opening frame as Princeton shot 19-32 (59.4%), made 9-15 threes (60.0%) and were 1-2 at the line (50.0%). The Tigers had 12 assists, four belonging to Hummer.
Brown were no slouches offensively, 14-25 from the floor (56.0%), 4-7 from distance (57.1%) and 2-4 on free throws (50.0%). Ponticelli provided 10 off the bench.
Hummer tried to start the second half the way he opened the game, but his left wing three was short. Albrecht connected from outside to draw his squad within 11. Davis went to his left all the way to the glass with a scooping motion.
McGonagill looked to drive more in the back frame and had success. He attacked right at Bray and floated a shot off the glass.
Princeton looked to post Saunders versus Albrecht and Saunders’ drop step dropped off the glass and in.
Hummer picked off a Ponticelli passing lane and was headed the other way, dunking with two hands and that was the end of Brown trailing by 11 again.
The only drama was if Hummer would make it to 1K tonight. A catch and shoot jumper from the far baseline dropped, giving him 995 as a junior.
McGonnagil was screened off on the left wing for three and a 58-46 count. Hazel hit his career high in concert with Bray, who took one dribble on the wing and went around the Brown defense to the other side where Hazel was happy to fire.
Leading 65-50 on McGonagill’s drive to the right, Princeton scored eight straight to snuff out any last vestiges of hope.
Darrow blocked a McGonagill three point attempt at the top of the arc and controlled as McGonagill fouled him. Hummer at the free throw line waited for Koon to his left for two.
Hummer went from distributor to distributed, scoring to his right off the glass for points 996 and 997.
A Koon flip over his head was good for 71-50 and Connolly capped off his sold showing by altering an Albrecht layup try into Davis’ hands and then running the floor for a two-handed reward. Hummer subbed out with the game in hand. His inevitable path to 1,000 points would be deferred one day.
Brown cut into the substantial Princeton lead in the final three minutes after Henderson made wholesale substitutions to his roster. The only activity worth noting was a pull up jumper from Chris Clement for his second basket of his sophomore season.
Princeton’s balanced attack attacked for the balance of the game.
“That’s kind of a best case scenario for this team,” said Connolly, who had 11 of his team’s 33 bench points. “If everyone can contribute it just makes us harder to guard.”
Momentum has been on Connolly’s side since the start of 2012 and it will be the balance that Connolly can provide which could keep Princeton’s team momentum going through New Haven and back down I-95.
Hazel, for one, acknowledges the change he’s seen in the junior center. “He’s being very, very aggressive with everything. Every time he touches the ball he’s looking to score,” Hazel said of Connolly. “It opens up everything for everyone else.”
-Princeton was 32-61 overall in the win (52.5%), 10-22 from three (45.5%) and 3-4 at the line (75.0%). All 15 Tigers in uniform saw the floor.
-Brown’s shooting dipped to 10-31 in the second half (32.3%) and the Bears were 24-56 for the game (42.9%), making 6-15 threes (40.0%) and a horrible 9-20 on free throws (45.0%). Ponticelli was the main offender, 1-7 with his only make banked in.
-The Tigers grabbed 12 offensive boards and had a 39-30 advantage on the glass with Hummer corralling 11 rebounds.
-Hummer was held to single digit scoring for the first time this season.
-With 12 points and two three pointers versus Brown, Davis trails Brian Earl (1,428) by 45 points for fifth all-time in scoring at Princeton and is 34 threes behind Earl (281) for most triples as a Tiger.
-Princeton recruit Edo Lawrence and family attended the game, sitting behind the Tigers’ bench.