Postgame audio - Coach Mitch Henderson:
Postgame audio - Patrick Saunders & Ian Hummer:
A common thread has connected Princeton’s three Ivy League losses this season: The inability to cut an opponent’s lead down to one possession in the second half when offered repeated opportunity. Tonight’s defeat at Yale was the most bitter of this trio of intertwined results, as the chances were numerous and comparatively the least difficult.
As occurred at Cornell and at Penn, starting with just under nine minutes left in regulation Princeton could not convert six straight shots to turn what had been as deep as a 13 point hole - dug primarily during a 9:20 first half scoreless stretch - into a one possession affair.
“Once again, you’re in a game where have to come back from so far down – that’s tough,” said head coach Mitch Henderson.
Ian Hummer eventually drew his team within 50-47 on a jumper over Greg Mangano before Mangano knocked down the Bulldogs’ only three point shot in 10 second half attempts.
A pair of layups by Mack Darrow had Princeton within two in the final minute, but needing a defensive stop Jeremiah Kreisberg was fouled receiving a wrap around pass and made both his free throws.
Kreisberg (9), Mangano (20 and 12 rebounds) and Reggie Willhite (20 points and nine rebounds) combined for 49 of Yale’s 58. The rest of the Bulldogs shot 2-18 for the game.
“We knew if we contained them we would have a chance of winning and that didn’t happen tonight,” Hummer said of Yale’s frontcourt. “They killed us on the inside.”
Hummer led the way for Princeton with 18 in defeat, eclipsing 1,000 points on a runner that was blocked by Mangano for a goaltending violation. Darrow added 11 but was 1-8 from three point range. Patrick Saunders supported the cause with 10.
Both teams shot under 36% for the game.
The tone Mangano set by winning the opening tip and tossing in a three pointer over Darrow was an ominous one, however this feeling would be offset by Hummer to T.J. Bray for a layup and a loud bounce pass backdoor from Hummer to Saunders.
Willhite got on the scoreboard with a baseline jumper and Saunders returned the lead to Princeton’s side with a deuce as he drifted to his left.
Stepping out on a left baseline drive, Willhite gave the ball back to Princeton and with the Bulldogs dropping into a zone, some penetration by Douglas Davis set up Bray on the left wing for three and a four point Princeton lead.
Two things were working well for the Tigers beyond putting the ball in the basket: Darrow’s lateral movement was keeping Mangano out of the post and off the drive, plus the Bulldogs did not look comfortable in any of their defensive forms.
Brendan Connolly replaced Darrow and it was Connolly setting a screen for Davis and diving to the basket, fouled in the air by Brandon Sherrod and making one of two attempts.
Princeton went from up 10-5 six minutes in and getting the opportunities they wanted to suffering through the next 9:20 without scoring, a period where the Bulldogs ran off 16 unanswered to jump up by 11 as the orange and black missed 10 consecutive shots and had five turnovers for good measure. There were also six offensive rebounds by the home team.
Mangano at the top landed long but Austin Morgan slipped in front of Davis for a putback and a foul from behind, Morgan’s only basket in nine attempts.
Denton Koon’s drive was wild enough that he was left standing on the opposite side of the rim for an easier putback but neither fell for the freshman.
Willhite, who is hard to slow with a head of steam, raced to the rim to even the score.
Connolly traveled on a spin in the post and Hummer was wild with the ball in traffic, unable to get off a shot.
It was Willhite again to the iron, making a secondary cut as Morgan held the ball on the wing. A third Princeton TO in as many possessions happened as Koon slid his feet on his first move with the ball.
The Yale defense stiffened, starting to recognize and adjust to what Princeton was doing. Davis to the left elbow with the shot clock expiring did not connect.
Mangano left the floor for a breather with his team up 14-10 and the Tigers could do little with the Ivy League’s leading scorer on the bench. Hummer was alone on the right baseline with a jumper that sailed too strong and Connolly could not finish a weakside putback.
Kreisberg spun baseline on Connolly to his left for two. Connolly’s attempt to respond with a hook was too strong.
A second time Princeton had to rush to beat the shot clock, Bray on the right wing firing errantly. Ben Hazel was at least able to tie up possession on the rebound with the arrow pointing to the Tigers.
Mangano returned to the floor. During his nearly three minutes away from action his team was +2.
Darrow stepped open for three. Short. Willhite was screened off for three. Good. 19-10 Yale.
Hummer had a three try miss the rim short. Willhite’s next three try missed the rim too, but long over the iron. However, Michael Grace kept the ball with Yale and Mangano scored off the glass. It was Yale by 11 with under five minutes to go.
Neither of Princeton’s two leading scorers had tallied so far. Hummer took a Darrow feed and went left on the baseline for a reverse, ending this epic scoring drought and giving him 999 points as a Tiger.
““That was a tough stretch for us. I don’t know if it was the key to the game but it felt like it,” Henderson said.
The issue switched to defensive stops and a lack thereof on both sides. Kreisberg went right high off the glass over Hummer.
Darrow answered by attacking to his right at Mangano.
Kreisberg scored once more, to his right over Saunders. When Saunders to his left stopped and rainbowed home a long jumper Princeton was within 25-17.
Willhite used Mangano’s body as a shield and drove to his left for a jumper.
Hummer finally joined the thousand point club with a runner driving to his left at Sherrod. The fact that his try was goaltended by Mangano was indicative of how tough the half had been as a whole. Darrow came over to give his classmate a brief slap of congratulation. Beyond that there was no further acknowledgement.
Mangano went around Darrow and finished with a little flipsy maneuver to take his team back up 10.
Davis joined Hummer on the scoreboard as following a steal Davis tracked down his own miss to the free throw line and converted his first bucket of the night.
Morgan made one of two at the line as Davis fouled him going for a steal in the backcourt. Davis’ crossover led to a long jumper and a 30-23 score.
With the shot clock off Willhite had it too easy scooping to the bucket, then tipped a Bray inbounds pass up in the air and ran the ball down in front of the Princeton bench. Disaster was averted as Willhite’s three try was off and Mangano also could not complete a follow as time expired.
Down by nine at the break, Princeton was 10-27 from the floor (37.0%), 2-8 from thee (25.0%) and 1-2 on free throws (50.0%). Saunders’ seven led the Tigers, who were outrebounded 23-14.
Yale shot 13-31 (41.9%), 2-10 from three (20.0%) and 4-5 on free throws (80.0%). Willhite exploded for 13 points and the Bulldogs had 10 offensive boards.
Princeton stayed cold as play resumed and Yale extended their lead to a game-best 13. Mangano spun into Bray helping in the post and was fouled, making two free throws.
Willhite drove for a 26-23 count, then Darrow shaved three off of that margin as he took a Saunders pass and fired from up top, his only conversion from outside.
Princeton played a bit of 1-3-1 on defense here, which disrupted some of Yale’s flow. That didn’t stop Mangano from banking in a hard hook square in the center of the glass.
The Tigers could not do much offensively but were now getting enough stops that Yale couldn’t run away and hide. Behind by 11 following a Connolly free throw after receiving a Davis pass, Princeton started to get to the line more often.
Hummer spun to his right as Mangano sagged to help and he scored plus a Sherrod foul. Princeton had closed to 38-30 and Mangano took his second breather with 13:24 left.
Willhite to Sherrod underneath was too easy a counter to this 1-3-1.
A pair of Jesse Pritchard free throws increased Yale’s lead to 12 again but Hummer cut, posted out of the cut, took Darrow’s pass and scored as Sherrod initiated contact for his fourth personal. Back to the court traipsed Mangano with his team having increased their lead by one.
Looking for extra defense, Henderson inserted Jimmy Sherburne into the lineup for the first time. Willhite went to his right at Sherburne and was able to turn the corner for a strong one-handed throw down that ignited the crowd.
Princeton began to string together some stops and in combination with repeated trips to the line, moved in on Yale. Hummer was fouled and made both ends of a one and one. Bray stole the ball and instead of pushing his opportunity waited for Hummer trailing who was fouled going up and again made both chances. When Davis was fouled at the free throw line by Grace and calmly knocked down each side of the one and one it was 44-39 with 9:32 to go.
Being a glutton for punishment, here is a numerical list of all of Princeton’s chances to draw within one possession.
1/2. After a Mangano free throw made it a six point game, Darrow was wide open on the left wing for three. Bray came under the rim for an offensive board and passed out to Darrow who this time out of the near corner came up short on a more difficult second trey.
3. Davis went to a spinning jumper that wasn’t the best shot he could have managed given the circumstance and Hummer fouled on the rebound, leading to a single Kreisberg free throw.
4. A posting Bray found Saunders on the opposite wing for three and after Mangano scored with two on the shot clock, Davis driving created space for Connolly’s jumper just inside the free throw line. A lob by Morgan to Willhite drew Yale up 50-44. This is pertinent because Hummer across the lane passed out to Darrow for three but the open shot popped in and out.
5. Hummer was fouled hard and made one of two free throws to cut the Bulldog advantage down to five. Great offensive swing around the court placed Davis on the left wing for three but his open jumper that’s normally money was counterfeit.
6. Hazel’s spin to the rim rolled off and Davis’ try for an offensive rebound was slapped off Davis by Mangano and out of bounds back to Yale.
Grace slipped nearing half court and Hazel had a drive to the basket. As he went up Willhite arrived for the block as Hazel went down hard. As Princeton inbounded Hummer faced up Mangano and tossed a little jumper in over him for a 50-47 game with 2:41 to go.
Of course, Willhite driving to his left created space for the confident Mangano to launch for three, doubling the Yale lead in timely fashion
Princeton had one more push. Darrow again was off from the arc, but followed his own shot all the way to the glass.
Willhite left his own three try short and Hazel rebounded. Hazel’s three was off but Bray in mid-air grabbed the offensive board and pushed a pass to Darrow for the layup with one hand. It was 53-51.
With the shot clock running down Morgan went to his left on Sherburne defending, by a Mangano screen, around Darrow and got the ball under Hazel to Kreisberg who was fouled by Bray from behind.
Kreisberg made both free throws with :29.9 showing and at the other end Darrow on the left wing could not connect.
The common cord between trips to Cornell and Penn frayed slightly in the final three minutes but the result was equally tart.
A Darrow dunk with just under seven seconds to go brought Princeton back within three but the Tigers never had the ball in their hands with the chance to pull even.
On the floor where they had snipped off the nets after winning an Ivy League playoff last March, Princeton could not slice away all of Yale's lead and saw their realistic chance at a repeat title cut down in the process.
-Princeton was 19-57 as a team (33.3%), 4-21 from three (19.0%) and 12-15 at the line (80.0%) with Hummer accounting for 8-9 (88.9%).
-Yale’s shooting wasn’t much better and dipped to 26.9% in the second half. For the game the Bulldogs made 20-57 (35.1%), 3-20 from three (15.0%) and 15-21 on free throws (71.4%). The difference was 16 offensive boards and a 45-34 advantage on the glass in a game including many rebounds to be had.
-Reaching the thousand point club in the first half, Hummer passed Will Venable in the second and has 1,015 points for his career. 28th in school history and 16 behind his uncle John.
-Davis was 2-12 from the field, 0-5 from three point range.
-Former Princeton coach Sydney Johnson attended the game, arriving with 4:54 left in regulation.