Postgame audio - Coach Mitch Henderson, Douglas Davis & Mack Darrow:
While one of his teammates previously nicknamed him “The Mack-sheen” (which sounds better than it reads) it might be time to start calling Princeton’s junior forward Knack Darrow.
On Friday night versus Columbia, Darrow had the knack in his team’s 77-66 win.
The knack to make big plays, as he did at the end of the first half with a steal and a three point shot in the final 17 seconds to tie the game at 27.
The knack to convert big baskets, like the one he hit from the top of the arc with 12:22 left in the second half to place the Tigers in front for good.
The knack to grab offensive boards to keep possessions alive. Princeton scored a staggering 12 straight occasions with the ball to end the game and Darrow preserved the pill for the orange and black three times due to putbacks crashing the glass.
The knack to make important free throws. Darrow was a perfect 9-9 at the line as Princeton kept Columbia at a three possession length the final 8:55.
By the end Darrow had a career high 19 points and eight rebounds.
“Mack is our most efficient player by far,” said Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson, a self-professed ‘numbers guy.’ “He makes everybody better.”
Lost in this performance was Douglas Davis’ 20 tally output wherein he caught and passed assistant coach Brian Earl for fifth on Princeton’s scoring list.
Ian Hummer started slow but finished with 16 of his own at the close of the night.
Princeton’s defense took center Mark Cisco and guard Brian Barbour’s preferences away. While Barbour was scored 22 they weren’t an easy 22 (eight came during a desperate final three minutes) and Cisco was not a factor either scoring or rebounding.
Darrow entered off the bench for the second straight game as his roommate Brendan Connolly got the start. Connolly lost the opening tip to Cisco and Columbia’s first time down the floor the ponytailed Blaise Staab scored over T.J. Bray in the post.
A posting Hummer waited for Alex Rosenberg to sag to him and found Patrick Saunders outside for a long jumper with his foot on the arc.
Rosenberg was able to drive from the wing for a 4-2 score, which Connolly equalized taking a Hummer feed and laying the ball home from under the rim, his lone field goal.
Great assistance from Saunders created a turnover. Cisco did not see Saunders approaching and turned into him down low, spooked into throwing a pass out of bounds.
“The help defense on Cisco was great,” Darrow stated. “Every time he caught it guys were digging and he wasn’t as comfortable off the dribble as some other guys are maybe.”
Connolly’s screen freed Davis for a long deuce.
Hummer boycotted Staab’s layup try with his palm but Davis’ three in transition was off the mark. Meiko Lyles slashed for a reverse layup and the game’s third tie.
Barbour finally hit the scoreboard, driving while fouled by Bray for a three point play. Out of a media time out Henderson replaced Bray with Jimmy Sherburne who did a nice job cutting off Barbour’s penetration while staying tight enough on the perimeter that open jumpers did not follow.
Denton Koon, also in at the stoppage, was too strong on the far block but Hummer was right there to clean up for his first basket on the opposite block.
John Daniels found Staab cutting for an 11-8 game.
Davis split two approaching defenders on the perimeter and stopped in front of the next wave of Lions for a free throw jumper.
Daniels lost the ball on a lefty drive and Darrow went to the floor to tie up Daniels and give the ball back to Princeton.
Davis stole the ball from Barbour and tried to lead a fast break, calling his own number instead of passing to Koon in tandem on the left. Davis could not finish his approach and Princeton remained down one.
Koon changed that the next time the Tigers had the ball, lowering his shoulder to his left as Cisco fouled him. Koon made both shots from the stripe.
As Princeton dropped into a press, Chris Crockett’s three on the right wing spun out.
Sherburne was 0-12 from three point range in almost three seasons as a Tiger. His 13th attempt caught the front lip of the rim and dropped snugly home for a 15-11 Princeton lead.
Crockett up top got three back and following a Koon charge Van Green, who did not play in the teams’ first meeting, used a jump step on the right baseline to finish in traffic. Jones also picked up a loose ball Hummer had last and was off the other way for his second basket.
Darrow, like Hummer before him, waited for the defense to sag inside and set up Davis from well beyond the arc for a tying three.
Princeton played good defense their next time down and as the shot clock expired Rosenberg’s three point desperation over Connolly’s reach was so off target it clanged well to the right of the rim, accidentally catching the glass and deflecting in.
Hummer went strong at Rosenberg for a pair.
Lyles and Green missed from outside, sandwiched between a far corner three try from Bray.
Bray was able to throw a nifty pass to Saunders wrapping around the basket for a layup and a 22-21 Tiger lead with 5:17 left before halftime.
Connolly tossed a pass up to where a cutting Hummer had been, allowing Barbour a head of steam to the basket in the other direction.
Showing good footwork, Connolly spun towards the basket then back away from Cory Osetkowski for a foul. When play resumed Connolly missed both his free throws, negating the fancy dancing. Connolly also fouled Barbour trying to block a layup try and the 90%+ free throw shooter put his team up three with a pair.
Koon’s attempt to his left over Cisco was short, then Saunders stepped in front of a driving Rosenberg for a charge. Bray got too ambitious on a feed to Davis down the lane and as Davis bit for a fake Lyles was pure on some midrange action floating left. With under 90 seconds until intermission Princeton trailed by five.
Davis to the rim was fouled by Barbour, his second personal. Davis made both free throws and the score was 27-24.
Crockett’s three sailed long and Henderson yelled “Two for one!” to his team. Princeton didn’t get a shot away quickly enough and Saunders’ outside look was well short. With three seconds between the shot clock and the halftime, Columbia ran down some clock and as Barbour was starting a drive called time out.
Darrow had as nice a :17.8 seconds as you could ask anyone to have. First he grabbed a Crockett post pass out of the air for a steal and popped outside for a Bray pass and tossed in a three pointer right before time was up. Princeton and Columbia were even at 27.
The Tigers shot 10-24 in the opening frame (41.7%), 3-8 from distance (37.5) and 4-6 on free throws (66.7%). Davis had nine points to lead all scorers.
Columbia was 11-24 (45.8%), 2-7 from three (28.6%) and 3-3 at the line. The same team that went +14 on the glass and grabbed 14 offensive boards in New York did not get a second chance in the initial 20 minutes.
Barbour got cut off by a pair of Tigers on the far baseline when play resumed but Staab sneaked behind an unsuspecting defense and dunked with two hands after Barbour realized what was developing.
Bray created the game’s seventh tie by driving agilely at Lyles.
Staab, who didn’t score in the teams’ first meeting, continued his solid play by grabbing a weakside offensive rebound over Saunders and getting fouled, adding two at the line.
Bray’s runner was no good but Connolly tipped the ball out to Hummer and on the reset Bray rained in a three on the right side.
Cisco finally scored as Connolly went for a block and after Davis caught front rim on a long two Barbour to Lyles cutting on the bounce made it 35-32 Lions.
For the second time Koon, Darrow and Sherburne entered off the bench and good fortune followed. A posting Darrow left the ball for a cutting Hummer and while the strong layup rattled out as Cisco fouled, Hummer added two free throws.
Staab up-and-undered Darrow after an offensive board, then Davis and Koon combined for a three point shot by the former set up via a screen and pass from the latter.
Barbour broke the 37 all tie with two free throws as Koon fouled him on a spin with the shot clock lowering. Darrow to Davis on the right side pulling the trigger for two made it 39-39.
Sherburne drove and was cut off by Staab for a charge outside of the circle with 12:30 to go. Why is that significant? Because from this point forward, things got exceptionally fun for Princeton offensively.
The Tigers threw a touch of pressure at Columbia and as Sherburne and Hummer swiped at a pass coming to mid court Sherburne got a piece. As Bray pushed forward Darrow heading back up the court caught up in time to connect from outside the arc. Princeton had a lead they would not hand back.
Up 42-40 after Staab made one of two free throws, Sherburne down the left baseline looked to be going up for a layup with several Columbia players in the neighborhood until he spotted Hummer approaching on the opposite baseline for a short jumper.
Cisco, as he is known to do, knocked down a far baseline jumper with the shot clock low. Davis penetrated and Sherburne slashed in turn, fouled by Staab. Sherburne made both his attempts.
Getting to the line for a dubious one and one after bumping into Darrow guarding him from behind, Cisco missed the front end and Hummer rebounded. It was also Hummer with a jumper trailing Bray to his left providing Princeton their biggest lead of the night at 48-42.
Another loose ball meant more Tigers on the floor. Down went Sherburne and Bray with Bray getting possession and calling time before he was tied up. As Columbia went into some form of zone Bray misfired on the left wing but Hummer kept the ball with Princeton and found Koon who could not finish as Daniels fouled him. Koon made one of two from the line.
Green missed a clean look and Koon inside guarded by the much smaller Crockett did not.
Jones was able to change his scoop in the air to end a 12-3 stretch and make it a 51-44 game.
The offense kept clicking. Davis threw a pass over his head to Darrow stepping into a shot up top. While the three didn’t reward an excellent pass THIS WAS THE ONLY POSSESSION WHERE PRINCETON DID NOT WALK AWAY WITH POINTS IN THE GAME’S FINAL 12 MINUTES.
(Sorry, my caps lock stuck for a spell.)
Barbour’s runner brought Columbia within five but unless you’re somehow outscoring them 3-2 each time down, you aren’t going to catch up if you can’t stop your opponent.
Koon, who only has dunks and layups to his name as a freshman, nearly got a free throw jumper to go. The ball rolled delicately off the rim and there was Darrow putting it back as Daniels fouled him.
Barbour was fouled by Sherburne on the floor and converted his initial look but then missed for the first time in seven tries.
Davis created a slim window with a stutter and canned a jumper, tying him with Brian Earl at 1,428 career points.
Again Columbia could only muster a single point as Staab split a pair from the line.
Hummer’s far baseline jumper was short and Darrow outworked two Lions for tip rebound, fouled by Rosenberg. With two conversions it was 58-48.
Barbour got to the line for two on the Columbia side of the scoreboard. While Davis was short from three once more Darrow did it inside, fouled by Lyles and making both shots.
Lyles’ three late in the shot clock over Bray was short. Koon looked unsure just inside the arc so he waited for a more proficient jump shooter in Hummer to flash to the free throw line for a jumper. The lead was 12.
Crockett splashed a three after his team got a pair of offensive boards but Princeton’s offense was not going to be slowed or stopped. Davis pulled up from the free throw line passing Coach Earl in the process.
Barbour and Hummer traded pairs of free throws evenly.
Hummer’s lefty hook over Staab came between threes for Barbour and Crockett.
With just under two minutes to go Davis tried to ice the result out of the far corner from three but was off target. Who else but Darrow grabbed the rebound and put it home.
“I really felt like Mack, his offensive rebounds in the second half were the key to the game,” Henderson said afterwards. “It sort of blew it open a little bit for us. “
Princeton made 7-8 at the line in the final 1:05 (Darrow 2-2, Bray 1-2, Davis 2-2, Darrow 2-2) to secure the season sweep of Columbia.
The droll, self-deprecating and dry Darrow explained the nickname bestowed upon him by Will Barrett thusly: “I’m awkward and I’m robotic. I don’t move like a Division I athlete and I think you see that – but hey, it works!”
What Darrow conventionally lacks, he makes up for with a ready capacity that is hard to analyze or teach.
-Winning their third straight conference game, the Tigers shot 14-23 from the floor in the second half (60.9%). Of their nine misses, six resulted in offensive rebounds.
-For the night Princeton was 24-47 (51.1%), 6-16 from three (37.5%) and a season best 23-27 on free throws (85.2%).
-Columbia made 23-50 shots (46.0%), 5-14 outside the arc (35.7%) and 15-20 at the line (75.0%).
-In addition to Barbour’s 22, Staab had 12 and Crockett 11 for the Lions.
-Princeton scored 1.69 points per possession in the second half. The Tigers had just two turnovers in the vesper frame.
-With 1,432 points Davis is now nine behind Craig Robinson for fourth on the Princeton all-time scoring chart.
-Ian Hummer passed Sydney Johnson (1,044) and Dan Mavraides (1,054) on Friday and is now 25th on the same list. Next up for Hummer is Armond Hill (1,057).