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Princeton 62 Lafayette 48.

Box Score

Postgame audio - Coach Sydney Johnson, Patrick Saunders, Douglas Davis & Dan Mavraides:

Princeton had sunk to a woeful 38.5% shooting percentage for the season after yet another cold half to start Sunday’s early evening game against Lafayette.

The second twenty minutes were another story - the Tigers’ best performance from the floor (and most points in a half) since the start of the opener against Central Michigan.

Converting 62.5% of their shots, and eight of 12 three pointers, Princeton reversed an early five point second half hole and pulled away from the Leopards for the 62-48 win.

Douglas Davis hit seven times from outside for 23 points, his second straight 20+ point effort. Davis’ seven threes were the most for a Princeton player since Noah Savage connected on seven occasions against Brown in a February 2008 overtime loss.

"These guys should be proud of themselves," said Princeton head coach Sydney Johnson following the end of his team's four game losing streak. "The guts that they showed over these last two games during a tough stretch - to respond how they did against Rutgers and Lafayette, I have nothing but praise."

Patrick Saunders matched a career high with 15 and Dan Mavraides got back on track with 13.

Jared Mintz was Lafayette’s lone double figure representative, scoring 17.

Following the game, Johnson felt the difference between tonight's victory and the Tigers' loss at Rutgers was the fact that this time out Princeton made shots while on Thursday they did not.

It was difficult to agree with that assessment.

Versus the Leopards in the second half, the shots felt like they were part of the offensive flow and Princeton players caught the ball in comfortable positions. There was a rhythm to this win that was absent against the Scarlet Knights. Yes, the jump shots went down and in this recent losing stretch that was not the case, but the shots looked like the shots you wanted most of Princeton's players to be hoisting.

Preceding a pair of long, icy, scoreless patches that both teams suffered through, Princeton got to the free throw line on each of their first two possessions.

Pawel Buczak saved a poor pass by Marcus Schroeder, which bounced opportunely to Buczak on his way to the basket. Buczak was fouled and made both free throws.

Mavraides curled to the bucket and received a hook pass from Buczak, fouled by Jim Mower as he went up. Mavraides made one of two at the line and the Tigers led 3-2.

Mintz stepped under Saunders and gave Lafayette a one point edge with 17:46 left. The Leopards would not score for over seven minutes - but during this spell the Tigers could only generate a four point lead.

Mavraides swung the ball to his left around the horn and Davis hit for the first time from outside, his jumper coming from the corner in front of the Lafayette bench.

Buczak came over to help on defense as Michael Grunder drove down the lane and blocked a shot back towards center court. Mavraides picked it up and drove coast to coast off the glass.

Up 8-4 six minutes in, it was now Princeton's turn to freeze the scoreboard. Seven minutes would pass before the Tigers scored again.

Midway through the half Mintz stripped Buczak of the ball, which led to Mower hitting off the glass.

Marek Koltun backed Buczak all the way under the glass for an easy lay-in and the game was even at eight.

Darion Benbow's line drive jumper from just inside the free throw line put Lafayette back in front.

Davis caught on the wing and fired in his second three at the 7:34 mark to temporarily place Princeton up 11-10, but Lafayette would score the game's next eight.

Davis stole the ball from Benbow, but Mower took it right back as Davis attempted to dribble down the floor. As the action moved back to the northern end of Jadwin Gym, Jeff Kari knocked down his team's first triple of the game.

A long two from Ben Wheeler made it a 18-11 game with 5:38 left in the half. Princeton called time.

Out of the stoppage, Tony Johnson nearly got his hand on a steal for Lafayette, but the pass on the perimeter reached Davis, who stepped in for a long two point jumper.

Princeton freshman center Brendan Connolly, on the floor for the first time, was doubled on the right baseline and lost the ball - right to Saunders under the basket, who laid it home while drawing a foul from Kari. Connolly's handoff to Mavraides for a deep three behind the screen sent Princeton back in front, 19-18. Now it was Lafayette who asked to stop play.

A Mintz drive at Connolly was the final basket of the half. Lafayette could have increased their advantage with three seconds to go, as Saunders made a very poor decision, fouling Ryan Willen from behind as he rebounded an errant Mavraides jumper. Time stopped and the Willen was rewarded with a one-and-one opportunity, but Willen missed his chance and Mavraides rebounded to end the opening frame.

Princeton trailed by two despite 31.8% first half shooting, 11 turnovers and 4-7 free throw shooting.

Coming into Sunday, Lafayette was averaging 7.75 three pointers per game, but the Leopards were limited to just the single trey in the opening twenty minutes. The Tigers had done a good job of staying with Lafayette's shooters and not following cutters to the basket.

That defensive awareness was not present on Lafayette's first possession of the second half. Schroeder followed a Leopard cutter to the hoop, which opened up a space for Gruner to step into and can a three point shot.

Schroeder atoned for his defensive lapse with a three of his open, stepping to his left after receiving a pass from Buczak out of the post.

Buczak kept Princeton's next possession alive by slapping out a long rebound into Schroeder's hands and Davis passed up a contested three to find Saunders open on his left for a triple that put the Tigers up 28-27.

Benbow's jumper from the free throw line helped Lafayette to a three point lead with 16:03 to go, but Mavraides evened the scoreboard when Buczak recognized his teammate open in the far corner from the free throw line extended.

Mintz stepped outside for three and Davis countered from the top of the arc.

Mavraides drove left at Johnson to make it 36-34 Tigers, but a catch and shoot three by Wheeler returned the lead to Lafayette.

Inbounding under the Princeton basket, Schroeder caught Johnson staring into space and passed the ball past Johnson's head to Davis setting up in the right corner in front of the Princeton bench for his fifth three pointer of the ballgame.

Leading by two, with the shot clock running down, Schroeder attempted a drive to the rim that was blocked off of Schroeder's body. A shot clock violation appeared inevitable, if the ball didn't just bounce out of bounds that is - but Schroeder somehow came up with possession and had the ability to flick it up and in a fraction before the buzzer sounded.

Koltun's first free throw of the year in four attempts hit the backboard hinge and bounced true, but his second klanged off the mark.

In the same spot where he hit a three point shot earlier in the half, Saunders faked an outside shot and instead drove down the left baseline for a reverse drive to extend the lead to five.

After Mintz made one of two at the line, Buczak finally scored on a post move comparable to what he was able to pull off inside as a junior. Buczak spun away from the center of the lane and hooked it home with his right hand.

Lafayette was within 45-41 with 7:19 to go on a Gruner basket when Princeton went on a decisive run to create distance.

Using Saunders as the center of Princeton's offensive sets, with the sophomore forward posting inside, the Tigers ran off seven straight. The decision to move Saunders to the low block was a big reason why the Tigers were able to build this lead. Saunders' fake gave him room on Benbow for two and Saunders' right-handed deep jump hook over Benbow in the center of the lead made it an eight point lead.

"I think a lot of that was our guys around the perimeter were moving and keeping their guys occupied," the humble Saunders said. "If they were open, you can kick it to them."

Mavraides' diagonal cut freed space for Davis outside and Schroeder found him for three pointer number six. Princeton had a 52-41 edge with 4:24 to go.

Mintz scored on a pick and roll and was fouled by Saunders to bring Lafayette back within eight, but Schroeder found Davis on the wing setting up for his seventh deep jumper and the lead was back up to 11.

Davis located Saunders with less than a minute to go on the left wing for Princeton's twelfth three, which generated the final score and the game's largest lead. The Tigers had closed on a 17-7 run over the final seven minutes to put away Lafayette.

While Princeton fans might have difficulty agreeing with Johnson's assessment that the difference between this win and the last four losses was as simple as just "making shots," they would certainly find what took place in the second half tonight at Jadwin most agreeable.


-Princeton finished the game shooting 47.8% from the floor (22-46), 12-23 from three (52.2%) and 6-9 at the line (66.7%). Lafayette ended up 18-47 (38.3%) overall, 4-12 from deep (33.3%) and 8-12 from the stripe (66.7%).

-The Tigers turned the ball over just six times in the second half.

-For the first time this season, Princeton did not get any points from its bench. Five Tiger subs combined to go 0-3 from the floor.

-Davis and Schroeder each played all 40 minutes for Princeton.

-The Tigers' 12 three pointers were a season high and the most since a 72-61 loss to Cornell in February 2008.

-Sitting at 38.5% for the season from the floor at halftime, Princeton was up to 40.2% on the year following the game.

-Here's one for you: Of the 10 Princeton players to make a free throw this season, seven of those players are shooting better than 80.0% at the line.

-After four games in 13 days, Princeton now has a week off before traveling to UNC Greensboro next Sunday afternoon.

David Lewis said,

December 6, 2009 @ 8:45 pm

Great second half. The problem I see, however, is that the Tigers get no easy baskets- no fast break points, no layups (not a single backdoor) and no putbacks. They also get very little scoring from Finley or Buczack in the paint. This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on them to make perimeter shots. I foresee that some nights are going to be like Rutgers and others like tonight. I just wish the Tigers drove to the basket more and had more inside scoring.

Jon Solomon said,

December 6, 2009 @ 8:54 pm

Princeton got 16 points in the paint, 36 points from the arc and six points at the free throw line.

The Tigers' first two possessions were drives (Buczak, Mavraides) that resulted in three made free throws.

While I too wish Princeton was getting more points from their three centers, I thought there were a lot of drives on Sunday and good things came from many of those drives (including setting up open three point shots on the perimeter).

Robert Enoch, Jr. said,

December 7, 2009 @ 12:20 am

I'm glad to see the much improved shooting today. Over 50% from beyond the arc was especially impressive.

I listened on radio but didn't get to watch; did anyone get the sense that the improved field goal shooting percentages were due to improved team member execution on offense, or simply because Lafayette's defense is that much weaker than those of schools like Rutgers, Cal, and GW?

David Lewis said,

December 7, 2009 @ 1:00 am

I missed the first two possessions of the game. 16 points in the paint is not enough. In the second half Lafayette did not have a foul against them until late and only started fouling when they had to get us to the line. Neither Davis nor Schroeder drove the lane once. In one stretch in the first half we went scoreless for seven minutes. We seem to have those droughts every game, especially against zone defenses. I just think the team would be more consistent offensively if our guards drove to the basket more and our centers took more hook shots from in close. We are not going to shoot 67% in one half very often.

Brian Martin said,

December 7, 2009 @ 10:59 am

Hard to complain about a 14-point win and 40-point 2nd half. Princeton ran the offense, ran clock, and Davis and Mavraides hit open threes. Saunders did have several drives in the 2nd half. I remember a short pull-up jumper and a reverse layup. Buczak made a low-post hook shot when given time and space to back down a single defender. If Lafayette had closed out on Davis, he would have beaten any of their defenders off the dribble. The team also did a good job getting defensive stops down the stretch.

larry said,

December 7, 2009 @ 10:22 pm

Great 2nd half. Not so great: eight turn overs and just one assist by our Centers.

Jon Solomon said,

December 7, 2009 @ 10:29 pm

Larry, I had not noticed until right now, but Finley has a ghastly 2:17 assist-to-turnover ratio - which makes Buczak's 11:19 look decent by comparison!

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