There was a long list of things to like coming out of Princeton's wire-to-wire 10 point win at Elon on Saturday afternoon.
Whether it was Ian Hummer matching his career high of 28 points on 10-16 shooting, Will Barrett's five straight three pointers in the first half or T.J. Bray's dozen turned in entirely after intermission, several of the positives were individual.
But there was also 15 offensive rebounds and a 36-25 overall advantage on the glass for the Tigers, not to mention just three turnovers in the final 20 minutes as the Phoenix attempted to come from 16 down with 8:40 remaining following Hummer's dunk up and over the face of Elon leading scorer Lucas Troutman.
Perhaps the nicest thing on a day with limited complaints was how Princeton handled themselves when Troutman drew his team within seven.
Scoring on their last six possessions beginning with a driving Mack Darrow setting up Denton Koon for a two hand dunk, the Tigers never allowed their hosts a chance to administer additional pressure as the orange and black went 7-8 at the line to boost their chances into the waning seconds.
"I liked the calmness," recognized Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson. "There's a calmness now, which is the kind of progress we needed."
Troutman scored 14 on 13 field goal attempts but also had a 0:5 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Postgame audio from Coach Mitch Henderson, Will Barrett & Ian Hummer plus the rest of this recap can be found after the jump.
Postgame audio - Coach Mitch Henderson, Will Barrett & Ian Hummer:
Jumping center for Princeton. Barrett was able to get the opening tip over Troutman and forward to freshman Hans Brase with his back to the basket as Hummer screamed “BALL!” Brase reacted in time and motored a pass to Hummer cutting diagonally for a basket seconds after play had begun. Princeton would not trail the remaining 39:57.
Jack Isenbarger’s three from the top of the arc was long and the Tigers’ next time with the ball came to a close with the second offensive rebound of the possession allowing Bray to find Barrett on the left wing for his first three.
A minor issue for Princeton early was guarding Elon’s shooters on the perimeter in transition. Ryley Beaumont hit from the right side over Hummer for three and after Brase tipped home a Bray miss on a drive, Sebastian Koch connected on the left wing.
Hummer fought through a double team and scored to make it 9-6 Tigers, before Koch got around Koon to his right on a drive from the left arc and with no help defense soared for a one hand slam that was pretty sensational.
Hummer did a point better, exploding to his left as Tanner Samson was powerless to stop him from the circle under the bucket. Hummer scored, was fouled and added a free throw – shaking off a blow to his face in the process.
Samson was able to curl behind some screens and launch a three on the right side over Barrett’s closing reach with 14:39 left to draw Elon back within one.
Buoyed by three consecutive triples from Barrett, each set up by nifty ball movement, a one point game quickly extended to double figures.
Hummer on the left block to Barrett steeping in on the right side made it 15-11.
Troutman could not answer inside and a pick and roll basket between Clay Wilson and Brendan Connolly was waved off as Connolly rumbled into a charge going up and scoring.
An alley oop by Austin Hamilton to Troutman hiding on the baseline behind the defense spun in, the first bucket by the Phoenix’s leading scorer.
Connolly had the ball at the top of the circle and when Elon went for a steal and could not recover their defensive shape, Barrett was more than happy to fire from the right side for an 18-13 count.
Koon got two off the glass going to his left at the smaller Austin Hamilton and it was Mack Darrow’s turn to find Barrett at the top of the arc. Barrett yelled “Let’s GO!” as he raced back down the floor with his team up 10.
Hummer was un-guardable by Beaumont, who could not match the speed or strength of the Princeton senior. Hummer converted a difficult left baseline jumper over a double team as the shot clock expired and after Beaumont successfully posted Bray it was Hummer using a drop step inside for a 27-17 score.
“We started off the game the right way,” said Henderson. “I thought both Will and Ian were instrumental in our ability to set the tone and then defensively we were strong throughout.”
Beaumont’s left elbow jumper caught the front rim and dropped with 7:32 to play, pulling Elon within eight.
Barrett had the sort of magical half that when the ball popped out of his hands accidentally on the right wing straight to Hamilton the possession ended not with a turnover but with a loose ball coming back to Barrett now behind the defense on the baseline for a one hand slam with his right hand.
A long deuce from Hamilton over a head-shaking Koon made it 31-23.
Cue another Princeton run. The Tigers were able to screen for Hummer curling to the top of the arc who caught a Wilson pass and in one motion converted his second three pointer of the season. Koch’s jumper at the free throw line was short and to be fair so was Barrett’s fifth try from deep. However, the former bounded off the iron and the latter caught the front rim, clipped the glass and dropped for a game best 16 point lead.
“Getting hurt a couple weeks ago was not fun,” Barrett stated after the game. “I've been trying to get into the gym as much as I can and get some shots up. It paid off today. That's the most threes I've ever made in a game before.”
A thigh bruise hurts a whole lot less when you’ve made five in a row from deep.
Elon came right back with five straight as Koch got Barrett in the air faking a jumper and spotted Ryan Winters on the left baseline as that side of the Princeton defense was unaware what was happening.
A Darrow three try spun out and Isenbarger hit from deep to draw the Phoenix within 39-28.
Bray was off the floor during this mini run, having bumped kneecaps with an Elon player going for a rebound. With Bray returning to the floor, Princeton’s next possession ended ignominiously with Hummer getting cut off and unable to find anyone before the shot clock expired.
Brase had a near steal that deflected to half court but Princeton’s defense kept their shape and Brase was able to return to the post and violently block an Isenbarger drive out of bounds. Beaumont was too strong and Bray kept going all the way to the rim and all the way into a charge. When Brase went for the steal on a post feed and Troutman caught the entry, turned and dunked immediately with one hand Elon was within nine.
Barrett to Hummer hesitating and scoring was much-needed, coming before a play where Bray and Barrett both watched a Koch three as it came high off the rim and Beaumont raced in for a follow.
Koon’s left wing three was short and while Hummer was able to muscle up a follow that ticked the rim twice it wouldn’t go and come halftime Princeton’s lead stood 41-32.
Barrett had 17 at the break, Hummer 16. Koon (six) and Brase (two) were the only other players to score for the Tigers, who shot 16-33 overall (48.5%), a remarkable 6-8 from three (75.0%) and 3-3 at the line (100.0%).
The Tigers grabbed 10 offensive boards, 10 defensive boards and outrebounded Elon 20-10.
The Phoenix, led by Beaumont with nine, were a tidy 13-26 from the field (50.0%), 4-9 from three (44.4%) and 2-2 on free throws (100.0%).
Trying to carry their momentum through halftime, a feed from Hamilton to Troutman rolled behind the Elon center and right to Brase.
Brase also tried to set up Hummer with a lob to the post and Hummer got a friendly whistle only because he missed his shot. Hummer split a pair.
A zip of a pass via Isenbarger to Troutman resulted in another two-handed flush. Hummer got those points back by abusing Beaumont some more, fed by Brase off the far block as he slashed to the rim.
Hamilton banking in a three with the shot clock expiring seemed to inspire the crowd, not to mention making the score 44-37.
Hummer went right back at Beaumont, attacking to his right before the Elon forward could get wise.
Troutman’s help defense block of Brase inside served as a perfect pass to Bray in rhythm from the left side of the arc, which made it 49-37 Tigers.
This is where the score sat for over three minutes before Troutman scored to his right off the glass over Darrow. During this stretch Barrett missed from three for the first time and an official warned Henderson after he cursed in disbelief when Brase was tied up from behind, creating a jump ball that went Elon’s way.
Up 49-39, Hummer picked up a loose ball and launched an outlet pass to Koon catching the feed over his shoulder behind the Phoenix defense. Isenbarger fouled from behind and Koon, who had missed just twice at the line to this point in the season, split a pair.
Bray to his right spinning in the lane scored in traffic to make it 52-39 with 12:04 showing. Kevin Blake extended his arm to avoid a block try and scored to his right off the glass over Koon to earn two back.
This time Bray wormed his way into the lane and bounced a pass to Koon who shocked by missing both his free throws after Blake fouled him. Koon dropped to 24-29 on free throws this season (82.8%) with his trio of misses.
In the final 10 minutes of the game the lineup of Hummer, Darrow, Barrett, Koon and Bray did most of the work and earned most of the reward.
Beaumont going to his left lost the ball into the air, which Darrow secured and then it was Darrow for three from the right side as the ball went from Hummer on the left block to Connolly in the center of the lane bypassing his own look to his classmate from the wing.
Elon tried a bit of zone, which had a disastrous result when Darrow saw the second line of defense napping and fed Hummer going up on the left baseline. Hummer rose and kept rising, dunking directly in the face of Troutman with one hand. The entire bench involuntarily rose for the occasion - and rightfully so.
Still, back answered the Phoenix with seven straight. A shake move by Troutman over Connolly ended with an accurate jump hook. Wilson could not reward a stellar skip pass out of the post by Hummer with a three and Isenbarger was fouled by Darrow on an extended drive. Hummer’s latest attack at Beaumont was too strong and Samson on the left side in transition for three made it a 57-48 sudden change as Elon called time.
Princeton steadied. Bray to Hummer in the lane was slapped by Troutman going up, converting both tries. Darrow’s strong post defense kept Troutman at bay, unable to score on a second jump hook. Bray kept going to the rim as Hummer slid up top to create a driving lane for a 61-48 score with 6:11 to go.
Four straight points by Isenbarger – a pair of free throws and a layup, got Elon back within nine. Koon going to his left was cut off and slid to a stop, regained composure and split two defenders with a bounce pass to Darrow alone on the opposite block for a layup.
Elon kept coming as Isenbarger kept scoring. A drive to his right was followed by a dish to Troutman after Koon was tied up on a feed. For just the second time in the half the Phoenix were within seven.
Darrow drove to his right into the lane, stopped shrewdly before he might charge and dropped a pass down to Koon coming up the right baseline for a two hand slam with 1:56 left.
While Isenbarger hit for three on a drive and dish from Samson 16 seconds later, Elon was heading into foul mode. The first whistle, 90’ from the bucket, put Hummer at the line for a one-and-one. Hummer was 8-15 from the line against the Phoenix last year at Jadwin Gym and with that memory not fully shaken, Hummer converted both his tries.
“I think we redeemed ourselves today,” said Hummer, who personally was 7-9 at the stripe. “I thought we played pretty well from top to bottom.”
Elon’s next possession was a perfect one…for the Princeton defense. It took up a lot of time (:29), it ended without a score (Isenbarger’s three from the right side was long) and it put the Tigers back at the line (Bray was fouled by Samson on the rebound).
This sequence was an especially nice one in Henderson’s eyes. “I was really proud of'm watching'm move and using our length which is our strength,” he said.
It was Bray’s turn to convert both sides of his one-and-one, which moved the lead up to 69-59 with 1:06 on the clock.
Isenbarger’s wild drive hit off the basket’s undercarriage and was secured by Bray. Bray made his front end but missed his second, which Barrett slapped out to Bray - who this time converted both chances. Princeton’s lead was 13 and Henderson readied Ameer Elbuluk, Mike Washington, Jr., Chris Clement, Isaac Serwanga and Bobby Garbade for the day’s finial 16 seconds.
Princeton played with a certain necessary calmness in their final litmus test before the open of Ivy action and head back to New Jersey in the calm before the storm of conference play that begins next weekend with a visit from arch rival Penn.
Another positive step in a consistently winning direction.
-Princeton shot 24-56 overall (44.6%), 8-14 from three (57.1%) and 16-23 at the line (69.6%), somewhere the Tigers had a 10 point scoring advantage on Elon.
-The Phoenix made 25-53 field goals (47.2%), 8-20 from behind the arc (40.0%) and a perfect 6-6 on free throws (100.0%).
-Mack Darrow’s five points, three assists, two steals and no turnovers in 20 minutes was a nice line. Funny to hear both Darrow’s coach and teammates urge him to shoot the ball more during interviews this week.
-Brase finished the game 1-9 from the floor but made up for an inability to finish in traffic with nine rebounds and three assists in 24 minutes. The Tigers are 3-1 with the freshman starting at center.
-Everyone not named Hans Brase combined to shoot 24-47 for Princeton on the day (51.1%).
-Nine of Isenbarger’s 15 came in the final eight minutes of play.
-Elon’s gym was as nice a 1,500 seat facility as I imagine I’ll ever be lucky to set foot in. A lovely renovation job.