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Princeton 45 Wagner 42.

Box Score

Postgame audio - Coach Sydney Johnson, Kareem Maddox & Dan Mavraides:

Playing for the first time in 14 days, Princeton came close to suffering what could have been an embarrassing loss to the woeful Wagner Seahawks, rallying from a twelve point second half hole to win their sixth of the season.

Douglas Davis found Kareem Maddox alone by the basket for a two-handed dunk with just under six seconds left to bail out the Tigers, fouled by Tyler Murray on the stuff.

Maddox’s three point play capped a six point Tiger run in the game’s final minute. It was Maddox's only basket on the night.

"I think they were going for a steal to try and get the win," Maddox said modestly after Princeton's fourth straight victory. "There was one person open and it happened to be me."

Princeton junior Dan Mavraides was 5-11 from three point range, on his way to a season high 21 points. Mavraides tied the score at 42 with a deep triple off the left wing with :47 to go. The rest of the Tiger squad went 0-16 behind the line.

Michael Orock scored 19 inside to pace Wagner.

If Princeton was rusty after their longer-than-intended hiatus following the postponement of a pre-Christmas trip to Maine, Mavraides' shooting hid it well. Three straight three point shots by Mavriades, hitting from the far corner, the opposite corner and the right wing provided the Tigers with an early 9-2 edge.

The last of these three jumpers was the result of some keen ball movement. Center Pawel Buczak passed out of the post to Marcus Schroeder up top, who went sideways to Davis. Mavraides was the recipient of a Davis lateral and connected from outside.

Leading by four, Princeton turned sloppy with the basketball. Wagner was equally poor with their possessions. Buczak traveled. Davis and Ian Hummer trapped T.J. Czeski on the sideline and forced the ball free for Princeton. A Schroeder pass was picked off by Murray, who double dribbled on his drive.

Davis saw his pass to the wing intercepted by Josh Thompson and Hummer blocked Thompson's attempted layup well out of bounds, earning a standing ovation from the Princeton bench. Davis stole the ball from Chris Martin and was fouled on his way to the basket.

There had been six turnovers in 70 seconds of play.

Buczak posted Thompson, and with the Princeton coaching staff yelling "you! you!" as Buczak was guarded one-on-one inside, he scored to make it 11-5 Tigers.

A long jumper by Murray brought Wagner back within one, but this basket was offset by Buczak's putback of a Schroeder missed three.

Hummer found Mavraides in the paint and Mavraides was fouled by Doug Elwell, making both of his attempts at the line.

Wagner ran off eight straight, as Orock began to manhandle Princeton inside. After a near steal by Davis, Orock scored down low. Following a Mavraides miss that went long, Orock went around Hummer to the opposite side of the rim for two. Orock snatched an off target turnaround jumper by Thompson and scored while being fouled by Patrick Saunders. The Seahawks had their first lead of the game with 7:56 remaining in the half

Davis picked up his second personal foul, holding on a screen, and went to the bench for the rest of the period. Freshman guard Jimmy Sherburne, who had finally been medically cleared earlier in the week replaced Davis and saw the first playing time of his Princeton career.

Schroeder, who had four first half turnovers, never gave up on the play after throwing the ball to Wagner's Ryan Conrad. Schroeder got back to block Danny Mundweiler's three point shot out of bounds while running past Mundweiler in the near corner.

Thompson went right at Zach Finley, in for Buczak after Buczak picked up his second personal, and could not knock down the step back jumper. Orock cleaned it up and Wagner led 20-17.

Wagner did not check Mavraides on defense and Mavraides made the Seahawks pay for their defensive lapse, wide open at the top of the key for his fourth three of the half. Princeton's bench called time out to set up.

Orock added Finley to the lengthy list of Tigers with two personals, driving and drawing contact, making both free throws.

Finley in the paint found Schroeder alone under the backboard for an easy layup that tied the score at the break.

The 2-11 Seahawks, who lost to NJIT by seven at home on Monday, opened the second half on an 11-0 run. What began with an Orock dunk in transition was followed by Orock spinning away from Buczak for two. Thompson eventually sized up a baseline jumper over Buczak and Sydney Johnson called time out three minutes into the half.

Hummer looked to drive, but Clifton Spiller cut him off and Hummer shuffled his feet.

Spiller had more success inside for Wagner to take the lead up to eight and Murray's three in transition after a Hummer pass was blocked sent Princeton down 11 against an opponent ranked 343rd out of 347 Division I schools in the latest RPI.

The Wagner lead extended to 36-24 at the 11:31 mark when Elwell connected from outside.

Extending their defensive pressure and putting Davis tight on his man for all 94 feet helped the Tigers find their missing spark.

Hummer located a cutting Mavraides for a scoop that brought the Tigers within 10.

While the officiating on both ends of the floor left much to be desired, and both coaches complained loudly about blown calls all game, something Wagner coach Mike Deane said must have rubbed the officiating crew the wrong way. With his team in possession of the ball, Deane was called for a technical foul and Davis made one of his two free throws.

When play resumed Davis poked the ball free from Mundweiler, raced ahead of his man, slowed down for a second to draw contact and scored while going up for the layup. One free throw later and it was suddenly a six point game.

"Dougie was out there taking initiative and guarding their point guard," said Mavraides of the necessary change in defensive strategy that aided the Princeton rally. "He flustered their primary ball handler and that gave us all confidence. That definitely provided a spark for our team."

The pressure continued to unnerve Wagner. Schroeder, who dove to the hardwood repeatedly in the second half of the second half, alertly decided to not let a Seahawk backcourt violation roll out of bounds, instead tracking down the loose ball in the far corner and driving baseline for a layup that pulled Princeton within four.

The Tigers teased the Jadwin crowd the next time they had the ball. Mavraides' three was off the mark, but Finley went low to keep the possession alive. An open Schroeder try could not go down and Finley attempted to control another loose ball. A fortunate deflection came to Davis, who jumped into the lane and went up for a snaking layup that just banked off the iron. Hummer's tip follow also rolled away and Wagner still led by four.

Just in off the bench, Kareem Maddox poked an entry pass loose and controlled the steal on the near sideline. Davis faked a three and pulled up for a long two that made it 36-34.

Maddox had a chance to give Princeton the lead for the first time in the half, but his far corner three was off line. Conrad saw a better look that met with a similar fate and Finley rebounded.

Davis stepped into the lane and his push shot found the bottom of the net to tie the score with 5:40 left.

A scoop shot by Mavraides ended the 14-0 Princeton push and the Tigers called time now up by two.

During the Tiger run, Wagner had eight turnovers and only attempted two field goals.

Orock's hook attempt over Princeton center Brendan Connolly was short, but Thompson tipped the ball home with one hand. Davis could not connect from outside and Orock got deep possession on Hummer down low and scored to return the lead to Wagner.

Trailing by two, Maddox drove into the center of the lane, hesitated for a second to get Orock in the air and drew the whistle. Maddox was long on his first try but true on the second and Princeton was down 40-39.

A high leaping elbow jumper by Elwell was no good and Davis rebounded.

Mavraides was wide open in front of the Princeton bench for three but could not send the Tigers back in front. Orock had more success, rolling around Buczak and his four personal fouls for the score.

An entry pass down the left baseline by Mavraides to Buczak was poked away and Wagner had the ball, the lead and the clock in their favor. Out of a Seahawk time out with 1:25 showing, Buczak was able to body Orock away from the basket and Orock's fadeaway bank shot that would have made it a two possession game came up short.

With less than a minute separating Princeton from a crushing close to 2009, Mavraides took the ball on the left wing, realized that he was inexplicably open a step behind the line and fluidly fired to tie.

There were 11 seconds separating the shot clock and the game clock. A pass in to Orock with :33 to go ended up in Mavraides' hands and the Tigers now could hold for the game's final try. Princeton called their fifth time out with :27.6 left.

Schroeder inbounded to Davis in the backcourt, who got the ball to Buczak at the three point line extended. Wagner kept trying to trap the Tiger with the ball, attempting to disrupt the set play. Princeton was content to play keepaway for a spell, before Davis drove the right baseline as time dwindled and spotted Maddox free on the opposite side for the easy dunk. Maddox slammed the ball home as Murray bodied him with :05.2 remaining.

"I think we had a couple open shots but we were trying to leave as little time on the clock as possible," Maddox said. "I thought we passed some open looks up. I just cut and Doug saw me under the basket. It was sight by him. We were lucky to get the win that way."

Maddox was good on the free throw that followed.

Martin tried to drive the length of the floor and get up a three that would have forced overtime, but Schroeder poked the ball loose and Maddox dribbled ahead to run the final second off the board.

Shame avoided, Johnson chose to use this game as a comparison to his first season as Princeton's coach.

"I don't want to stick our chests out too much, but two years ago we would have lost this game. We certainly would have lost this game," said Johnson. "I can't say that we're a great team right now, but we are better than we have been in a couple years."

"Obviously, we did not play a flawless game." Johnson added. "I'm going to get very upset about their lack of effort. For a fair amount of time we didn't have the effort there."


-Princeton finished 17-50 from the floor (34.0%), 5-27 from three (18.5%) and 6-8 at the line (75.0%). The Tigers were 1-13 outside the arc in the second half, the only make Mavraides' game-tying shot.

-Wagner shot 16-37 (43.2%), 3-8 from deep (37.5%) and 7-10 at the stripe (70.0%). The Seahawks outrebounded the Tigers 31-24.

-The Tigers have held each of their last four opponents to 50 points or less.

-Wagner's 27 turnovers were the most by a Seahawks team since they committed the same number of giveaways on February 9, 2006 versus St. Francis (NY). Princeton turned Wagner's multiple miscues into 28 points.

-Marcus Schroeder had a career best seven steals, the most by a Princeton player since Sydney Johnson swiped seven from Brown in 1995.

-The Seahawks played a morphing defense that looked like a 1-3-1 at times, but occasionally dropped into a double team in the post. It was difficult to find open spaces and interior passing lanes against Wagner.

-At one point late in the second half Princeton had three freshmen on the floor together - Sherburne, Hummer and Will Barrett were joined by Schroeder and Finley.

-60% of Princeton's 2008 senior class were in the stands on Wednesday night. Kyle Koncz, Noah Savage and Kevin Steuerer watched the game together.

John Poole said,

December 31, 2009 @ 7:22 am

I got to the game late (6:40 left in 1st half) with three friends and was disappointed to see that we trailed 17-15. When we tied it up at halftime, I expected the team to come charging out of the locker room having shed the cobwebs of their 14 day layoff and blow Wagner away in the 2nd half -- which we would have done had we hit a mere 30% of our wide-open 3 pointers taken by players other than Dan Mavraides. Instead, it looked as if Wagner would slowly pull away from us for our failure to hit the net. The real turnaround I felt was when the Wagner coach got whistled for a T and we started to press (and keep the ball from ever getting downtown to Wagner's very impressive center). Still, we had dug a deep hole and after the long effort to get out of it, we still nearly lost at the end. I left thinking that I couldn't believe that we had actually won this game. Congratulations to all the team for never giving up on a night when the 3 ball would not fall.

Rodney Johnson said,

December 31, 2009 @ 9:38 am

Jon: Can you refresh my memory as to Sherbourne's medical issue?

Also........three guys played in the post, as best I can tell from your description: Buczak, Finley, and Connelly. When I saw the Army game, Hummer spent some time as the "big man". Could you comment on how the big men looked in general, and any additional observations about post play? I think it has been a big issue this year.

Jon Solomon said,

December 31, 2009 @ 9:56 am


Sherburne had a shoulder injury that occurred over the summer. While he was able to practice with the team (he was in uniform, though significantly taped up at early November's "Dillon Madness" event), he was not medically cleared for game action until recently.

Buczak, Finley, Connolly, Hummer and Saunders all saw time in the center of the Tiger offense on Wednesday

The Tigers continue to have trouble getting points out of the post. Buczak looked hesitant to try and score even as the coaches yelled for him to make his move one-on-one. A couple times against Wagner they were able to go inside/outside for baskets or pass from the center of the paint to a teammate inside. That was encouraging recognition.


Rodney Johnson said,

December 31, 2009 @ 10:44 am

Our centers (Hummer excluded because I can't tell what position he was playing at any given time) had zero assists and seven personal fouls. Wagner had only eight personal fouls for the game!

To me this seems to represent very passive play, especially around the basket. (Granted there seem to have been issues with the refs). And although our turnovers were less than 20, we had only eight assists. (Of course you can't get an assist if your teammate misses the shot!)

At what point do we conclude that it's not a case of "shots not dropping"?

Jon Solomon said,

December 31, 2009 @ 11:10 am


A fair point about the assist:turnover ratio.

I do think the official scorer mistakenly credited Sherburne with an assist late in the first half that should have gone to Finley on the play that resulted in Schroeder all alone under the basket.

David Lewis said,

January 1, 2010 @ 9:55 pm

Without points in the paint we are going to have games like this where we struggle to beat any DI team. We need more easy baskets. We need an inside scoring presence so that when we stop hitting outside shots we have scoring alternatives. It seems like every game Princeton goes on six minute scoring droughts because we stop hitting open outside shots and do not even attempt to score from the paint. At what point does the coach decide that Finley and Buczak are not the answer at center and use Hummer or Maddox at that position? The other night I watched Illinois beat Northwestern. Northwestern shot lights out in the first half but was three for 24 from 3 point range in the second half an blew a 9 point halftime lead in overtime. Illinois' center had 31 points, mostly put backs and short turnaround jumpers. Even though the rest of Illinois' team couldn't make an outside shot, Illinois won because they had a center making easy baskets. Hummer can be that guy.

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