Yale can't get back up to New Haven tonight due to the blizzard but after recording their first road sweep at Penn and Princeton since the 1986-87 season it seems unlikely the Bulldogs are complaining.
A 21 game conference winning streak at Jadwin Gym came to an end on Saturday night as the Tigers fought endlessly uphill against incredible Yale shooting (65% for the first half), a pressing and trapping zone defense (which led to 16 miscues by the orange and black), foul trouble (two personals each for T.J. Bray, Will Barrett and Hans Brase before intermission) in addition to several dubious officiating calls (I'm sure there will be plenty to said about these in the comments) and timely Bulldog baskets once Princeton crept close.
While the Tigers were able to overcome an eight point deficit at the break, each time Princeton pulled even or inched slightly ahead, back came Yale with an enormous response on the very next possession.
“Yale got us on our heels and we never had a counter-punch,” said a disappointed Tiger head coach Mitch Henderson.
Still the game went down to the final seconds. Nick Victor missed a pair of free throws after Barrett connected on his third trey of the contest and Princeton had the ball down two. Unable to get driving angles to the basket or a clean perimeter look, Bray entered the arc and saw his difficult feed to Brase bound directly to Yale's Matt Townsend.
Austin Morgan - a 90%+ free throw shooter this season - iced the result with a pair from the line with just over three seconds remaining.
It was the Bulldogs' first win at Princeton since 2008 and the Tigers' first home loss since falling 57-54 to Brown in February of 2010.
Denton Koon led three Princeton players in double figures with 16. A frustrated Ian Hummer played all 40 minutes and totaled 14 but had seven turnovers. Barrett added 11.
Yale was paced by Javier Duren's 13, 11 from Sam Martin including a trio of threes and 11 by Morgan, who also connected thrice behind the arc.
The rest of this recap plus postgame audio from Coach Mitch Henderson & Ian Hummer can be found after the jump.
Postgame audio - Coach Mitch Henderson, & Ian Hummer:
Yale coach James Jones called the win his team’s “best ballgame of the year” and the Bulldogs drew up a defensive scheme that made the Tigers’ lineup uncomfortable. By picking up Princeton full-court and then trapping aggressively out of a zone Jones’ team was shortening each possession in the frontcourt and generating indecision.
It also didn’t hurt that almost everything Yale shot – contested and otherwise – seemed to drop in the first 19 minutes.
“They were on fire,” acknowledged Henderson. “We thought that it would change, but they just seemed to come up with big shots when they needed them.”
Princeton won the opening tip with Barrett pushing the ball forward to Brase who in turn found Denton Koon streaking in on a drive that was blocked by Yale’s Matt Townsend. Still, the opening possession ended with Barrett connecting inside the arc on a jumper from the right baseline after being set up by a Hummer drive.
Townsend slipped inside on a missed switch and evened the score.
Barrett to a posting Brase was tipped free but Duren’s jumper did not go. Bray rebounded and had his choice of Koon or Brase ahead of the Yale defense. Bray opted for Koon and the sophomore drove for two.
Following Armani Cotton’s split from the line, Koon attacked left from the right arc and scored at the rim for a 6-3 count.
The next eight points belonged to Yale. First Hummer threw a pass over Koon’s reach to Trenton Times scribe Paul Franklin sitting on press row. Barrett picked up his second personal as Durien drove and scored following a bad Hummer pass.
Bray got in the lane but left a push short. Freshman Justin Sears, in off the bench for the first time, recognized a size advantage versus Bray and was able to score down low as Brase fouled him.
An inbounds catch and shoot Hummer left elbow jumper was off to the left and Jeremiah Kreisberg drove to his right all the way around Brendan Connolly off the glass to make the Bulldog lead five.
Princeton began to score with frequency but defensive stops, especially once within a single possession, failed to occur.
Hummer was zippy on the move to Connolly going up from the left block for two. Bray tried to contain Sears and Henderson moaned audibly from the bench as Bray was whistled from behind a posting Sears. A second personal from the Tiger point guard instead of the foul being charged to the Bulldog.
Bray left the court with 11:38 remaining in the half, replaced by Chris Clement.
Kreisberg connected from the left wing, making it 14-8.
Connolly got two back with a pair of free throw conversions, going back up after a Mack Darrow shot from the opposite block skimmed the rim.
Princeton countered with some pressure of their own and offered Clay Wilson as a possible zone buster off the bench.
Kreisberg at the free throw line dribbled into the lane and was true on a short jumper.
Some in/out action from Connolly to Wilson resulted in a three at the top of the arc. Wilson played four first half minutes but did not appear in the second frame until the final three seconds.
Leading by three, Austin Morgan responded with a three on the left side, curling to a spot as Kreisberg drove.
A poor Princeton possession could only muster an 18’ push shot from Darrow as the shot clock was due to expire. Koon was unable to come up with a steal up top so Sears went to his left past the slower Darrow for a two hand slam.
Trailing 21-13, Henderson re-inserted Bray and risked a third personal.
Out of a media time out, the combination of Bray to Brase to Hummer got the Tiger senior his first field goal which Duren countered from free throw distance.
Darrow hit from the right side for a 23-18 count and while Nick Victor had it far too easy with a floater down the left baseline, Koon began to heat up with a three of his own out of the left corner as Hummer found him on the run.
A lousy Victor pass was picked off by Koon and Darrow got a second clean look from behind the arc. The shot did not drop and Brase’s charging two hand dunk follow deflected high off the rim and out of bounds.
Sam Martin’s clutching jump shot may look odd but it was good enough for the first of his three shots from behind the arc by the 40%+ marksman.
Bray off the left side saw a soft three flutter in/out/in, resulting in a 28-24 score.
Martin a second time at the top of the circle pushed Yale back in front by seven.
Morgan with the shot clock at one got a shot off from three point range over Darrow that appeared on target but came off the rim. An alley oop by Bray to Hummer coming down the far baseline was well behind the leaping Hummer, yet somehow in mid-air Hummer was able to contort his body and get one hand on the ball from well behind his head. Hummer’s near-impossible improvised bank shot almost went in, but Koon got the offensive rebound and his two free throws did not also make me involuntarily yell “OH MY GOD!” but were equal in value.
Kreisberg may have gotten away with a travel into the lane before he fed Morgan for a three from the far wing that caught the front rim, hopped in the air and when it fell through increased the Yale lead to 34-26.
Darrow was off target from three and after Brase bullied his way to an offensive rebound, a layup and possible three point play was waived off in favor of a charge.
Kreisberg was also off outside, as was Cotton after the Tiger defense was caught gazing and Morgan slid in for an offensive board.
Yale led 34-26 at intermission. The Bulldogs made 13-20 shots (65.0%) and that included their final two errant outside efforts, hitting 5-9 threes (55.6%) and 3-4 free throws (75.0%). Kreisberg has seven off the bench.
Jones’ squad scored 1.48 points per possession in the opening 20 minutes with an effective shooting percentage (EFG%) of 77.5%.
Princeton’s numbers weren’t awful but they couldn’t compare to Yale’s spot-on marksmanship. The Tigers went 9-21 in the opening frame (42.9%), were 4-8 from deep (50.0%) and 4-4 at the line. Koon totaled nine as Hummer was 1-4 from the field.
Hummer came out strong to start the second half. Koon deferred to his elder, bypassing a midrange jumper for Hummer inside. Next Hummer blocked a Townsend drive to Barrett.
Bray from the right side looked good for three but was off the mark. After an ugly hook try by Townsend, Greg Kelly grabbed one of Yale’s 11 offensive boards and Cotton drove right down the lane for two.
This time Bray was pure from the right side and Princeton closed to 36-31. Kelly got Yale’s third try inside on a single possession to drop however.
Bray snaking into the lane found Hummer at the free throw line. Bray passing was excellent as the Tigers rallied, which made his final decision of the night so painful.
Hummer picked off an Austin Morgan wing pass on the far sideline, was able to stay in bounds while accelerating and led a two-on-one with Bray that Hummer finished off.
Down one possession again, Hummer looked to have a clean block of Townsend but was called for getting Townsend on the body, something that would have been near-impossible to occur prior to the rejection. Townsend made both free throws.
It didn’t endear the officiating crew to those at Jadwin Gym when Barrett seemed to get clobbered in mid-air on a drive by Kelly but a whistle did not sound until Barrett was on the floor and the call went against the Princeton forward.
A pair of superb Bray passes drew Princeton even. After behind shoulder-checked by Kreisberg as he tried to come around an illegal screen, Bray found Koon under the rim for a reverse which made it 40-37.
Sears could not muscle the ball up and over Koon inside and Bray on a dime to Brase point blank rolled in on a lefty flip as a foul was called on Kreisberg.
Yale called time with 13:27 left and all momentum appearing to be on Princeton’s side, even more so when Brase tied the game with his free throw. Thus, the contest entered a 9:38 stretch of action where neither team held more than a one possession advantage.
Coming out of the time out Morgan broke spirits with a three over Brase from the top as the shot clock expired. While Koon tied the game a fourth time with a three of his own off the right side on an inbounds from Bray, Victor moved Yale in front once more with a free throw after being fouled by Darrow on a wild drive to his right.
Hummer went left on Victor and gave Princeton their first lead since 6-3. Looking to build on that slim margin, the Tigers were sloppy with the ball. Sears traveled to give the ball back to Princeton, then a trapped Bray tossed a pass that was stolen. After a pair of Yale misses in close, Darrow’s entry pass to Brase on the baseline was slapped away by Kreisberg.
Victor went to his left and Hummer stepped up into his path, allowing Sears freedom inside for two after the dish.
Brase on the right block skipped a pass to Bray for a three from the left wing and Princeton was up 48-46 with 9:48 showing.
Not only did the needed stop never come but Yale was able to agonizingly extend possessions. Victor missed. Sears rebounded. Sears missed. Sears rebounded. Martin stayed perfect from deep with a three from the left side. Oy.
Hummer in the lane to Brase got the Tigers back up once more.
Going to his right Hummer was unable to get around Victor so instead tried to go through his midsection, picking up his third personal. With this call Hummer’s visible frustration began to overflow. Martin’s wild bank square off the square behind the iron didn’t help.
Koon blocked Martin inside and Hummer working from the free throw line found Barrett, the Ivy League’s top three point shooter, for a game-tying jumper off the left side.
Bray stole the ball from Kreisberg and Koon soared to the rim in transition. What should have been a two point Princeton lead inside of seven minutes was actually the beginning of the end.
The ball rolled off the rim without a sound and as Connolly and Victor fell to the floor entangled, Connolly was whistled for a hold. When play resumed Victor made both ends of a one-and-one to give Yale the lead to stay.
A left baseline jumper for Hummer was soft enough but off target. Princeton did not step up in transition allowing Duren space for a short jumper inside the free throw line. For the first time in ages the teams were divided by two possessions as Yale led 57-53.
A posting Brase found Hummer cutting, fouled hard by Townsend. Hummer made both attempts.
Victor missed a drive long but the rebound came out of Hummer’s hands and back to Victor for a gift bucket. Hummer could only walk up the floor with an “it is really going to be this sort of night?” look on his face.
Playing the entire game for the first time this season, Hummer looked a touch spent down the stretch. Any possible exhaustion did not stop Hummer from grabbing a missed Barrett three off the right side and feeding Barrett in the same spot for a true jumper that drew Princeton within 59-58.
“Being one of the leaders on the team you figure that I need to do a lot,” a let down Hummer said of his seven turnover game. “Sometimes that has a negative consequence and today was a negative consequence.”
An attacking Duren got the ball up to the rim and sometimes when you get the ball up to the rim the ball goes in the basket.
The Tigers countered with Barrett to Connolly in the lane setting up a streaking Koon down the right baseline for a one hand slam as Henderson called time out with 3:41 showing.
With Chris Clement in defensively, Duren spun at him with the shot clock down to six and got a call running into Connolly as Connolly tried to stand with his arms straight up to the ceiling. Both free throws went down without much hesitation.
Hummer was tied up inside and a quick whistle gave the ball to Yale. Duren got into the lane and Hummer felt he had a clean block from behind. The officials disagreed, despite Hummer’s shocked facial expression. Duren again converted both his chances.
Barrett could not draw his team within two but Hummer was on the spot for a putback. Sears was fouled as Bray tried to rip the ball away from behind and the much-coveted recruit from New Jersey who had been playing at Jadwin Gym since he was a sophomore in high school made a pair at the line.
Things didn’t look good but Koon across the lane found Barrett for his third triple and the score was 67-65 with :40.2 showing. On the inbounds Barrett fouled Victor immediately and the 71.4% free throw shooter left his first try short and his second came off the rim and out of bounds to Princeton – but not before Sears nearly had his fifth offensive board.
With the game clock just ahead of the shot clock, Princeton ran time down in search of their best option. Bray could not create. Hummer on the far side had no space to drive. Barrett wasn’t able to find an opening from with to launch and Koon barely touched the ball. Bray had no choice but to enter the lane to his right and instead of gently pushing up one of his one-handed runners in the direction of the rim passed to a guarded Bray who was unable to get both hands on the ball as Townsend tipped it free.
Possession came to the person you least-wanted to see at the line – Morgan. 76-83 on free throws so far this season (91.6%) the senior did what you would expect him to do and evaporated a long Ivy home winning streak in the process.
“A disappointing result at the very end with not being able to get a shot off,” Henderson recognized. “Our defense has been everything about us and we could not stop them. Really disappointing.”
“Give credit to what they did, they got into us,” he added following the Tigers first conference loss of the season, a defeat that puts them a 1.5 games behind undefeated Harvard with seven of their final nine contests on the road. “That’s something we’ve been working hard on and I thought we addressed it over the course of the season. It reared its head again.”
Henderson spoke for many in the building when he stated “As the coach of this team and as an alum too, I don’t think that was what Princeton basketball should be about. We lost a lot of loose balls, we didn’t come up with the rebounds we needed to come up with. Those things have hallmarks of this program for a long time.”
The road to the Ivy League title was never going to be an easy one, but by dropping the fifth game of their five game homestand, a path that returns back to Jadwin Gym for just one more weekend now goes directly through Cambridge.
-Princeton’s offensive numbers were certainly good enough to win most games, making 24-47 attempts (51.1%), 10-21 threes (47.6% including a desperation shot by Wilson that wouldn’t have mattered at the buzzer) and a perfect 7-7 on free throws.
-Yale shot 23-42 overall (54.8%), 7-12 from three (58.3%) and clipped 16 of 20 free throws (80.0%).
-The Bulldogs had 11 offensive rebounds and 11 defensive rebounds. All four of Sears’ boards were second chances.
-Yale scored 1.29 points/possession, Princeton 1.22.
-Hummer now trails Douglas Davis for second on the Princeton scoring list by 81 points.