If this was in fact the end - and it felt more finite afterwards than expected - then at least Princeton' senior class went out on the high note of their seventh win over Penn in eight tries.
In perhaps his final collegiate contest, Ian Hummer scored 10 of his 18 points down the last 9:20 as the Tigers were able to eventually break open a bittersweet regular season finale at The Palestra. A game that saw neither team in front by more than five across the opening 35 minutes fell apart for the Quakers at the close.
T.J. Bray curled behind a Hummer screen for a wing three to make it 56-51 Princeton with 5:04 left and following Tony Hicks' miss of a left baseline jumper guarded well by Chris Clement, Hummer took a Bray feed and glided to his left for a basket as Patrick Lucas-Perry fouled him, the Tiger senior punching the padding surrounding the basket support as he let loose with a scream.
While Lucas-Perry responded with a right side three over Clement, Bray found Hummer again cutting inside. Subsequent to a Miles Cartwright turnover Clement fought off Lucas-Perry on a drive for a nine point margin.
Once Penn fell down by three possessions they made repeated bad decisions with the ball and took ill-advised jumpers.
In addition to Hummer's 18, Bray added 13 plus three assists without a turnover while Will Barrett and Mack Darrow each contributed 11. Darrow (who hit double figures for just the second time this year) and fellow senior Brendan Connolly made the start for Princeton in what could have been the final contest of their respective careers.
It was the first time Darrow, Connolly and Hummer began a game on the floor together.
“We’re happy to send those guys out the right way,” head coach Mitch Henderson said of the senior-fueled victory.
Hicks led Penn with 22 but petered out after a stellar 17 point first half. Shooting 7-9 in the opening 20 minutes, Hicks was 2-10 in the back frame and did not score the final 14:56.
Postgame audio from Coach Mitch Henderson, Ian Hummer & T.J. Bray plus the rest of this recap can be found after the jump.
Postgame audio - Coach Mitch Henderson, Ian Hummer & T.J. Bray:
The disappointment of going from up half a game in the Ivy League with three games to play to eliminated from contention less than 48 hour later lingered over the lead-up to the nation’s penultimate non-conference tilt of 2012-13.
How would Princeton perform with nothing but pride on the line? Would the rivalry be enough to spark the Tigers to their 17th win of the campaign? Did double digit Ivy victories in four consecutive seasons matter?
“Our team could have quit,” Hummer acknowledged. “We were pretty demoralized on the bus ride back [from Providence], but any time you play Penn you can get up for it.”
The night’s opening five minutes saw just five combined points between the two teams. Both sides got adequate looks but each side missed their first four attempts.
Connolly was at least assertive in the post, going up with a hook on Princeton’s first possession he left short. Connolly also grabbed his own rebound, leading to a left baseline Hummer jumper that was also undersized.
Help defense from Darrow stripped Quaker big Darien Nelson-Henry but some poor Tiger spacing (Hummer drove right, where Denton Koon was already positioned) led to an awkward Hummer shot.
Both sides traded missed threes before the 265 lb Nelson-Henry sealed Connolly inside and was fouled from behind going up. Nelson-Henry split a pair at the line.
The struggle continued. Hummer across the lane to his left carried the ball. Nelson-Henry inside was blocked by Darrow.
Nearly three minutes in, a field goal! Connolly’s lefty swoop over Cameron Gunter got Princeton on the board.
Penn leading scorer Miles Cartwright, who tallied eight total points this season versus the Tigers, was off from the top of the arc. Connolly from the lane found Hummer for a short left baseline jumper that did not get over the rim. Then Hummer closing out on Cartwright caused the junior to leave his feet in the near corner and travel as he came back down to the court.
Henderson stuck with Darrow and Connolly through the first media time out. What was transpiring wasn’t a thing of beauty but both were certainly more involved in the action than they had been the lost weekend prior.
A Connolly jump hook in the lane was long over Nelson-Henry. Connolly adeptly read a Cartwright crossing pass and grabbed the ball out of the air on the arc. As Princeton went the other way a Darrow backdoor bounce pass to Hummer seemed prime for a one-handed dunk but Nelson-Henry met Hummer’s jam in the air and sent it back with unexpectedly equal force.
“I got rim-checked harder then I’ve ever been rim-checked in my life,” Hummer admitted afterward.
Heading the other way Hicks drove for Penn’s first bucket. With both teams owning a field goal, things picked up. Bray pushed home a shot in the lane and following a Jamal Lewis miss driving to his right, Hummer used a Connolly screen to size a jumper from the right wing that looked like a three pointer but was ruled to have come with Hummer’s foot on the line.
At the 13:10 mark of the half Hans Brase, Will Barrett and Chris Clement made their first appearances.
Brase took a charge on a Cartwright drive, Cartwright’s third giveaway of six on the night. Brase then sent his first field goal attempt of the night over the rim from the right baseline.
A lane fade from Hicks made it 6-5 Tigers. After Brase split a pair at the line, fouled trying to dunk a feed from a posting Darrow, Connolly’s size forced Hicks over the baseline as he tried to drive and turn the corner.
Barrett weaved a gorgeous bounce pass to a cutting Bray for a lay-in amid traffic. Hicks curled and tossed in a Lewis pass for two in return.
A posting Connolly set up Bray for three from the top of the circle. Hicks should have had the uncontested rebound for Penn but lost the ball off his body. A second chance meant a first for Connolly. Penetration by Koon allowed Connolly to methodically size a left baseline jumper.
Penn coach Jerome Allen had to like Hicks’ spinning jumper but had to hate the fact Hicks admired his handywork instead of picking up Koon racing up the floor. A pass got to him over the defense and Koon sailed to his left and scored as Lewis fouled him. The three point play had Princeton up 14-9.
In a sequence of significance that immediately followed, Hummer stripped Camryn Crocker resulting in a Barrett outlet to Koon. Ahead of the pack, Koon got caught in the “dunk or layup?” dilemma and the result was neither. Koon laid the ball over the rim and after he got possession back, missed a second time inside to the delight of the Penn student section he was facing. At the other end Hicks made it a five point swing with a three from the top.
Hummer fed Barrett in traffic, where he was creamed by Hicks, splitting a pair.
As Connolly rotated to the wing on defense, a helpless Clement had to foul 6’7” Quaker forward Greg Louis. After Louis made both free throws he promptly picked Connolly clean bringing the ball up the floor for a breakaway dunk.
Penn back in front 16-15, Hummer across the lane found Connolly on the right baseline who timed a pass to Barrett on the secondary cut nicely, resulting in a flip off the glass.
Hummer guarded Hicks as Henry Brooks misfired a long jumper. Louis got an offensive rebound over Connolly and was fouled, making both free throws after Connolly’s second personal.
Bray posted Lewis, but could not score after backing him down inside. Brase was off with a tip follow but Bray got the ball back which led to an open Barrett three.
Cartwright drove and scored around decent Brase defense, then Bray down the right baseline fed Clement in the far corner who passed sideways to Barrett on the left wing for a second three and a 23-20 Princeton lead.
Clement guarded Lewis who tiptoed and then stepped over the baseline. Bray could not build on the Tiger edge, unable to finish a spin off his man down low.
Brooks popped to the left baseline and hit a jumper over Darrow’s reach.
The Tigers’ size and positioning kept a possession alive that resulted in points. Bray could not hit from the right arc. Darrow rebounded. Hummer could not size from the left arc. Koon grabbed the ball and scored under Nelson-Henry.
Down three, Hicks really got off. He skipped by Barrett for two down the left baseline and after Hummer was stripped by Lucas-Perry’s help defense, Hicks added a free throw as Bray needed to foul on a breakout.
If I’ll remember anything fondly from Tuesday night, it is that the game was the long-awaited return of “The Mack-sheen.” Darrow was an active distributor (three assists versus no turnovers) and more than just a one-dimensional marksman. However, when he sized from outside the results were truly favorable! Barrett drove right and there was Darrow from the right side as well for three, making it 28-25.
A pass by Brooks went RIGHT TO Clement, but Koon could not hook from the right block and committed a silly over the back foul on the rebound.
The Tigers showed zone on defense for the first time, allowing Brooks to drive around Darrow for two. Barrett responded with a long deuce off the dribble, set up by the initial motion with the ball of Darrow.
Clement fouled Hicks trying to tie him up as he leapt inside and Hicks was able to score while drawing such contact. Hicks evened the ledger at 30 from the line.
A second case of poor spacing resulted in a Barrett turnover that was more the fault of Koon and Darrow possessing the same area.
Hicks rifled a pass to the near corner where Cartwright missed an open three. Brooks kept the ball alive and eventually Cartwright scored on a spin past Koon.
A late running hook from Darrow evened the board at 32 and with the shot clock off Hicks – who was 7/8 from the floor to this point – settled for a long deuce that popped in and out.
It started ugly but got pretty entertaining. Princeton received contributions from two discarded seniors and got a 4-4 half from Barrett leading to 11 points. It was enough to equal Hicks’ gaudy line.
“We had all five different guys guarding him and he scored on everybody,” Henderson said of Hicks with a mixture of frustration and admiration.
The Tigers shot 13-32 from the floor (40.6%), 3-7 from three (42.9%) and 3-5 on free throws (60.0%). Seven offensive rebounds meant eight more field goal attempts than the Quakers.
Penn made 12-24 tries (50.0%), 1-5 outside (20.0%) and 7-9 via the line (77.8%). Beyond Hicks the rest of the Quakers were 5-15. Nine turnovers only led to two Princeton points.
Darrow led Bray down the far baseline for a backdoor layup to open the second half, followed by Nelson-Henry slipping inside for two.
The Tigers have found the right times to post Bray for the most part this season and in a designed play Bray inbounded to Connolly, immediately called for the ball in front of Cartwright as he stepped onto the floor and scored after a series of pivots.
Bray’s help defense got a ball off of Nelson-Henry down low, but Hummer’s free throw pull-up was off. Hummer to this point was a growingly frustrated 1-8 from the floor.
Cartwright drove right and got Connolly to commit his third personal helping defensively. A pair of free throws meant a 36-36 score.
Koon to his left set Hummer up for a soft right baseline jumper. The unexpectedly bad hands of Nelson-Henry meant the ball popped high to Connolly inside. Bray pushed and scooped a shot down the lane that came off the iron. Connolly was there to rebound as Nelson-Henry fouled him but Connolly missed both of his attempts at the line.
Barrett hit the floor, replacing Connolly. This meant Darrow would play some center. With Barrett on Hicks, he could not stop (and neither could you) a curling 19’ smooth jumper in one fluid motion.
Barrett missed for the first time off the right side, but Koon was there to grab the rebound with both hands. A short tear push from Hummer had Princeton back up a pair.
Lewis rebounded his own wild runner with 15:54 left and we were tied an eighth time.
Hummer drove and felt that he earned enough contact to get a whistle. He didn’t. Bray stole the ball from Hicks and this time Hummer was fouled by Lucas-Perry. Hummer made both attempts.
The Princeton lead lasted 14 seconds. Hicks connected from the left corner over Koon, which made it 43-42 Quakers. Hummer was stripped on a drive and Lewis scored the other way.
Clement’s crossover jumper might not have been the best shot for the moment, but it did not hurt the Tigers as when Hicks curling up top left Louis free for a cut to the basket, Lewis missed him with a pass that zung out of bounds.
Hummer got a breather with 13:27 left and stayed out almost two minutes. During this time neither team could score until a posting Koon made his move, which did not fall to the sophomore’s disbelief. However, a foul was called on Lewis. Koon split a pair and following the second attempt Hummer got back in the action.
Clement picked up Hicks and Cartwright’s long two was off as Hummer skied for the rebound. Bray faked a three and ambled into the lane for a short bank.
Clement did the best job of any Tiger checking the freshman Hicks. The first half drives were non-existent after intermission. Both his baskets were lengthy jumpers.
“It was just a matter of will,” explained Bray. “We knew we had to stop him. We couldn’t let him go for 30. Everyone just kind of buckled down and said ‘when it’s my turn I’ve got to step up and get a stop.’”
Tied for a ninth time, Brooks converted an 18’ jumper over Barrett. A Connolly pass out of the post looked like a foul (a foul is when a defender brings both hands down on your wrists, right?) but no call followed and Nelson-Henry picked up the ball as Henderson protested.
However, Hicks missed and Nelson-Henry lost the rebound off his person. Hummer inside got another foul and made a pair. Brooks inbounding stepped over the baseline for an unforced turnover. Bray got Darrow popping to the arc for three which was open yet off.
The Tigers went back to a zone. Cartwright tried to split Bray and Darrow diagonally but left his scoop short. Bray posted Cartwright, got space and missed. At the other end, Brooks was fouled by Barrett from behind, splitting a pair.
After said split, Bray spinning in the lane delivered a pass to Darrow up top for his second three. Princeton led 50-48 with 8:00 showing.
A near-strip sent a loose ball to the floor where Barrett was flagged with his third personal trying to force a tie up. Lewis was nearly stripped as the possession continued, used a jump step and got personal number four on Barrett as he stopped Louis from scoring off the Lewis feed.
Clement picked the right moment to hesitate past Louis for a layup. Bray got his hands on a Cartwright pass that came to Darrow.
A lot of Princeton’s late success occurred as the result of a two man game between Hummer and Bray. The latter screened for the former and as Bray went past Hummer, he passed back to Hummer fouled going up. Hummer missed his first and made his second.
Coming out of a Penn time out, Princeton went zone with 5:52 on the game clock and :20 on the shot clock. The defense seemed stout until Cartwright found Nelson-Henry inside for a layup as time was nearing expiration.
Hummer had seen enough. He set a wide screen for Bray to shoot behind, putting Princeton up five. Clement contested Hicks off the left baseline, then Hummer scored gliding to his left as Lucas-Perry fouled him.
Hummer punched the padding around the basket support and roared, letting out all of his disappointment about last weekend while simultaneously informing Penn “I’m sick of this nonsense. Not tonight.”
A free throw gave the Tigers a game-high seven point lead, 61-54.
Lucas-Perry did respond with a three over Clement, before Bray found Hummer curling off a screen to score prior to Lucas-Perry’s arrival.
Guarded by Koon, Cartwright lost the ball in the center of the lane and after it returned from the rafters, Bray grabbed it. Clement fought off Lucas-Perry on a drive, keeping the ball away before rolling in a layup.
Now Penn was surely forcing things. The 21 losses were making more sense seeing how the Quakers responded to adversity. Hicks clutching in the lane was short and out of bounds to Princeton.
With 2:34 left the Tigers ran a full court inbounds that saw Bray hit Darrow moving diagonally as Koon broke ahead. Darrow met him with the pass and a layup made it 65-54.
While a Brooks layup and a pair of Lewis free throws pulled Penn within seven entering the final minute, Bray’s inbounds to Darrow stepping outside for his third three returned the lead to double figures and began a season-closing 6-0 Princeton run.
In between the Quakers were missing three times from outside the arc and Cartwright was giving the ball back to Clement on a botched handoff.
With :31.9 left Henderson took out Hummer, giving him a rub on the head as he came to the bench for hugs and high fives from coaches and teammates alike as many Princeton fans simultaneously gave him a standing ovation.
It wasn’t the ending Hummer wanted to his senior season, but it was still Princeton over Penn for the seventh time in his illustrious career. That mattered.
“It was important for our program to send our seniors out on the right note after a disappointing weekend,” Henderson said.
If it was the last time Hummer dons the orange and black, he and his classmates could leave The Palestra with their heads held high.
-Shooting 56.5% in the second half, Princeton was 26-55 for the game (47.3%), 6-14 from three (42.9%) and 13-19 on free throws (68.4%).
-Penn went 21-47 overall (44.7%), 3-14 outside (21.4%) and 13-17 at the line (76.5%). Hicks was the only Quaker in double figures.
-The Tigers turned the ball over on 12.7% of their possessions. Penn turned the ball over on 27.0% of their possessions.
-T.J. Bray’s 13 point, six rebound, three assist, three steal, no turnover stat line is a real nice one.
-Much of it was due to offense/defense substitutions replacing Brendan Connolly with Mack Darrow but the latter was a refreshing +24 in his 31:14 of action.
-Ian Hummer in the first half: 1-7, two points.
-Ian Hummer in the second half: 4-6 FG + 8-9 FT, 16 points.
-Tony Hicks in the first half: 7-9 FG, 17 points.
-Tony Hicks in the second half: 2-10, five points.
-Did you know Princeton made 45.7% of their three pointers in Ivy play?