Postgame audio - Coach Sydney Johnson, Ian Hummer & Dan Mavraides:
Princeton shot 75% from the field in the second half, including baskets on their first five possessions after intermission in Easton and held Lafayette at bay for an 82-64 decision. The Tigers only missed two times from inside the arc in the final 20 minutes.
Ian Hummer led the way with 22 points on 10-12 shooting. Dan Mavraides scored 15 of his 17 in the first half and Douglas Davis connected four times from the perimeter for 16.
Jared Mintz and Jim Mower each tallied 17 for the Leopards.
Lafayette head coach Fran O'Hanlon threw a variety of defensive looks at Princeton in the game's early moments. From straight zone to 1-3-1 and triangle-and-two gimmicks, the Tigers were prepared for the Leopards' many schemes by keeping their interior advantage a constant.
"I thought no matter what defense that they threw at us we could throw the ball down low," said Hummer of Princeton's offensive counter. "That was a safety point for us. If we were getting harassed on the perimeter, we just throw it down low and make our move and then find the open shooters or shoot it ourselves. They did throw a lot of defenses at us but I think we did handle ourselves very well."
Mintz hit a left baseline jumper over Tiger center Brendan Connolly to open the scoring, Lafayette's one and only lead of the game.
The Tigers went inside the first time they had the ball, with Patrick Saunders overloading the Lafayette zone from the center of the paint and finding Hummer on the left baseline for two.
Following a missed three pointer by Ben Wheeler, Mavriades pushed the ball up the floor and attacked the basket as two Lafayette defenders still had their backs turned down low. Mavraides was fouled by Darion Benbow and made both free throws.
As Princeton went inside, they made excellent decisions to know when the ball needed to rotate back to the perimeter. As soon as Lafayette switched to a 1-3-1 Davis found Mavraides on the right wing for a three that made the Leopards regret their decision.
When Mavraides raced down the right baseline and dished to Hummer in the paint the Tigers had an early 9-4 lead.
Mower answered with a three in Hummer's face but the Tigers got three points back on my favorite possession of the night. Saunders took the ball on the right side of the lane with his back to Mavraides. All Mavraides had to do was yell "Pat! and his teammate threw the ball blind to where the sound was originating behind him. Mavraides caught the ball in rhythm and made it a 12-7 game.
It sounded as if Princeton was more verbally communicative against Lafayette than in other games this season. Mavraides in particular was constantly talking to his teammates on both sides of the ball - be it in a situation like the one described above or a brief word with Hummer dribbling on the perimeter that set up an open corner jumper at the end of a Princeton possession.
"That's something we're working towards is being tight as a team and talking to each other throughout the whole game, whether the gym's packed, whether it's empty, whether we're down, whether we're up," Mavraides said. "Whatever the situation is, that's a basis we want to keep going. We just try to talk to each other as much as we can. It makes the game much easier. That's something the coaches press on us every day in practice."
Leading by two, Princeton ran off seven straight as Lafayette was forced to defend man-to-man. Davis' right baseline jumper was short but Kareem Maddox, in off the bench, cleaned up the miss, spun into traffic and scored gracefully.
After Mavraides absorbed a Nick Petkovich charge, Hummer had a leaping lefty hook to take the lead to six. Maddox's skip pass from the left side to Davis camped out on the right created an open three pointer and the Tigers were up 19-10 at the 12:18 mark.
A posting Hummer proved to be not only an efficient weapon inside but as he drew more and more attention from the Lafayette defenders, opportunities continued to develop outside. A posting Hummer found Mavraides in front of him behind the arc. Mavraides used one dribble to shake Ben Wheeler and slid to his left for another trey. Mavraides scored 11 points in the first nine minutes of action.
What won't end up in any box score are the sorts of effort plays that tri-captains Maddox and Mavraides made on the next two possessions. Maddox dove parallel to the ground to keep a loose ball in Princeton hands after Benbow lost control. Mavraides tumbled past a lone photographer on the sideline trying to finish a strong layup, flipped over, got up and ran back down the floor in time to snatch a defensive rebound in the lane.
Mower launched over Hummer but Saunders answered from in front of the Princeton bench when Maddox found him to make it 25-15.
The lead in double digits, the defensive intensity high as Tiger players were flying all over the floor, Lafayette scored seven straight to bring a ballgame back from the brink. Mintz, who had to leave with two personal fouls four minutes in, returned to score with a soft touch over Maddox. An indecisive Maddox committed a five second violation in the near corner. Mintz spun glass at Hummer to draw within six. Great Leopard passing ended a possession with a high arc Mower trifecta for a 25-22 count.
Up five at the 4:49 mark, Maddox swooped to his off hand but left the ball short of the rim. Maddox stayed with the play and scored in traffic. Mintz did one better, unable to score inside against Mack Darrow, Mintz grabbed two offensive boards before finally placing the ball home as Darrow fouled him. The free throw made it a 31-27 game.
Maddox lost the ball inside on a drive, re-controlled and passed out, where Princeton worked the ball around the horn to Davis for a three.
For those who are concerned the high scoring 2010-11 Tigers don't have anything in common with Princeton teams of years gone by, there's T.J. Bray feeding Connolly on the elbow bouncing a pass to Mavraides cutting behind his man for a layup.
Bray picked up a loose ball and found Mavraides, who recognized that Connolly was sealing off his man creating a path to the basket. Mavraides exploded and was fouled hard by Wheeler at the rim. Both free throws were good and the Tiger lead was a half high 11.
Two Mintz free throws were offset by Hummer in the post guarded by the much taller but much slower Jake Kreuser. As Mavraides yelled "No double!," Hummer knew he could spin by Kreuser baseline for two.
A layup from Kreuser just before time ran out made it 40-31 at the break.
The Tigers were 15-29 from the floor in the first half (51.7%), 6-11 from the perimeter (54.5%) and 4-4 at the line (100.0%). Lafayette shot 12-27 (44.4%), 4-13 from deep (30.8%) and 3-5 on free throws (60.0%).
Mavraides had 15 and Hummer 10 to lead Princeton, who handed out nine assists and committed just five turnovers.
To begin the second half, the Tigers had possession. Each of the first five times they held the ball, they scored.
Connolly high in the lane went to Hummer low in the lane for a hook.
Following a turnover set up by a Davis poke as Ryan Willen lost the ball and then was unable to save it from going into the Lafayette bench, it was Hummer returning the favor to Connolly for two down low.
Mower stopped the high/low party with a three up top, before Connolly fed Hummer for another nifty combo.
Hummer was happy to finally have a teammate this season he could pair with for interior passes like these. "I miss [center Zach] Finley," Hummer said with a smile. "I did that with him so much last year. I've been looking for someone to do that with. I'm glad Brendan was there. It was a good connection. We saw that it was open beforehand and we were just talking as a team. We just executed. It was pretty fun."
The fun continued with Mavraides stutter-stepping with the ball before throwing to down to Saunders for an easy two from under the hoop.
Mavraides' backdoor bounce pass to Hummer off glass capped off five straight possessions with a bucket and made it 50-36 Princeton.
The sixth try was not a successful one. Following a Davis steal, tipped by Saunders, Mavraides pulled up for a three at the top of the arc that led to a surprising outburst from Tiger coach Sydney Johnson.
Despite the 14 point lead, Johnson was furious. He repeatedly yelled "Two minutes!" at the team, upset with the sudden drop in composure. First Johnson slammed his chair, then he threw his clipboard onto the floor with a loud crack. A disgusted Johnson would not meet his team in the huddle, sending assistant Brian Earl to say some words. While the specifics of this unexpected outburst were unknown, Princeton certainly did not let up again.
"We just have to play our style and commit to what we do," explained Johnson. "Let's just be true to our strengths and the rest will come."
Hummer found Saunders on the side of the lane for two.
Mintz was able to spin away from Connolly for a long jumper off glass as he drew a foul to pull within 52-40. Mower's catch and shoot three off a feed from Rob Delaney at the top of the arc made it a single digit game for the first time since the 19:36 mark. Princeton called time out up 52-43.
The Tigers closed the game out with more interior production. Maddox caught the ball on the left baseline and went right at Levi Giese. After Giese split a pair of free throws, Hummer fired a short jumper while facing up Petkovich, one of five field goals for the sophomore forward in five second half tries. If Hummer can develop this weapon with any consistency, he is going to be an extremely difficult player for Ivy foes to guard.
When Mavraides slashed straight down the lane and drew the Lafayette defense, able to kick out to Davis on the left wing for three, the lead was a game-high 59-44.
The closest Lafayette could pull in the final nine minutes was 13. A bad Mavraides pass was turned into a Mower layup. Bray to Hummer to Davis down the lane for a lay-in while fouled by Mower got those points back in a flash.
The lead was 71-55 when Mavraides picked up a loose ball, split two Leopards closing at half court and kept going in stride for a layup try that was goaltended off the backboard.
For the first time all season Coach Johnson was able to sub liberally while ahead down the stretch. Sophomore forward Will Barrett's first three point shot of the year made it a 16 point lead and delighted his family in attendance behind the bench.
Freshman guard Chris Clement scored his first points as a Tiger, connecting on three of four free throws and stealing a pass off a Lafayette defensive board for good measure. His first free throw was Princeton's 500th point of the season.
Barrett leapt high in the air to snag an entry pass by Jack Detmer in the final seconds and dribbled out the clock on the Tigers' second straight victory.
Princeton was 15-20 from the floor (75.0%) in the second stanza, 3-6 from outside the arc (50.0%). When the Tigers went to the line they hit 9-13 tries (69.2%). By going inside repeatedly, many options opened up - both on the perimeter and elsewhere in the paint.
"We felt like we had a strength to throw it down and see what develops," said Johnson of his team's gameplan.
After not making more than half their shots in a game the first six times out, Princeton hit at a 61.2% clip versus Lafayette, a season-best 9-17 on threes (52.9%) and 13-17 at the line (76.5%).
-Princeton was 12-14 inside the arc after the break. Both times they missed, they grabbed an offensive rebound and recorded points. Connolly rebounded an errant Davis jumper at the 9:03 mark and made one of two free throws. Hummer snatched a Connolly layup try and made both his free throws with 6:41 left. That's impressive production.
-Lafayette shot 35.7% in the second half and 22-55 for the game (40.0%). The Leopards were 2-9 from deep in the second half (22.2%), 6-22 on the night (27..3%).
-The Tigers were outrebounded 30-29 with Lafayette grabbing 16 offensive boards.
-Princeton had a season high 21 assists and a season high 10 steals.
-The Tigers have scored more than 500 total points through seven games, the first Princeton squad to do so since the first seven games of the 1971-72 season.
-With the win, Princeton exceeded 80 points in back-to-back games versus DI foes for the first time since a 84-63 win versus Holy Cross and a 86-67 decision over South Carolina in the 1975 NIT.
-The orange and black have gone over 60 points in seven straight games for the first time since February 1998.