Postgame audio - Coach Sydney Johnson, Douglas Davis & Ian Hummer:
14 days ago at James Madison, Princeton impressively assembled a 20 point first half lead, only to see the Dukes make a run right before intermission, lock down the Tigers in the second half and pull out a one point victory.
Against Saint Joseph's on Sunday afternoon the Tigers built a 44-19 opening half advantage, but with the awareness of what had transpired in Harrisonburg still in their minds, held off several charges by the Hawks for a nine point victory.
"I think they were calling on that memory," acknowledged Princeton head Sydney Johnson about his team. "There was a little bit of a sense of urgency there that we didn't have down in Virginia."
Leading by 18 at the break, the Tigers saw the Hawks cut their deficit to 10 on two occasions midway through the second half, but unlike at JMU, Princeton was able to take care of the ball against the St. Joe's pressure and made enough plays on offense for their third straight win.
Once the lead was down to 52-42, the Tigers had just two turnovers - both late offensive fouls - in the final 11 minutes against the Hawks' 1-2-2 press.
A free throw by St. Joe's Ronald Roberts with :00.4 remaining drew the visitors from Philadelphia within double digits for the first time since it was 19-12 seven minutes in.
Ian Hummer led five Tigers in double figures, joined by Patrick Saunders with 14 (including three shots behind the arc in the game's first five minutes), Douglas Davis' 12 and 10 each for Dan Mavraides and Kareem Maddox.
Carl Jones scored 15 of his 24 in the second half for the Hawks.
The Tigers took an immediate 8-0 lead that pushed St. Joe's back on their heels. A posting Hummer spun in the lane to find Saunders setting up outside for one of his patented flat-footed three point shots. Saunders doubled the Princeton lead from the left wing with a high-arcing low-leaping jumper, spotted again by Hummer.
"If I'm posting up and I see I can go one-on-one, I'm going to try and take advantage best I can," said Hummer. "They doubled a couple times and I hit Patty for a few threes and I knew that if we kept hitting shots and I kept working on my offense we were cooking."
The recipe included plenty of Hummer, whether passing the ball or scoring inside. Brendan Connolly rebounded a Daryus Quarles shot and threw an immediate outlet to Hummer leading a two-on-none break for a layup off glass. Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli burned an early time out.
Following a Quarles putback of Idris Hilliard's wild shot, Hummer blew by his man inside for a reverse layup. Saunders considered a third shot from outside, thought better of it a moment and then found enough space stepping to his left for his third straight triple and the Tigers led 13-5.
As Princeton's defense clamped down on SJU, the Hawks got five of their first 10 points on downright strange bounces. Carl Jones banked in a three point shot from the far corner, his way off-target attempt skimming the glass from an impossible angle and going down. A lob by Hilliard was tipped up in the air by Hummer trying to block the entry pass and this deflection went in the basket by mistake. Despite these doses of bad luck, the Tigers had a seven point lead when Mavraides drove the left baseline and fired out a pass to Saunders standing inside the arc for a slow motion jumper on the right side.
Still up seven at the 12:39 mark, Princeton reacted to the Hawks' switch into a zone defense with more inside/outside action. Kareem Maddox, in off the bench, moved through the lane and located Mack Darrow spotting up outside for a three.
Dan Mavraides, who has thrown some magnificent outlet passes as he's dribbled quickly down the floor with his head up this season, launched a two-handed push from half court that Hummer grabbed in motion and reversed in mid-air sailing to the left off the glass for a 24-12 score.
Davis popped underneath a T.J. Bray screen and collected a Darrow pass for three. An extra pass by Darrow to Davis on the left wing took the Tiger edge up to 18 and Saint Joseph's called a second time out.
Ronald Roberts' reverse layup as Saunders fouled him made it a 32-17 game with 8:55 left, before Princeton went on a 12-2 run for their biggest lead of the day.
An entry pass to Connolly headed back outside for a quick Davis trey on the right wing. Davis nearly one-upped Mavraides with a second half-court alley-oop to Hummer for a 20 point lead.
Freshman guard Chris Clement, who missed much of the preseason with an ankle injury, saw meaningful first half minutes spelling Mavraides and Johnson felt comfortable playing Clement and Davis in the same backcourt.
Davis moved to the off guard, but showed a nice touch in a pick-and-roll with Maddox, who set a screen for Davis and then curled to the basket as Davis found him across his body for an acrobatic scoop.
Clement split to Saint Joseph's defenders and drew contact, scoring off glass for his first bucket as a Tiger, and following his free throw, a 44-19 edge. When Davis later came out of the game Clement filled Davis' spot in the offense.
It was the last Princeton field goal for the half. The Hawks finished on an 8-1 run in the last two minutes, reminiscent of James Madison's 9-2 spurt to cut a 20 point deficit to a manageable number.
A near-steal pinballed to Carl Baptiste, who found Roberts for a dunk. A three point shot by Will Barrett on the left side came up short and after Mavraides picked up his second personal with a touch foul versus Jones, both ends of a one-and-one were converted.
Darrow did not sense Patrick Swilling coming from behind for a crafty steal and on a loose ball the Hawks called their fourth time out of the half before a tie up on the floor. As play stopped Martelli was slapped with a technical for saying something to the officials out of the Saint Joseph's huddle. Douglas Davis made one of two free throws.
Jones bounced in a floater for a 45-25 score and Patrick Swilling was able to go coast-to-coast with little defense for a layup at the horn. The Tiger forwards did not step up to check Swilling and force him to pass the ball.
The 18 point advantage was both a delightful performance and a sinking feeling. Saint Joseph's was a far better team than down 25 and the ease in which they finished out the first half gave hope to the once hopeless.
To quote Davis, a Philadelphian who would know: "A team from Philadelphia, they have that scrappiness in them."
The TIgers were 18-31 from the floor in the first half (58.1%), but missed their final four shots. Princeton hit 7-15 from outside (46.7%) and were 2-4 at the line (50.0%). Saunders had 11, Davis 10 and Hummer 10 before the break.
Saint Joseph's shot 11-27 (40.7%), 1-6 from three (16.7%) and 4-7 from the line (57.1%). Jones paced the Hawks with nine.
Princeton had the ball to start the half and a posting Saunders saw his lefty scoop blocked back at the rim by C.J. Aiken.
Following an offensive rebound by Langston Galloway, Jones spotted up for a three on the left wing.
"We didn't get stops - long rebounds that they seemed to come up with. It was just not the way that we want to start a second half," said Johnson. "We've got to cure that."
Mavraides picked up his third personal 86 seconds into the half and the Tigers opted to put Maddox in the backcourt with Davis against the Hawks' extended, desperate defense.
The two teams went scoreless in the next four minutes as Princeton committed five turnovers against Hawk pressure, but Saint Joseph's couldn't place the ball in the basket until Hilliard put one home from the free throw line at the 15:10 mark. The Tigers missed a golden chance when Maddox snagged a Hilliard outlet pass with his long arms in the back court but blew up a two-on-one when his bounce pass to Davis on the other side of the floor went behind the junior guard and out of bounds.
Scoreless for the previous 6:30+, Maddox got Princeton back on the board when he went left at Aiken and was fouled, converting both free throws.
Roberts dunked among three Tigers for a 47-34 score before Hummer fed Saunders in front of the Princeton bench for a much-needed high arc three that ended a 9:43 stretch between field goals.
Aiken answered with a jumper from the right baseline and Roberts' dunk follow of a Quarles miss changed the scoreboard to 50-38.
Bray eventually returned off the bench to give Princeton an extra ball handler versus the press. He coughed the ball up under some physical Saint Joe's defense in the frontcourt, leading to a Jones break, but pulled those two points back with a lefty drive that drew contact from Galloway and converted both free throws.
The lead down to 10 with Mavraides back on the floor, Princeton took great care of the ball in the back half of the second half.
Davis was off the mark with 9:18 left and Maddox controlled under the Tiger basket, passing to Darrow up top. Darrow paused for a second, looked both ways like he was crossing the street, realized he was open to shoot and canned a three point cushion.
Baptiste answered with a drive that lipped in for a 55-44 score before Mavraides, inbounding under his own hoop, passed to Darrow on the wing and curled behind the developing screen for Mavraides' only three point shot of the game.
Hummer blew by Baptiste for a reverse layup, and Mavraides added two free throws after being bumped by Quarles on the perimeter for a 14 point edge.
Jones' three from the left wing made it 64-52 with 5:52 showing.
Davis saved a loose ball on the far sideline and threw the ball behind his back into the field of play. Mavraides was fouled hard by Jones as he raced ahead and split his pair at the line. Behind the action Jones and Davis were called for offsetting technical fouls as Jones got in the middle of an attempted high five between Davis and Hummer.
Less than a minute later Hummer soared for a rebound in traffic and tossed a breakout pass to Madddox who was fouled intentionally by Galloway wrapping him up. Maddox converted both attempts and then Princeton took the lead back to 17 after two near steals bounced to Darrow who picked the ball up and fed Davis approaching the free throw line for a jumper.
A push off on a drive by Davis with 2:26 to go and Mavraides driving directly into three Hawks players clogging the lane in the final minute kept Princeton from a clean final quarter against the Saint Joseph's press.
Despite several stretches of the second half where it looked like they might do otherwise, the Tigers never trailed throughout and were able to keep the Hawks at a distance.
The memory of James Madison remained just that, a memory.
-Princeton finished 25-50 from the floor (50.0%), 7-19 in the second half (36.8%). The Tigers hit 10-22 behind the arc (45.5%) and were 14-18 from the line (77.8%), 12-14 after the break (85.7%).
-After starting the season 66-101 from the free throw line (65.3%) in their first five games, Princeton is 52-66 at the line (78.7%) over the last three games and above 70% for the year as a team.
-Saint Joseph's went 26-56 for the game (46.4%), 5-15 from deep (33.3%) and 8-12 on free throws (66.7%). The Hawks won the rebounding battle 32-27.
-Hummer is shooting 63.1% from the floor this season.
-Brendan Connolly was a team-best +13 against St. Joe's despite not scoring.