Postgame audio - Coach Sydney Johnson:
Postgame audio - Brendan Connolly & Kareem Maddox:
Electronic statistics for men's college basketball go back as far as the 1996-97 season. Before then, stats are all blurry photocopies and hand-transcribed scrawl.
This is noteworthy, because since electronic stats have become the standard, Princeton has not attempted as few three point shots as they did on Friday night at Wagner.
The Tigers only needed to shoot five times from behind the arc because they were able to take control on Staten Island by scoring 36 points in the paint and 16 more at the free throw line.
Princeton used a 19-5 first half run to break open a 16-16 ballgame and kept Wagner at bay for a 69-57 win, the Tigers’ sixth straight.
Kareem Maddox scored 23 to lead Princeton, 15 in the first half. Maddox was one of four Tigers in double figures, alongside Dan Mavraides with 12, Patrick Saunders’ 11 and a career high 10 for sophomore center Brendan Connolly. All of Connolly’s sum came in the second stanza.
For Connolly, who had scored nine total points in Princeton's prior seven games, more than doubling his offensive production came as a relief. "I found open shots and felt a little better about it today than I have in previous games," Connolly said. "I don't know what to attribute it to."
"It was nice to see him put the ball in the basket in a game because he's done that quite often in practice," added Tiger head coach Sydney Johnson.
When the Seahawks ran off eight straight to close within nine with 5:56 to go, Princeton responded with seven consecutive to regain control.
Latif Rivers, who has a team-best 23 treys for Wager coming into Friday’s game was 0-4 from the arc. Naofall Folahan’s 19 led the home team in defeat.
It was Wagner's gameplan to curl their two top outside shooters around a series of downscreens up to the perimeter. Tyler Murray was 19-41 from three point range (46.3%) entering Friday and Rivers was shooting 23-52 (44.2%).
A curling Murray took a pass from Folahan and connected at the top of the arc for an early 5-2 Seahawk advantage.
Connolly had the ball in the high post and looked for a cutter. Both Hummer and Saunders were free down the left side and Connolly chose Hummer for a reverse layup.
When Maddox entered the game at the 16:36 mark, he went to the post and immediately found Douglas Davis on the right wing for a rare Princeton three pointer.
As Princeton overplayed Murray and Rivers on the perimeter, this allowed Folahan to get free inside. Folahan was averaging 2.4 points per game entering Friday but Wagner's fourth or fifth offensive option became their primary point generator.
Two Tigers sailed up top to Murray and Murray found Folahan inside for a two-handed dunk that tied the score at seven.
Maddox was magnificent offensively and his long arms on the perimeter bothered Rivers defensively. A posting Maddox drew a foul from Orlando Parker and made both free throws.
Following a Folahan offensive board, Hummer on the right block drew a double team and waited for Maddox to slide to the left block down the lane where he was able to bank home a point blank attempt.
Mack Darrow had Mavraides wide open on the left side but could not get his pass over a leaping Chris Martin straddling the arc. Martin went ahead for a spinning layup that provided Wagner a 13-11 lead.
When play resumed out of a media stoppage, Saunders on the left elbow did not feel Josh Thompson coming up from behind his back and Thompson had a breakway pickpocket that he finished off with a one-handed slam.
The Tigers went back to Maddox repeatedly and the defensive shape and intensity level both changed for the better midway through the half.
Maddox sized a long deuce from the right side that was on the money.
Hummer in the lane dished to Maddox, who hung in the air as T.J. Czeski slapped him and Maddox finished the play as a foul was called.
Hummer made another nice pass, this from the post when doubled under the basket to Saunders down on the right baseline for a long jumper.
Seconds later Mavraides tipped the ball loose from Murray and poked it ahead where he was able to outlet for a streaking Hummer and Hummer's first dunk of the season. The run was on.
Speaking of firsts, it took almost 200 minutes of court time, but Patrick Saunders finally went to the free throw line for the first time in 2010-11 when he was bumped by Murray and converted both ends of a one-and-one.
When Mavraides drifted to his left for a midrange jumper Johnson called time on the Princeton bench with his team up 24-18 and 7:03 left in the half.
Maddox kept working, acrobatically leaping above Folahan for a dead on bank shot from the above the center of the paint.
Mavraides faked Danny Mundweiler in the air and lined up a try from the left corner to extend the lead to 29-18.
Mundweiler's lefty drive ended a 6:30 field goal drought for Wagner and Maddox immediately answered with a spin away down low to the right glass for two more.
A posting Saunders dribbled out to the left wing, used a crossover and threw in a long two over a surprised Folahan. Following a Saunders steal, the ball went ahead to Maddox who outgeared three Wagner chasers for a layup. The Seahawks called time down 15 with 2:51 left.
There was a five point swing when Mavraides committed an offensive foul leading a three-on-one with Davis and Maddox trailing at one end of the gym and Folahan scored on a mismatched T.J. Bray and drew a foul at the other.
Maddox blocked a Thompson layup try with his full palm, but was still called for raking Thompson's arm. You'll have to explain to me how that's possible sometime. Thompson split a pair at the line to draw within 36-24.
The score stayed that way when Darrow was fouled rebounding a wild Murray miss with less than a second remaining and roughly 89 feet from his team's basket but could not convert the gift one-and-one opportunity.
Princeton held a 12 point edge at intermission. In the first half the Tigers shot 14-29 (48.3%), 2-4 from three (50.0%) and 6-8 on free throws (75.0%), making their first six tries. Hummer had three assists and no turnovers in the first half. Maddox scored 15 points in 16 minutes.
Wagner was 8-22 from the floor (36.4%), 1-4 outside (25.0%) and 7-9 at the stripe (77.8%). Folahan tallied 13 but no other Seahawk recorded more than 4 as the home team committed 12 turnovers before the break.
It was part of the Princeton gameplan to take Wagner's first and second scoring options away as an attempt to have the Seahawks beat Princeton in a less likely manner than they wanted.
When play resumed Hummer went to his left across the lane and tossed a pass underneath to Connolly for his first points since Lafayette.
Mavraides' right-handed floater fell in at the same time Mavraides fell to the baseline but the Tiger tri-captain could not finish his three point play.
A Hummer pass down the right baseline to Connolly for a reverse set the tone for the rest of the half and gave Princeton their largest lead at 42-24.
For the next seven minutes, the Tigers answered every Wagner basket to keep the Seahawks in the distance.
Folahan scored inside and was fouled by Connoly. Lead down to 15.
A driving Davis found Saunders on the left arc for three. Lead back to 18.
Hummer fouled Rivers on the right baseline and Rivers made both free throws. Lead down to 16.
Maddox used a backscreen and received a Davis feed for a diagonal layup. Lead back to 18.
So it went. Wagner could not cut Princeton's lead under 14 and the Tigers could not extend beyond 18.
A pair of Connolly free throws with 8:26 left to play made it a 57-39 game as Connolly was removed for Darrow and received many a high five from his teammates.
This dance detoured under seven minutes, as Folahan curled to the right block, turned and scored on Saunders as a foul was called. A free throw later and the lead was 12.
A Hummer pass to Saunders on the baseline was a touch too strong and smidge too far, going out of Saunders' reach.
As Princeton's defense looked to fill the interior, Murray was wide open on the left arc over Davis for a three point shot that drew Wagner within single digits for the first time since the 4:08 mark of the first half. Princeton called time as the home crowd began to make a bit of noise.
Tested for the first time in the second half, Princeton scored on four straight possessions, putting themselves in opportune positions for points.
Hummer went around Clifton Spiller for a short hook in the lane.
A tipped ball went to Davis and Davis threw ahead to Mavraides for a breakout layup.
Rivers missed a jumper and Maddox was fouled by Thompson trying to go down the right baseline. Maddox made both free throws.
Murray's layup try on the left side was interrupted rudely by Maddox's hand and Mavraides saved the block before it could sail over the far sideline. Mavraides found Davis under the basket diagonally and Davis was fouled, splitting a pair.
A nine point game was quickly a 65-49 one and the Tigers were not tested again.
"We executed," Johnson said of this stretch. "We just dug in, which I thought was nice to see."
Johnson seemed as pleased as a coach can allow themselves to be following the win. The defensive effort was close enough to the offensive effort for him to be comfortable saying "When you get a road win and you're controlling the game for most of the time, you just can't complain. It was a pretty strong effort from our guys."
"I think tonight's 40 minutes was probably as good as its been," Johnson added. "We've won some games but our performance from jump ball to the end has really been inconsistent. That doesn't sit well. We're trying to put 40 minutes to good basketball together and I thought today was pretty solid."
Solid enough for a sixth straight Tiger victory.
-Princeton shot 11-17 from the floor in the second half (64.7%), on their way to a 25-46 mark (54.3%). The Tigers were 3-5 from three (60.0%) and 16-21 on free throws (76.2%).
-Wagner hit 9-22 in the second half (38.6%), 1-3 behind the arc (33.3%) and 14-16 at the line (87.5%). For the game those numbers were 17-44 (38.6%), 2-7 (28.%) and 21-25 (84.0%).
-Rebounding went the way of the Tiger, a 32-23 decision.
-Hummer's eight point, five rebound, five assist stat line should not be lost in the shuffle. Hummer played versus Wagner with his right hand taped up for unknown reasons, orange bands wrapped around his palm.
-Princeton committed 18 turnovers, 11 in the second half.
-Murray (3-9) finished 2-2 from three and Rivers (4-14) was 0-4. "What we tried to focus on knowing what they were trying to free their shooters, no matter how they were going to do that," said Johnson after the game. Wagner came into Friday averaging seven made three pointers. They only attempted seven treys versus Princeton. Murray's 11 and Rivers' 14 were both below their season averages.
-Sophomore guard Jimmy Sherburne played a season-high seven minutes off the bench. "He's been practicing pretty well," said Johnson of Sherburne. "Our guys understand over time that if their practice habits distinguish themselves they're going to get out there and play. I was really pleased to see that some of the things he's been doing in practice he definitely did on the court tonight.
-Folahan was credited with seven blocks, one off the Wagner school record.
-For those curious, the five three point attempts by Princeton were the fewest since they tried just six (and made four) against Dartmouth in February 2007.