Postgame audio - Coach Sydney Johnson, Kareem Maddox & Dan Mavraides:
Trailing 21-13 after 10 unfocused minutes in the first game of their final Ivy League campaign, Princeton's seniors did what you hope your veterans will do.
A driven, determined Kareem Maddox took over Jadwin Gym on Friday night - scoring 11 points, grabbing seven rebounds, dishing three assists and grabbing three steals in 15 minutes of first half action as the Tigers exploded on a 24-2 run fueled by their defense.
Fellow senior Dan Mavraides was one of four Princeton players in double figures, hitting three times from deep for 13. Ian Hummer equaled Mavraides and Douglas Davis did one better. Maddox finished with 15 points and a career high 14 boards.
No one on the Tigers played more than 26 minutes as the orange and black opened the second half on an 8-0 run and never lead by less than 14 before expanded recycling time to close the effort.
"They looked like they'd been there. It is hard to fake that," said Princeton head coach Sydney Johnson about Maddox and Mavraides. "They've been in those moments."
Matt Sullivan led Brown with a career best 22.
His team trailing 5-1 after a miscommunication between Mavraides and center Brendan Connolly permitted lanky sharpshooter Tucker Halpern to size up from the perimeter as both Tiger defenders sagged off, Maddox sat on the bench watching.
Maddox spoke after the game about how he focuses on the differences between practice and live games, quietly observing as his emotions built.
A Mavraides drive set up Patrick Saunders on the right side for three, then Halpern connected from the same spot on the floor a second time.
Freshman guard Sean McGonagill's jumper with a foot on the line from the left corner made it 10-6 Brown.
Mavraides was determined to set an example, both with his aggression and his activity, but turned the ball over three times trying to do too much - Traveling on his first move, loosing possession a dribble in traffic and called for a carry attempting to penetrate with authority.
A Mavraides inbound to a slashing Hummer drew the Tigers within 12-10 at the 12:41 mark.
Epitomizing the effort to this point, McCarthy was able to tip a Matt Sullivan miss home despite four Tigers in the lane. When Mavraides fouled Matt Sullivan popping outside for a three point try and Sullivan made all of his chances Princeton trailed by seven.
Perhaps sending a message, perhaps curious to see what his bench could do differently, Johnson brought Mack Darrow, freshman guard T.J. Bray and as yet rarely used classmate Ben Hazel in to replace Hummer, Saunders and Mavraides.
Maddox drove and dropped a pass down to Darrow under the basket. Darrow was bodied by McCarthy as he went up and banked a shot home, adding a free throw.
A difficult step back jumper for Matt Sullivan took the Bears' lead back to six and a pair of McCarthy free throws set the scoreboard at 21-13 a quarter in to the action.
"I think we got exposed early in the game. They made a couple threes, they had some wide open looks," assessed Johnson. "We didn't look like how we had practiced."
A pair of possessions with the Tigers down eight set the tone for the shift that was getting underway. A driving Mavraides set up Darrow on the left wing for a flat-footed midrange jumper. The shot clanged off the rim and a
fierce Maddox ripped the rebound away ferociously and went back up for two.
Princeton played 35 seconds of inspired defense for the first time in the half and Brown could not get a shot off before the horn. A zip pass by Mavraides to Maddox catching and controlling under the basket later and the deficit had been halved.
Maddox stole the ball and went coast to coast in slow motion, leaving a transition drive short. Again Maddox snatched the ball with two hands and the second chance gave Davis the opportunity to use a Maddox handoff screen for a three pointer.
Brown called time out to try and stop the proverbial bleeding.
As soon as play resumed Davis picked the pocket of the freshman McGonagill one-on-one in the backcourt and had a short distance for an easy layup.
Halpern answered with a floating shot on the left baseline as Maddox got turned 180 degrees to take the lead back for Brown, but that final Bear advantage was extremely short-lived. Maddox utilized a drop step and hung in the air as Dockery Walker fouled him. Maddox converted his free throw for a 25-23 score.
The run, now at 12-5, did not let up. Maddox blocked a Peter Sullivan layup attempt and kept the ball in bounds. Ian Hummer soared for a runner that went down at the other end.
Davis used a low dribble to split two defenders and can a short jumper.
Mavraides was not located in transition and Maddox from the left corner passed to the wing on the same side of the floor for a deep but uncontested three and a 32-23 Tiger lead. A frustrated Jesse Agel burned a second time out with 5:38 to go.
Brown nearly threw the ball away, then Maddox was able to take the ball headed with momentum towards the Princeton basket and Davis was ready to pull up again for a silky jumper. 30 seconds had elapsed and Agel was calling his third time out of the half.
When a posting Maddox went around Josh Biber inside, Princeton had scored 24 of 26 points over a seven minute stretch and held a 37-23 advantage.
"I think we tightened up a lot on defense," said Mavraides of this run. "[Brown] came out and we weren't sound. I don't know if people had the jitters or what it was. We finally settled into the game and started getting stops."
A layup by Hummer calling for the ball after setting up deep in the lane made it a 15 point game. Hazel reached in on Peter Sullivan, who hit both his free throws. Maddox went around his man again, this time torching Walker down low.
An off-balance lengthy deuce by Matt Sullivan just before time expired made it a 42-29 difference at the half.
After missing their first five shots, Princeton followed 17-27 from the floor (63.0%). The Tigers hit 4-7 threes (57.1%) and went 4-6 at the line (66.7%).
Brown shot 10-25 (40.0%), 2-6 from deep (33.3%) missing their last four tries and 7-9 on free throws (77.8%).
After Maddox drew Halpern as his assignment, Halpern only scored two of his team-best eight. The Kareem Maddox who came off the bench on Friday was of a similar vintage to the one Princeton fans have seen since Ivy play started last season - but tonight Maddox added further focus and a touch of controlled rage that inspired his teammates.
He performed like you want a senior who understands he only has 14 more collegiate games to play.
To open the second half, Princeton scored on their first four possessions and put the game in hand.
Connolly came over to help on defense and blocked a Garrett Leffelman layup try.
Connolly then poked out a Hummer miss onto the perimeter and Mavraides fired over Halpern for three.
As Halpern cut, McGonagill passed to the Brown bench and Princeton regained possession. A pivoting Maddox inside took the lead up to 47-29. A high-arcing shot by Davis as he fell to the ground added two to Princeton's advantage.
With 17:33 left, Mavraides fouled Peter Sullivan but Sullivan immediately knew something was wrong. Sullivan raced off the floor holding his right wrist as a trainer rushed him to the locker room. Princeton was allowed to select any Brown player on the floor to shoot Sullivan's free throws and Dockery Walker made Johnson's pick the right one by missing both tries badly.
Sullivan would not return to the game but eventually made his way back to the far end of the bench with his right shoulder iced and a sling on his right arm. Any consoling high fives by teammates were delivered with his left hand.
When play resumed, a leaning hook by Connolly made the edge a game-high 22.
Maddox blocked a McGonagill shot attempt on the left wing and grabbed the ball out of the air with one hand. At the other end of the floor following a McGonagill foul, Davis' triple try was off but Hummer outworked two Brown players on the weak side and was hammered going back up. Hummer split a pair and the lead stood at 52-30 with 15:25 still to go.
The Bears scored six straight, as Halpern banked in a way-off jumper loudly for two.
Mavraides went errant out of the left corner, but Maddox kept the possession alive and Mavraides was happy to make the most of his second chance from the same side of the floor.
A Matt Sullivan three on the left wing, set up by Adrian Williams driving the right baseline, was followed by a Biber offensive board and Brown had a sliver of hope down 14 with 10:15 left.
Darrow made a pair at the line after he was banged around by two Bears inside. Mavraides went quick to his left and headed to the line following a Tyler Ponticelli foul. Mavraides was pure on his first, then missed his second - which Hummer sliced in to grab and lay home. Following a Davis jumper off a Mavraides assist picking up a loose ball and the lead had returned to 21.
Johnson continued to work new faces into the rotation alongside familiar stalwarts. Bray and Hazel joined Maddox and Connolly for a spell. Hummer ended Maddox's excellent night with 6:23 left and Hummer served as the experienced presence as senior Bobby Foley replaced Darrow.
When Jimmy Sherburne relieved Hummer with over five minutes to go and Princeton up 23, the only question left to be answered was:
Will freshmen Daniel Edwards and Tom Noonan score their first collegiate points?
The answer was yes.
Edwards' basket was a short hook with just over three minutes to go. Noonan closed the scoring with a turnaround jumper out of the post.
Brown cut a game high 70-46 Princeton lead down to the final margin against the reserves.
It was a slow starting, ultimately decisive curtain jerker for the Tigers. A pair of Princeton seniors wouldn't allow the result to be anything else.
-Princeton finished the game 27-57 from the floor (47.4%), 7-20 from three (35.0%) and 17-26 on free throws (65.4%).
-The Tigers' "Starting Six" of Saunders, Hummer, Connolly, Davis, Mavraides and Maddox were 23-41 (56.1%) for the game. The rest of the team hit 4-16 (25.0%). A similar split for three pointers went 6-13 (46.2%) versus 1-7 (14.3%).
-Princeton outrebounded Brown 42-28, 25-13 in the second half.
-Brown's Dockery Walker started a painful 0-6 at the free throw line before making 4-5 to close his night.
-Sophomore Will Barrett was the only Princeton player on the roster not to see the floor. Barrett is out with what is reported to be a broken coccyx.
-A well-rested Tiger team turns around to host Yale on Saturday at 6:00 pm ET.