Postgame audio - Coach Sydney Johnson, Dan Mavraides & Kareem Maddox:
Princeton did just about everything well but shoot and it was enough.
The Tigers led the entire way, fending off a pair of Yale second half rallies, holding the Bulldogs to 37.8% from the floor.
With their advantage cut to 52-49 in the final two minutes on Reggie Willhite's explosive left baseline dunk, Kareem Maddox posted up inside, spun into the lane and hung in the air as Greg Mangano fouled him on the elbow while the ball floated through the netting. Maddox's three point play doubled the Tiger lead - which stayed at two possessions through the final buzzer.
"This game was an absolute dogfight," said head coach Sydney Johnson. "I'm not saying we were going to win [after Yale drew within three], but we had been in those moments before."
"We weren't afraid of the moment."
Maddox finished with 16 points and nine rebounds on 5-12 shooting. Fellow senior Dan Mavraides put up 15 and a career best 10 boards despite going 4-14 on the evening.
Mangano ended Friday with his traditional double-double (15 and 12) but was bothered by an assortment of Princeton defenders (Maddox, Patrick Saunders, Brendan Connolly and Mack Darrow) so that when the ball went inside to the likely All Ivy center it could not come back to the perimeter. Mangano had six turnovers and no assists. The Tiger guards sagged but were still able to cover the arc - both of Yale's three pointers (2-9) belonged to Mangano - one a wild bank with the shot clock expiring.
The Tigers hit a season low 31.6% of their attempts (18-57) but stellar defensive possessions and a 19-25 clip at the line (76.0%) aided the cause.
Ian Hummer, relatively unfazed by the protective sleeve covering the middle of his left arm, threaded an entry pass to a posting Patrick Saunders and Saunders turned into a short jumper on the right baseline to open the scoring.
Hummer to his left was bodied by Jeremiah Kriesberg for a foul in the act, converting one of two at the line.
Reggie Willhite utilized a screen on the left side for a long jumper that pulled Yale within 3-2. The shots were not coming very easily to the Bulldogs.
Princeton on the other hand was getting the shots they wanted, just faster than they might have liked. That isn't to say the Tigers were uncomfortable with the tempo. They were not. It was the quickness with which attempts were fired and the force with which drives were thrown at the rim.
Hummer's jumper caught the back iron and dropped. Mavraides' nifty spinning finger roll followed a Mangano travel inside and Princeton lead by five early.
Kriesberg got behind a Hummer block attempt for two, then Maddox entered the scoring column off the bench with a short jumper right in Kriesberg's face.
As the Princeton defense continued to impress, the Tigers missed some makable chances and let a few opportunities slip by.
Mavraides pushed to Hummer, who was blocked by Willhite as Hummer went up for a dunk. Going the other way Porter Braswell was fouled slicing to the basket by Hummer and made one of his two attempts.
A posting Mavraides spun out a short jumper, got his own rebound and could not find a cutter from under the hoop - whistled for a three second violation.
Maddox nearly stole the ball from Willhite but traveled behind his back coming up the floor.
"I know we defended well. I know we competed," Johnson said. "Not only did we miss some long shots but there were some layups there that rimmed out."
Brendan Connolly kept the lead at four, blocking Rhett Anderson's layup try, keeping his feet planted and swatting Anderson's second attempt as well.
Five straight misses for the Tigers came without Yale putting the ball in the basket during the same stretch. The Bulldogs went 0-6 from the field.
Maddox's running hook was short and Maddox beat Anderson to the ball, scoring as he went back up and drawing the Anderson foul.
Austin Murphy's three try did not fall. A drifting to his left Mavraides stopped well inside the arc for a pure jumper and a 14-5 Princeton lead.
Mangano scored for the first time with 10:52 left in the half, spinning right off glass over Saunders. It was a rare comfortable touch for Mangano.
Maddox was able to help on defense, blocking a Mangano hook at its apex into Mavraides' hands. Mangano showed a deft feel scoring over Mack Darrow to draw Yale within 14-9.
In for the first time, T.J. Bray was involved in the next two Tiger buckets. Bray set up Davis on the right wing for Princeton's first three of the game and Davis' only conversion of the contest. After a tipped ball by Darrow, Maddox passed ahead to Bray. The freshman from Wisconsin was able to lay the drive home just before a Yale defender could close and block. The Bulldogs called time down 19-9 at the 8:12 mark.
Princeton was able to hold their lead at nine or greater into halftime. After a lefty drive by Maddox sailed too strong over the rim as Mangano closed to block, Saunders was waiting on the other side of the basket uncontested for a bunny and an 11 point advantage.
Mavraides' left baseline drive was blocked by Mangano. Willhite drove to his right and kissed a shot high off the glass over Maddox's attempt to equal what Mangano had done.
With just under five minutes left before the break, Bray led a two on one to Davis and Davis' layup off a bounce pass was blocked out of bounds by Willhite. Mavraides inbounded under the Tiger basket to Darrow, then slid behind Darrow's screen for a midrange baseline jumper.
Braswell's strong drive to his right was answered by Saunders' patient reverse in the post with the shot clock draining.
A posting Maddox was blocked by Mangano. The Yale center camped out in the center of the lane, daring Maddox and Hummer to get by their man and come at him. Maddox recovered and fed Darrow at the top of the arc for his only three of the night. Princeton's lead was a game-high 28-14.
Kriesberg stayed with his wild miss for two. Mavraides' turning jumper was not a good decision and neither was fouling Austin Morgan on the wing in the act of shooting a three. Morgan made two of his tries.
Mavraides fearlessly drove at Mangano and was fouled, converting both attempts at the line.
Princeton could not go into halftime up more than 12, though Yale's mismanagement of the clock gave them a chance. Morgan's three try in the left corner could not connect and Willhite grabbed the offensive board. Instead of pulling back out and holding for one try with the shot clock now off, Willhite fired and missed a contested triple and Darrow rebounded.
With Ben Hazel and Bray in the backcourt, Yale fouled purposefully. The Bulldogs were nowhere near the first foul limit but this move allowed Johnson to bring Davis and Mavraides back in off the pine. A posting Maddox spotted Darrow outside, who could not connect. Maddox controlled the rebound and rushed a deep three point try with plenty of time to spare, going over the baseline with :01.6 showing. Maddox realized the mistake he had made and pointed at himself as if to say "my fault." Saunders intercepted Kreisberg's inbounds heave and it was 30-18 Princeton at the midway point.
Princeton led by 12 despite shooting a 2010-11 first half low of 12-36 from the floor (33.3%), 2-9 from deep (22.2%) and 4-5 on free throws (80.0%). Mavraides' eight led the Tigers on 3-9 shooting. Mavraides added six rebounds, as did Maddox. Princeton grabbed 10 offensive boards and had a 26-18 advantage on the glass.
Yale hit 7-24 (29.2%), 0-4 outside (0.0%) and 4-7 on free throws (57.1%). Kreisberg was the Bulldogs' high man with five.
As soon as play resumed, Yale's mission on offense was clear - reestablish Mangano inside. Connolly's defense forced Magano's first attempt short but Mangano was able to slide in front of Connolly for an offensive board and a third personal on the Princeton center. Mangano made one of two at the line.
The Tigers first three shots of the second half were good looks. None dropped. Hummer's strong move to his left was hooked short. Saunders' help defense poked the ball away from Mangano and Hummer at point blank inside missed off the window.
Following a pair of Braswell free throws Darrow could not knock down a pass that came from Maddox inside. A textbook backdoor - Morgan to Braswell - was a taste of Princeton's old medicine and the Tigers called time up 30-23.
Willhite could not guard Maddox one-on-one and Maddox was fouled in isolation, making both tries to end a 7-0 Yale run.
For the first time this season, Mangano hit from outside versus Princeton - popping at the top of the arc as Braswell found him with one on the shot clock. Mavraides may have been 1-5 from three on Friday but his one make came off the right side to respond, set up by a posting Hummer.
Kriesberg's drop step made it a 35-28 game. Hummer went right by Anderson for a pair.
With the shot clock about to expire, Mangano trapped on the right wing had no choice but to hoist a contested three point shot. Like Johnathan Gray at Cornell six days ago, Mangano's desperation turned to elation as his misfire banked in. The crowd was starting to believe and Yale trailed 37-31.
Maddox's hanging bank versus Mangano was followed by Mangano's spin to his left off the glass catching the far side of the rim and dropping.
His team up six, Mavraides cut into the lane and went down like a shot. A foul was called, but Johnson was insistent that Mavraides lying face down on the floor was the result of more than just a Morgan push in the back. An official review of the monitor at Johnson's insistence showed Mangano had elbowed Mavraides in the grill on his cut. A flagrant foul was called. Mavraides recovered, went to the line and made both free throws.
"I thought I saw some action that warranted a discussion prior to that play," Johnson said diplomatically.
Princeton retained possession but Mack Darrow's three point try on a designed inbounds was off the mark
Maddox down the center of the lane passed to Hummer trying a reverse one-handed dunk. Willhite fouled Hummer hard and Hummer made both free throws to restore a 10 point advantage.
Willhite's desperation three as the shot clock buzzed came up justifably short. Mavraides split two defenders and went right at Willhite, fouled as he extended the ball with his right hand and tried to get it off the rim. Again Mavraides was perfect from the stripe. 45-33 Tigers with 10:56 to go.
A driving Willhite left the ball to Kreisberg, fouled by Saunders for a three point play. Maddox's drive was blocked by Mangano, yet Maddox was able to stay with the ball out beyond the circle for an offensive rebound. With the shot clock dropping Davis entered the lane and Mangano swatted his try as well.
A Braswell layup was goaltended and Yale had drawn within seven.
Davis missed the front end of a one and one at the line before Mangano spinning to his left was fouled by Darrow. Two free throws made it a 45-40 storyline.
A hand-off three for Mavraides missed the rim and went over the baseline to the delight of the Yale student section. Morgan's pull up jumper was errant. Darrow passed on a three and drove to his right, fouled by Morgan in traffic as he got to the rim to send us into the under-8:00 media time out. One of two free throws when play resumed ended a 7-0 Yale run. Princeton had reached the double bonus.
Maddox made a heady decision down low. He began to go into the center of the lane towards a waiting Mangano. The senior tri-captain deftly spun back away from Mangano and scored over Kreisberg off the glass for a 48-40 count.
Morgan's reverse layup pulled Yale within six at the 4:31 mark.
Maddox down the right baseline passed to a sliding Darrow who was fouled by Morgan. Darrow hit two times at the line.
Kreisberg could only made one of his pair after a foul on Darrow. It looked like Darrow blocked Kreisberg clean on the hook, creating a jump ball. A disbelieving Johnson crumpled his paper cup of water into his hands and walked away from the decision down the Princeton bench.
Mavraides' quick trigger three did not find its destination. A Kreisberg drive that looked sure to pull Yale within five was blocked by Hummer closing from the other side of the lane. Princeton could not take advantage. A less than forceful Mavraides pass to Maddox on the left wing was poked away by Willhite, who soared ahead and threw the ball home with his right hand.
Morgan fouled out blocking off Mavraides starting his drive, a questionable call given the circumstances. Mavraides surprised by missing both of his attempts - the first in and out, the second long.
Willhite dunked a second time, racing down the left baseline for an impressive slam. Yale had made it a one possession game for the first time since the 14:57 mark of the first half.
It was a big moment in the game, but as their coach said, Princeton wasn't afraid of the moment. A hanging, squaring Maddox scored over Mangano as the whistle blew for a 55-49 count.
"I think he's the toughest player in the league to guard one on one," Mavraides said of his classmate Maddox. "A lot of guys have to show him a lot of extra attention. He's putting up fantasy numbers every night."
Maddox also made a huge play on the defensive end. His team trailing by six, Mangano started to launch a three point shot cocked behind his head that might cut Yale's deficit in half. The long arm of Maddox caused Mangano to think twice mid-air. Mangano tried to play it off as the world's highest dribble, dropping the ball in front of him, but when Mangano landed back on the floor of the John J. Lee Amphitheater he had double dribbled.
The Bulldogs did not stop the clock and Davis' three to beat the shot clock sailed long. Maddox fouled Willhite on the rebound and Willhite missed the front end of a one-and-one. However, Princeton was called for a lane violation and Willhite proceeded to make both of his attempts for a 55-51 game.
Playing keep away for seven seconds, Davis was fouled with :24.6 on the clock. Davis spun out his first and swished the second.
Yale looked for a good shot and one did not materialize. Running the clock down too long to :10.9 before Maddox bumped Willhite with the ball. Willhite missed the front end of a one-and-one and after two Mavraides tips Willhite rushed an ambitious three from the right wing that came straight to Maddox standing under the basket.
Braswell fouled Maddox and the senior put the Tigers' 10th straight win on ice with two more free throws.
Unlike the conclusion of the first meeting between the two teams, Princeton was poised and attentive late.
"We've helped our opponents at times when we've had some defensive breakdowns down the stretch," Johnson acknowledged. "I don't think we saw that tonight. If they were going to do something, it was going to be pretty special and outside of the norm. That's all you can do defensively is take people out of their comfort zone and pray for the best.
"In that regard, down the stretch I thought we were solid and I was pleased."
-Princeton's shooting percentage actually dropped in the second half. The Tigers were 6-21 from the floor (28.6%) and 18-57 overall (31.6%), 1-9 from three after intermission (11.1%) and 3-18 overall (16.7%). Davis' 1-10 shooting brought the team's percentage down drastically.
-Yale hit 17-45 for the game (37.8%), 2-9 on threes (22.2%) and 15-21 on free throws (71.4%).
-Rebounds went Princeton's way 39-35, but the Tigers had 14 offensive boards to Yale's seven.
-The Tiger bench outscored the Yale bench 24-0.
-Mangano broke the Bulldogs' single season record for blocks with his swat of Maddox midway through the second half, passing Chris Dudley's 1986-87 mark of 67.
-Chris Clement was back in uniform for Princeton but did not see action.