Postgame audio - Coach Sydney Johnson, Dan Mavraides & Ian Hummer:
Cornell aspired to decelerate Princeton like they did 13 days previous up in Ithaca, where they held the Tigers under 60 points for the first time this season and it took a Kareem Maddox jumper in the final 10 seconds to decide the outcome.
The second meeting between the two schools was not as drawn out, just as Princeton head coach Sydney Johnson likes his team to play.
"Here's a little bit of propaganda, but it's from the heart: I think people, they try to slow us down," Johnson said. "As amazing as that sounds - that's how I feel, that people are trying to break our rhythm. What I share with the guys is if we can do it in a wise fashion, we want to break the press and go."
In the latter third of his 29 years at Princeton, Pete Carril bemoaned that if he had faster players on his roster he would play at a faster tempo. It has taken Johnson four seasons - his first year Princeton's pace was 331st in the nation - but his lineup now allows his team to hasten their offense when the opportunities are there.
The tortoise has become the hare.
"We're very comfortable scoring points. We can play fast and we can embrace that," said Johnson. "I don't want to turn the ball over and have it flying all over the place, but if you're going to give us two-on-ones and three-on-twos, we're going to take it."
Score they did. The Big Red was unable to break the Tigers' offensive rhythm and Princeton put up 84 versus Cornell - the most facing an Ivy foe since an 85-57 win over Brown in 2000. In a game full of runs heading in both directions, Princeton's final push was the largest and the longest.
Leading 61-59 with 11:03 left in the second half of a back and forth basketball game, the Tigers began on a 20-3 spurt across the next nine minutes to put their 21st win of the season away.
Ian Hummer was one of four Princeton players in double figures with 20 points on 9-11 shooting and nine rebounds. Dan Mavraides, playing his penultimate game at Jadwin Gym, re-found his touch with four three pointers and 17 overall. Douglas Davis hit five times behind the arc for 15 and Maddox added 13 points and eight boards.
Chris Wroblewski's 14 paced Cornell.
The Tigers had 25 assists on 33 baskets, shooting 62.3% from the game - repeatedly able to solve the Big Red pressure for numerical advantages. Princeton's shooting percentage was the highest versus an Ivy opponent since 62.5% shooting (25-40) against Harvard in 2006.
Coming off a weekend road trip where made outside shots were at a premium, Princeton was able to successfully run their offense inside/out via the half court and advance the ball with numbers when Cornell tried to pressure in the front court.
Princeton recorded the first six points of the night, all point blank attempts. Davis on the left baseline slipped a pass to Brendan Connolly as Davis was falling backwards and Connolly banked home the bunny behind Josh Figini. Errick Peck's left baseline jumper was well-contested by Patrick Saunders and following a Mavraides miss from outside, Hummer ran the ball down at the free throw line and set up Saunders for a short floating push on the left baseline.
Mavraides was doubled up top well beyond the three point line as a second Cornell defender hedged to him. Mavraides was eventually able to split the double and find Hummer open on the right side. Hummer finished and was fouled by Peck, missing his free throw.
The next three minutes went about as poorly as possible for Princeton: four straight turnovers. Following a pair of Mark Coury free throws, Davis led a three-on-two and threw a pass off Saunders' leg. Drew Ferry converted a quick transition jumper, then Davis lost the ball to Wroblewski at half court and Peck hung in the air for two. Mavraides had the ball stripped by Wroblewski and Peck bisected the lane as he soared for a one-handed slam. Wroblewski's third straight steal was of Hummer, but this time Coury left a layup short. When play resumed Coury rolled to the basket and laid home a Wroblewski pass. Cornell had 10 straight and a four point lead.
Hummer doubled on the left baseline found Davis outside. Going 0-7 from deep against Brown did not effect the junior guard, on target the first time he fired from three.
A Wroblewski triple over the oncoming Hummer boosted the score to 13-9 Cornell. With the Big Red pressuring Princeton, having forced five turnovers in less than six minutes, the Tigers were able to break ahead for easy baskets as long as they held on to the ball. Saunders found Hummer going left for two by a helpless Coury.
Wroblewski could not hit from outside and Mavraides up the right side perfectly underhanded the ball up to his classmate Maddox for the two-handed alley oop throwdown. Coury dove to the basket for a pair, but Princeton was off to the races - scoring 23 of the next 29 points.
Mavraides' spin off of Peck made it a 16-15 game in favor of Princeton and the Tigers' lead would not be relinquished.
Max Groebe could not get a shot to go and Mavraides went diagonal to Mack Darrow from half court in stride for two.
Peck's wild hook over Davis was returned by Eitan Chemeinski to draw Cornell within one. On their next break, Maddox dished to Darrow for a layup.
Things were going so well for Princeton that a Darrow pass from the right wing went straight through the hands of a posting Will Barrett on the right block and across the paint to Maddox in motion for a two hand dunk. Running back up the floor Darrow and Barrett pointed at each other with a smile that said "nice pass."
Cornell switched into a zone defense, which Davis made them regret from the top of the arc, the assist to Saunders.
Hummer entered the lane from the arc and set up Mavraides up top for three. A curling Johnathan Gray could not connect and Mavraides hit a second time from a step further behind the arc.
"It is nice to come in and hit one of your first couple and get into a rhythm," Mavraides admitted.
The play was set up by Maddox. Princeton had tried to advance the ball, but Maddox needed to save behind his body over the baseline. The accidental pass went beyond Wroblewski's reach and over to Hummer coming back from center court.
A cross court pass by Maddox to Davis made it 34-19 and Hummer to Maddox cutting behind the defense created a game-best 17 point lead. Cornell coach Bill Courtney threw up his hands.
"This game was pretty special because we played inside/out," assessed Hummer. "When you have guys on the outside hitting shots it really spaces the defense out."
Cornell responded with a similar run. Ferry launched from the far corner for three. Hummer's push was no good and Gray hit on the right arc.
A beautiful fast break where the ball never touched the floor went Saunders diagonal right to Barrett on the right sideline back diagonal left to Hummer off the glass.
Six straight free throws drew Cornell within 38-31 at the 3:05 mark. Mavraides was whistled for an offensive foul and Johnson came dangerously close to a technical foul when he held up four fingers to the officials and said "that's four," unhappy with the previous four straight rulings.
Groebe connected over Mavraides to make it a four point game. The next whistle on Cornell, where Ferry was booked guarding Davis, drew sarcastic applause from the fans at Jadwin. T.J. Bray dribbling into the paint was fouled by Coury helping on defense and Bray knocked down both ends of a one-and-one.
Groebe got Maddox in the air and stepped to his left for a three that concluded an 18-4 Cornell run.
Ben Hazel, in for the first time, nicked a Wroblewski three. An out of control Barrett inside drew a fortunate whistle and made one of two free throws. Cornell held for the final shot and Hazel stayed with Wroblewski, a midrange jumper coming up short as Hazel caught Wroblewski on the elbow. No whistle sounded and Princeton went to the half with a 41-37 lead.
When the Tigers held on to the ball, they did great things with it. The Tigers made 16-27 shots (59.3%), 5-9 three pointers (55.6%) with all shots by either Davis or Mavraides and 4-7 free throws (57.1%). Princeton had 14 assists on their 16 field goals and 10 turnovers leading to 16 Cornell points. Davis and Mavraides each tallied nine.
"We really just shot very poorly our last game," Johnson said. "It is nice to see the ball go in for Doug and Dan because they're a big part of why we are where we are right now."
Coury, a 52.2% free throw shooter, made 7-8 in the first half and totalled 11. The Big Red were 11-31 from the floor (35.5%), 5-15 from outside (33.3%) and 10-12 at the stripe (83.3%). Wroblewski had six assists.
Cornell continued to get open looks as play resumed. An extra pass by Jake Matthews to his left found Wroblewski in the left corner for a three.
Matthews tried to flop in the post guarding Hummer but did not get the call, Hummer turning and scoring with ease. Josh Figini cleaned up a Wrobewski jumper that Connolly blocked for a one point game.
Davis slipped behind the arc and chucked in a Mavraides pass. After Peck split a pair at the line, Hummer showed off a new shot in his arsenal of post moves - a reverse lefty flip under Peck.
Peck's offensive rebound and shovel pass to an open Wroblewski on the left block made it 48-45 Tigers.
Good combo work from Maddox to Mavraides to Davis on the right wing was rewarded with three more. Peck went around Mavraides for two before Mavraides did one better from the right, set up by Maddox out of the post. Mavraides' heat check well beyond the top of the arc came up short.
Will Barrett played four second half minutes in Ithaca but did not see action versus Yale or Brown. In the second half of Friday's game he was active at both ends of the floor.
For example, with 14:23 left in regulation Barrett used his long reach to slap the ball away from Wroblewski, then canned an open three set up by Mavraides' drive - just his third trey of the season. Princeton had rebuilt a 10 point lead.
Cornell responded. Wroblewski used a screen and dropped into the left corner for an uncontested three. Barrett spotted fellow sophomore Hummer positioning himself deep under the basket for an easy scoop.
Princeton shifted into a zone, which a driving Miles Asafo-Adjei broke with a diagonal pass to Drew Ferry on the wing.
Maddox blocked a Ferry jumper on the left baseline and controlled the ball in mid-air, then threw his outlet right to Wroblewski - who passed across his body past Maddox to Gray for a 59-55 count.
Barrett to Hummer for a short jumper in the lane took Princeton back up six.
Wroblewski missed an open look and Gray grabbed the offensive board, slapped by Davis going up. Two free throws and it was 61-59 Tigers with 11:22 showing.
Coury went for a steal of Maddox's entry pass to Hummer, allowing the junior forward to turn and lay the ball in. Groebe's hesitation drive got past Mavraides but the ball didn't get past the rim. Mavraides launched on the left side over Grobe and ran back down the floor doing some sort of hands-as-eyeglasses gesture with three fingers extended on each hand to the Princeton student section. When Maddox stepped past Peck to the glass and scored as the whistle sounded the Tiger lead had returned to double digits.
Barrett fouled Gray attempting a three and Gray made two of his chances.
Hummer faced up Coury and was fouled exploding to the right baseline. Two free throws kept the lead at 10, 71-61.
Princeton's last run wasn't over. Mavraides got by Wroblewski and torqued the ball in off the glass as he sailed. Wroblewski was fouled by Barrett in the lane but the 83.2% free throw shooter missed one of two.
Maddox went by Coury to his left and scored. Cornell missed four consecutive three point shots as Princeton's looks came from considerably closer. Maddox to a cutting Barrett off the glass. Hummer from Davis for a left baseline touch shot. Barrett to Maddox for two more. 81-62 Princeton with 2:40 left and the last run had made the difference.
The only remaining drama was if sophomore Jimmy Sherburne would become the final player on the Tiger roster to record a field goal in the 2010-11 season. A spinning drive by Sherburne caught the front rim and dipped in with 39 seconds to go for the game's final margin.
Mavraides' second to last collegiate home game had a happy ending, one he hopes to repeat on Saturday versus Columbia as Princeton looks to go a perfect 12-0 at Jadwin Gym this season.
"My senior year, we're in a chance to win it and make that goal come true," Mavraides said wistfully. "Tomorrow will be a special game for me, Bobby and Kareem. Definitely."
-Princeton's hot shooting improved in the second half and the Tigers did a much better job taking care of the ball: 17-26 from the floor (65.4%), 5-9 for three (55.6%) and 4-5 at the line (80.0%). Their second half assist-to-turnover ratio was 11:4. For the game Princeton was 33-53 overall (62.3%), 10-18 outside (55.6%) and 8-12 on free throws (66.7%).
-Davis and Mavraides combined to go 9-15 from three point range.
-The Tigers were a ludicrous 21-26 (80.7%) on dunks, layups and tips.
-Cornell shot 20-54 (37.0%), 8-25 from three (32.0%) and 18-25 on free throws (72.0%). Wroblewski had only one assist in the second half.
-The Tigers' 25 assists were a season high and the most since 28 dimes in 2000 versus Brown.
-Will Barrett's stat line was top notch. In 22 minutes he scored six points, grabbed five rebounds, dished four assists and did not have a turnover. "I thought his length could bother some people," Johnson said of his decision to use Barrett more. "He rewarded us with some pretty solid defense. I don't think that's the last of him. I was happy with what Will gave us tonight."
-A moment of silence was held before the game for Christian "Crunch" Regulski. A Nestle Crunch sweatshirt and pillow sat over an empty chair on the Princeton bench and players had the word "Crunch" added in orange lettering to the center of their warmup tops. "Crunch, he meant a lot to this program and a lot to everyone on this team," Mavraides said after the game. "This is the least we could do to pay tribute to him. He really had a huge impact on my life personally and I know a lot of the members of the team as well."