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Princeton 70 Penn 58.

Box Score : HD Box Score

Postgame audio - Coach Sydney Johnson, Kareem Maddox & Dan Mavraides:

Postgame audio - Ian Hummer:

Postgame audio - Dan Mavraides:

Every day from the time he was hired on April 23rd, 2007 Princeton head coach Sydney Johnson has shown up for work and seen it.

It hangs high above the floor of center court at Jadwin Gym, furthest to the right of the five identical orange and black banners.

The other four rectangles are bloated with 24 different white-stitched years.

It is stark by comparison.

Princeton Men's Basketball
Ivy League Champions

To the right of those numbers, there has remained a void of empty black space longing to be filled.

With the Tigers' 70-58 win at Penn to close the 2010-11 regular season, the gonfalone will finally be altered. Princeton erased an early eight point second half deficit and outscored Penn 36-15 over a 13 minute stretch to secure a share of the Ivy League title.

Now the Tigers will play Harvard on Saturday afternoon at Yale to decide which school represents the conference in the NCAA Tournament.

"I've dreamed about this moment for a long time, since the day I arrived at Princeton," Johnson said from the cramped Palestra media room. "That was my goal for our players. I wanted them to have the experience I had."

After missing their first shot of the second half, Princeton hit an incredible 14-17 from the field (82.3%) and made 19 of their 23 free throws. There weren't many empty possessions.

When the final buzzer sounded, Kareem Maddox fell backwards onto the floor of the Palestra with his arms over his head. It was fitting that the entire Tiger squad came over to lift Maddox up, as he had carried his teammates for the second half.

Maddox punctuated a compelling case for Ivy Player of the Year (votes are due tomorrow morning) with 21 points and five assists in the final 20 minutes. The senior tri-captain finished with a game-high 23 and was 11-12 on free throws in the second stanza.

"Several different people - coaches and players - came up to me at halftime and said 'be more aggressive,'" Maddox admitted. "I didn't realize I wasn't being as aggressive as I normally am."

While he struggled for the majority of the evening, Patrick Saunders canned two three pointers from the near corner in front of the Princeton bench during the Tigers' second half run. A driving T.J. Bray set up Saunders to launch and the result was a 55-42 Princeton lead with 5:25 showing.

Penn leading scorer Zack Rosen was limited to five points on 2-8 shooting and was held two assists below his season average. Tyler Bernardini had 18 for the Quakers, but he was 4-12 from the floor.

Penn honored five seniors before Tuesday's game and placed four of them in the starting lineup - Jack Eggleston, Conor Turley, Andreas Schreiber and Darren Smith. To counter with speed, sophomore Will Barrett received his first career start for Princeton in place of Brendan Connolly. Barrett allowed the Tigers a different defensive look and Barrett's length helped sew up the perimeter.

After being tied or trailing for the previous 120 minutes of regulation in their last three meetings against the Tigers, a drive by Rosen to Turley on the right side provided the Quakers an early 2-0 lead.

Douglas Davis' three from the far corner was short, but Barrett grabbed the rebound and was fouled by Schreiber on the follow. Barrett knocked down one of two.

Barrett blocked a follow try by Turley that somehow did not make it into the stat sheet and at the other end Davis on the right wing found his stroke for an early two point Princeton lead. It was the start of an 11-2 Tiger run that could have been even more significant.

Hummer stole the ball from Smith and his race the other way resulted in a layup try which rolled off the rim. Dan Mavraides' follow also teased and Mavraides rebounded a second time in the center of the lane before Smith grabbed the ball back.

At the 14:59 mark Penn brought traditional starters Mikes Cartwright and Tyler Bernardini in to the lineup.

Mavraides, who drew the primary assignment of Rosen, guarded him tight, then drew back at the right moment to anticipate Rosen's entry bounce pass for a steal. Mavraides promptly set up Hummer for a high hook in the lane.

Saunders on the left block fed Hummer on the right who bobbled for a second and sent the ball outside to Mavraides on the right wing. A wide open Mavraides had plenty of time to comb his hair, have a drink, set his feet and launch his first three of the proceedings. Penn called time out.

A designed inbounds from Cartwright to Eggleston was too easy. Maddox altered Bernardini's first look from outside and Davis on the right connected a second time for a 12-4 count.

One possession after setting up Davis, Mack Darrow broke up a lob from Bernardini and then stepped outside as Mavraides drove for a three on the left wing. Princeton led by 11.

Penn, with little to play for but a combination of pride, historical dislike and finishing with a .500 record, responded with a lengthy run. The Quakers were able to limit the entry passes to the posting Maddox and Hummer and in a reversal of historical fortune looked to slow down the potent Princeton offense.

Darrow was doubled and lost the ball to Cartwright for a layup. A contested Davis three was off the mark and Cartwright had a great, close spin on Barrett away from the left baseline for a lay-in.

Bernardini inside for his first basket of the game and two Cartwright free throws after driving at Davis made it a one possession affair. It was also Davis' second personal foul and with 7:47 to go he was done for the half, replaced by Bray.

For the first time in a long time Bray looked like a freshman in the opening half at the Palestra - nervous on defense and unsure on offense.

Leading 15-13, Bray showed a moment of great poise, taking a pass from Mavraides and bouncing a feed to Maddox on the opposite side for a layup and Maddox' first/only points of the half.

Bernardini became the first Penn player to connect from the arc, hitting up top with Saunders trying to get his arms out in time.

When Mike Howlett slipped guarding Barrett, the lanky forward knew to go right up with the ball and score. 19-16 Tigers with 5:36 to go. Princeton had started strong and then withstood a Penn outburst, but these would be their last points of the first half.

Mavraides missed a three and Barrett pushed Howlett on the rebound, sending Howlett to the other end for a one-and-one, which he converted both sides of.

Hummer's hook in the center of the lane was no good and Rosen got on the scoreboard with a three on the far side over Mavraides. Penn was back in front.

Cartwright's drive did not go and Cartwright tried for a sneaky steal from behind the rebounding Maddox. The intention was clever, the result was a second personal foul for the freshman.

Turley bumped Bray on the perimeter and Bray went to the line, where he missed the front end of his one-and-one.

Hummer picked up a loose ball and went the other way. Rosen never gave up on the play, slapping the ball free from behind and breaking up the layup try. When play resumed Turley fouled Hummer hard away from the ball and it was Hummer's turn to miss his one-and-one. Princeton was leaving points off the scoreboard.

Bray broke up a hand off screen between Howlett and Rosen. Hummer to Maddox resulted in a short jumper that sailed long.

Cartwright had the ball on the left side with Eggleston to his left. Darrow got caught with his head turned and Eggleston backdoored Darrow, dunking a Cartwright bounce pass with two hands.

Princeton called time out down 23-19 with :25.2 showing to set up a play with the shot clock off. After running the clock to 10, Mavraides dribbled to his left from the top of the arc. His pass to Bray was subsequently slapped free by Bernardini and Bray pushed Bernardini from behind with one second on the clock, a terrible final Tiger possession. Bernardini was unable to do any further damage from the line, as he too missed the front end of a one-and-one.

Once leaders by 11, Princeton trailed by four at halftime.

The Tigers shot 7-25 in the opening 20 minutes (28.0%), 4-11 from deep (36.4%) and 1-4 on free throws (25.0%). Princeton had five assists and 10 turnovers.

Penn made 8-19 attempts (42.1%), 2-7 threes (28.6%) and 5-7 at the stripe (71.4%). The Quakers also had five assists and 10 turnovers.

If the first half ended badly, the second half started worse. Rosen zipped a pass to a cutting Eggleston for a two-handed slam. A turning bank by Maddox was short and while Bernardini could not connect, Eggleston easily tipped a follow home over Davis with his left hand.

Johnson had seen enough and called an early time out - one that would prove to be critical with his team trailing 27-19.

"We talked about at halftime about playing with passion and then we come out and we're going through the motions," Johnson said. "This was not the game to do that. This wasn't the game to ease into things, it wasn't the game to be laid back - it was the game to put our absolute heart out there."

"[Coach] was getting into us," Mavraides revealed. "We were getting away from what we've done this entire season - play together and stick to our defensive principles."

Or, in the words of assistant coach Brian Earl: "The guys just have to play harder."

Princeton made up the eight point deficit in under two minutes. Maddox with his right hand over Eggleston was the Tigers' first field goal sine the 5:36 mark of the first half. Rosen lost the ball behind his back and out of bounds with the shot clock dwindling. Maddox at the elbow found Hummer reversing for a pair.

An open Cartwright three using a Turley hand-off banged in and out. Mavraides hurled an outlet pass to Hummer ahead of the pack and Bernardini grabbed Hummer from behind without making a play on the ball. An intentional foul was justly awarded. Hummer made both attempts and Princeton kept the possession. Maddox spinning over Eggleston knotted things at 27.

Howlett posted Saunders in the lane and as his shot sailed to the rim the whistle sounded. A free throw later and Penn was back up three.

Princeton began to get the ball to Maddox in space. Instead of straight posts, Maddox was set up with the ability to dribble away from his man - he was now the nexus. It required a lot more ball control than was usually expected of Maddox but he was up to the task. Maddox went into the lane cautiously and again found Hummer reversing - this time fouled by Zack Gordon as Maddox bellowed while he shook. The free throw was no good.

Hummer blocked a Gordon layup try loudly and Mavraides had possession looking to get the lead back for Princeton. Dribbling to the left corner Mavraides passed back to Saunders, who lost the ball onto the sideline. Cartwright's drive to Howlett for two made it a three point game once again.

Senior to senior, Maddox recognized Mavraides on the left wing for a game-tying three.

An offensive rebound by Gordon was followed by Maddox out of the double passing to Hummer for a layup try. Hummer made one of his two chances.

Maddox took the lead back for Princeton at the 13:06 mark, using more dribbling to set himself in a position to leap at Howlett for a whistle and two conversions.

Eggleston couldn't knock down a left baseline jumper but Barrett could find Hummer to his left, fouled hard by Howlett. Hummer made one of two a second straight time. 36-34 Tigers.

Mavraides picked up his third foul with 12:17 left in regulation and headed to the bench, replaced by Davis. When Mavraides left the game the score was tied. He'd have one of the best views in the gym for Princeton's 19-6 run.

It started as a back-and-forth trade of offensive conversions. Maddox drove on Eggleston and scored. Eggleston's three was short and the loose ball bounced to Bray, driving the length of the floor once he controlled beyond the three point line as he fended off Rosen and Cartwright.

Eggleston backed in Davis after recognizing a mismatch for two. Maddox answered by bounding into the lane with the shot clock at three for a score.

Penn isolated Cartwright on Davis up top with all other Quakers drawing to the two wings. Cartwright was able to get past Davis, then took four steps as he was engulfed. Throwing the ball up to the rim, Turley tipped in the miss.

Hummer dropped to the left baseline at Turley for a 44-40 count.

Rosen's second and final field goal, a right elbow jumper over Bray, drew Penn within two.

On Princeton's next possession the ball went from Maddox to Davis to Saunders on the near side by the Tiger bench. Any adversity to this point was erased by a high arc rainbow over Eggleston's approach as Davis pumped his fist inside the lane.

Cartwright's floater was short. Saunders at the top of the arc also came up short but the ball tipped to Maddox and Eggleston fouled him. Two free throws made it a three score game.

Hummer got a piece of Eggleston's three point try, which Turley controlled. Bernardini's right baseline jumper became a Saunders weakside rebound.

Maddox at the free throw line set up Davis in rhythm on the right wing. All of a sudden the Princeton lead was a more comfortable 52-42.

Maddox blocked Bernardini's outside jumper into the hands of Bray. It was Bray's drive that set up Saunders for a flatfooted shot in front of the Princeton bench and Penn called time now down 13 with 5:23 to go.

Mavraides returned to the floor, delighted by what he had missed.

"There was a little stretch there where I was on the bench watching them play and it was great - open three, layup, open three, layup. It was the most fluid that I've seen," Mavraides said. "I don't get that much time on the bench to just watch my team go work. It was really beautiful. The ball was swinging around, they were playing good D but we were making the right passes.

Maddox and Hummer were able to block Penn three point tries because the Tiger defense did not bite on pump fakes and accepted their individual assignments.

Maddox chased Bernardini through screens but did not take risks. Hummer shadowed Eggleston. When he was in, Mavraides checked Rosen and cut off his drives. Only Cartwright versus Davis provided Penn with an advantageous matchup.

"Our defense was there, ready to go, right at the beginning," stated Mavraides. "It faltered definitely for the rest of the first half and the very beginning of the second half. At some point it just clicked. When we get stops everything else works for us."

While Princeton was awful on free throw attempts in the first half, their ability to get to and convert from the line kept Penn at bay.

Bernardini made two. Maddox made two.

Bernardini scored and Saunders was late on a blocking foul. Mavraides made two.

Bernardini went down the right baseline but left his reverse short. Excellent interior passing by Maddox to Hummer slashing made it 61-47 with 3:41 to go.

Cartwright rolled in a spinner. Maddox's miss inside was a rare non-conversion for Princeton. Eggleston was fouled by Maddox on the second chance and Eggleston made both sides of his one-and-one.

Bernardini fouled Maddox trapped in the far corner and Maddox made both ends of his single bonus free throws. 63-51.

Penn's fleeting chances came and went. Bernardini caught on the left wing and launched a deep three over Hummer. When Princeton inbounded Maddox passed diagonal to Davis, who slipped on the Palestra floor, allowing the ball to go out of bounds. The Quakers curled Bernardini for another three try that did not connect, Maddox rebounding with two hands hugging the basketball.

Maddox spun to his right around the smaller Rosen and hung in the air for a push shot that snapped in. Rosen couldn't convert a jumper and instead of passing to Barrett alone ahead of the pack Mavraides tried to dribble down some clock and lost the ball over the Princeton baseline.

Cartwright crossed over Davis up top, got past Hummer and exploded to the rim - dunking in the grill of the closing Barrett for an impressive three point play.

Not phased, Princeton made five of their final six free throws. A pair from Mavraides with 41 ticks to go was the final stamp on what would become a happy but not overenthusiastic celebration. There were many embraces and wide smiles

The Tigers had scored 51 second half points, the most by any Princeton team in any game over the past 14 seasons.

As they sat on the bench by their coach's orders following a 12 point loss to Harvard on Saturday night, Princeton visualized this scene. Now they were going to enjoy it. Johnson's motivational tactic had paid off.

"We needed to draw a direct line between our effort, what we did not bring to the game and the final result," Johnson said of his decision to stay and watch the Crimson's court-storming celebration. "I didn't want us to be able to run away and hide from that. They outplayed us, they out-executed us, they wanted it more. They got the result we wanted. We needed to see that when you get outworked, you get out-executed, when people want it more - they get to celebrate. If you want to do anything about it, you're going to change your ways.

"It has been a battle. It has been a struggle. It has been the hardest thing I've done in my life," Mavraides confessed.

"Right now I am loving this moment. We're Ivy League champions. We're putting 2011 up on that banner."

A banner on the far right in the rafters of Jadwin Gym that will now be a bit more crowded.


-The Tigers were a ridiculous 14-18 from the floor in the second half (77.8%), 4-5 from outside (80.0%) and 19-23 on free throws (82.6%). Their effective field goal percentage was 88.9%. Overall Princeton shot 21-43 (48.8%), 8-18 (50.0%) and 20-27 (74.1%) from those same locales.

-Penn was 20-49 as a team (40.8%), 3-14 from three (21.4%) and 15-18 at the line (83.3%).

-Princeton won the boards 33-25. The Tigers had nine offensive rebounds and both Hummer and Mavraides grabbed seven.

-With Barrett in the starting lineup, Connolly did not see action for the first time this season.

-The fifth straight win over Penn is the longest stretch without a loss since a 6-0 run from the 1996 playoff game until a 50-49 comeback over the Quakers at the Palestra in 1999.

-The Tigers' 26 Ivy titles are now the most for any school in the Ancient Eight.

-Tickets for Saturday's playoff in New Haven go on sale at 9:00 am ET.

Coco said,

March 8, 2011 @ 10:44 pm

A nice win. Now we need one more. Unfortunately it is also mid-term week on campus, so here's hoping they can do well on two fronts.

No matter what happens Saturday, to finish the regular season at 25-6 is a terrific effort.

Sydney and staff and all the players have done a tremendous job of making us forget that only four years ago Princeton was 6-23 (and 3-11 in the Ivy).

Princeton basketball, the championship tradition continues...

David Lewis said,

March 8, 2011 @ 11:23 pm

It's amazing how a team can look so lost on offense in the first half can look so incredible in the second half. I missed some of the first half. Princeton was leading 15-10 when I arrived at the Palestra. Penn's defense was incredible. Then the Tigers started throwing the ball inside to Maddox and Hummer and they could not be stopped. Why didn't we do that in the first half? Princeton could have easily choked under the immense pressure of the moment but refused to let that happen. This was a very satisfying win in a very difficult place to play. Princeton has now beaten Penn five times in a row. I don't think that has happened very often. On to New Haven. Even if Princeton loses to Harvard, I think they clinched a berth in the NIT with tonight's impressive win. Great job Tigers.

Patrick Ying said,

March 9, 2011 @ 1:02 am

Since 2006, all regular season conference champions who do not go to the NCAA tournament receive an automatic bid to the NIT.

Jon Solomon said,

March 9, 2011 @ 1:04 am

The Ivy League has said the loser of Princeton/Harvard is not guaranteed an NIT bid.

R.W. Enoch, Jr. said,

March 9, 2011 @ 1:13 am

What a special night in so many ways. I'm glad, no matter what, they get to put a 2011 up on the ceiling in Jadwin.

It seemed like the team solved a lot of the problems that had been bugging them the past two games during the second half tonight. They figured out how to defend under the hoop without fouling too much. They figured out how to do that without leaving anyone open for easy long balls. They figured out how to allow Maddox and Hummer to carry the team when necessary. Some of the guys even seemed to find their shooting stroke again.

I hope that carries over, along with the drive and intensity, to J.J. Lee Ampitheater on Saturday. If it doesn't, we're doomed. Penn missed a lot of shots either way, Harvard probably won't.

The press conference was great. Best one I've ever heard (even with what sounded like a power outage). Coach J opened up a little more than his usual guarded self. I liked the comments about Eggleston, what it means for him and Coach Allen to work at their alma maters, etc.

I know Ivy Play-offs have historically been barn-burners, but I am more than a bit skeptical that Payne Whitney will sell-out on Saturday.

Jon Solomon said,

March 9, 2011 @ 1:20 am

The power went out for about two seconds in the entire Palestra midway through Coach Johnson's press conference.

william sword said,

March 9, 2011 @ 7:43 am

notwithstanding jon's comment about Bray being a freshman and looking like one in the first half, the game turned with him and douglas davis in the backcourt when the Tigers went on a tear in 2nd half. Bray is a much better passer than Dan M who likes to dribble and doesn't see the open man, especially, of course, the openest man in Philadelphia, Will Barrett (not once but twice near the end of the game). Penn's defense and our inability to get the ball to Hummer and Kareeem in the first half (and missed short shots), was completely reversed in the second half. credit the passing and cutting. plus having the right 5 players on the court for an extended time without needless substitutions.

david bennet said,

March 9, 2011 @ 11:14 am


Can you provide more insight into the Barrett start and non-playing of Connolly? Is this something of which we can expect more of in the future? Connolly does not seem to have grown into the center we were/are hoping hw would/will. Your thoughts on the two?

Jon Solomon said,

March 9, 2011 @ 11:20 am


Sydney addressed this when I asked during the postgame. Based on that and my own observations:

1. With Penn starting their seniors, Princeton went with Barrett for some more speed from jump. Makes sense.

2. Connolly provided good minutes up at Dartmouth, at Columbia and in both Cornell games. I love his explosive reverse spin out of the lane and hope to see him use it more. There just wasn't the right moment to go to him off the bench, especially with what Princeton was running in the second half isolating Maddox as the nexus.

3. Versus Penn, Barrett helped guard the perimeter in a way BC can't. His length is really problematic for smaller shooters that he can still stay with. It also allowed Maddox, Hummer and Mavraides to sure up their assignments.

4. Barrett has been practicing very well and would have seen more time earlier had he not injured his tailbone a few weeks ago.

How's that?


Jack said,

March 9, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

Interesting comments on Eggleston. He played in high school here in Ft. Lauderdale at St. Thomas. My impression at the time was we didn't seem to show much interest in him back then.

Jon Solomon said,

March 9, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

As a senior, Jack Eggleston would have been a Joe Scott recruit (like Kareem Maddox, who plays a similar position).

jomfive said,

March 9, 2011 @ 1:48 pm

What a rewarding finish to a great regular season for the Tigers. I am glad that the team is relishing the win and the shared Ivy championship. Thanks, Jon, for your usual in-depth coverage of the game. I especially enjoyed the videos you posted. Beat Harvard!

Steven Postrel said,

March 9, 2011 @ 9:03 pm

That was very satisfying despite another second-half breakdown of ESPN3's feed (this time, instead of being blurry it provided a sequence of sharp, but widely separated still photographs accompanied sporadically by voiceover). I felt very happy for all the guys, who showed that effort and perseverance really do work. Saunders's threes were especially sweet, and the interior passing between Hummer and Maddox was great. Shutting down Rosen wasn't chopped liver, either.

Seven games away from the title! The order of the day: Survive and advance! So say we all.

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