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Maine 58 Princeton 55 (OT).

Box Score

Postgame audio - Coach Sydney Johnson, Zach Finley & Kareem Maddox:

Princeton led for most of the night, but Maine led when it mattered most - at the final buzzer.

The visiting Black Bears rallied from seven points down with six minutes remaining to force overtime and then held off the Tigers in the extra frame for a 58-55 victory.

Maine improved to 3-0 on the season with the win while Princeton fell to 0-2.

"Our inexperience showed," said Princeton coach Sydney Johnson after the tough loss. "I don't think that we had a good understanding that we were controlling the game. It is painful to have to learn this way."

Freshman Doug Davis was the Tigers' high man for the second straight outing, scoring 14 points on 6-12 shooting. Dan Mavraides added a career-best 13 off the bench, 11 in the first half.

For Maine, Kaimondre Owes recorded 11 and Junior Bernal tallied 10. The Black Bears' leading scorer, Mark Socoby, was 0-6 from the floor and did not score until OT.

Playing repeated possessions against a zone defense for the first time this season, Princeton took an early 7-2 lead. The Tigers ran a high/low set to overload the Maine zone, freshman forward Patrick Saunders manning the free throw line and center Pawel Buczak moving from block to block down low.

Davis attacked the center of the defense for a free throw distance jumper over the long arms of two Maine defenders for the Tigers' first field goal. A high arcing three point shot by Kareem Maddox on the wing and two Buczak free throws gave Princeton their early advantage.

The orange and black were up 11-7 after Sean McNally reversed an offensive rebound for Maine. Princeton proceeded to turn the ball over on four straight possessions. Maddox threw an errant cross-court pass that was picked off by Maine's Malachi Peay. Dan Mavraides, in for Jason Briggs, telegraphed a pass that Peay intercepted. Patrick Saunders had the ball knocked out of his hands by Gerald McLemore and McLemore tied the game at the other end of the floor with a three point shot.

When a pass by Maddox rolled off of Mavraides' hands and out of bounds, Coach Johnson had seen enough. Sauders was replaced by freshman Max Huc, who had played just two minutes in the season opener versus Central Michigan.

Like Marcus Schroeder in the Tigers' first game, Huc provided the additional ball handler that Princeton needed to control the offense.

A drive by Huc drew defenders with him and Huc zipped the ball across his body diagonally to Mavraides on the other side of the floor for three to make the score 17-15 in favor of Princeton.

Maine would answer with an 8-2 run, capped off by an open Andrew Rogers three pointer in the corner.

Coach Johnson went to the bench again, bringing Zach Finley in for the first time. Finley's left hand remains taped up, limiting his productivity and the number of minutes he can play, which explains why Buczak started both halves for Princeton. The core of Finley, Mavraides, Huc, Davis and Maddox would play almost all of the remaining minutes in the first frame.

Princeton trailed 23-19 with 7:59 to go before intermission. Huc was running point for the Tigers on some possessions, trying to utilize Davis' speed away from the basketball.

Keen inside/out play between Maddox and Mavraides resulted in a three point shot for the latter to pull Princeton within one.

The small crowd at Jadwin Gym roared a minute later when Davis threw a diagonal pass from behind the three point line over the rim to Maddox, who had crept down the baseline behind two Maine defenders, slamming the ball home on the opposite side with two hands. This was the start of nine straight for the home team. Mavraides laid back a Huc miss for two. Off a missed layup by Peay for Maine, Princeton got out in the open court on a secondary break. Maddox passed up a somewhat contested shot in lieu of a speedy pass around the horn to Mavriades wide open in the corner, who buried the jumper. A laser from Maddox to a cutting Huc boosted the Tiger edge to a game-best eight.

The final two baskets went to Maine and Princeton had a 31-27 lead after twenty minutes of play.

Princeton was 12-24 from the field in the first half (50.0%), The Tigers were 5-10 from behind the arc (50.0%) and 2-2 at the stripe (100.0%). Maine shot 11-27 (40.7%), 4-7 outside (57.1%) and 1-2 from the line (50.0%). The Black Bears were out-rebounded 18-10, with Buczak grabbing a game-high five boards.

The Tigers scored first when play resumed. A three point shot by Buczak barely grazed the rim and Maddox found himself abandoned under the iron for an easy one-handed put-back.

A defended Buczak in the corner hit Davis up top with with 15:03 remaining to make the score 38-31.

Princeton's lead reached seven points on three other occasions midway through the second half, but the Tigers could not cultivate that advantage.

Finley returned to the lineup with 12:19 remaining and Coach Johnson would ride the same five he used for the latter third of the first half for the duration of this game - Finley, Maddox, Mavraides, Davis and Huc.

With Maine down 42-35 after a quick Finley spin move on the low block, Princeton appeared to go up nine when Huc banked one home inside, but the Tiger freshman stepped on the baseline before making his move.

It was a six point Princeton lead when a driving Maddox found Finley for two on the opposite side of the paint with 5:03 to go. this would be the Tigers' final field goal of regulation. A blind slap follow by Troy Barnies spinning in the lane after missing from close cut the score to 48-44.

Finley made both free throws after going back up after snagging a Mavraides miss.

The Tigers, who had held Maine at bay despite never leading by more than eight, began to do uncharacteristic things in the waning moments.

Finley started to make a move in the post before setting his feet, traveling in the process.

A drive by Bernal made it a four point game.

Maddox's three pointer was way off target.

Owes posted up the smaller Davis deep in the center of the lane. Two point game.

A Davis three point shot skimmed iron and somehow found Mavraides on the ground surrounded by three Black Bears. Mavraides had the presence of mind to call time out and the Tigers retained possession up two with 1:43 to go.

When action resumed, chaos ruled.

As the shot clock ticked towards single digits, a Finley pass went awry and was destined to be a backcourt violation, if Maddox had not leapt well over the halfcourt stripe and saved disaster by getting the ball back into Finley's hands. With both teams scrambling, Finley found Huc through the key on the other side of the basket and Huc went up with the ball. The ball rolled off the rim as the official blew his whistle and a sure Princeton turnover was now two free throws with 1:11 on the clock.

Huc's first attempt clanged off the iron, but the second was true and the Tigers had a three point lead.

A one-handed spin move from Owes drew Maine within one.

Princeton got the match-up they wanted in the position they wanted it. Finley took the ball on the right block and fit his body through a small seam as the Black Bears doubled the post. Finley's left-handed hook looked perfect, but the ball rolled around the rim and out.

Bernal drove the length of the floor and was fouled by a closing Maddox with :38.4 on the clock. Bernal was long on his first attempt but true on the second and for the first time since the first half, the score was even.

Princeton called a time out with just over half a minute to go. When play resumed the ball started in Davis' hands, who passed off to Mavraides. Davis got the ball back and waived off Huc from the top of the arc. As time dwindled, Maviraides regained possession, driving with his left hand into the paint and losing possession as he started to go up with the potential game winner. Maine called time with three seconds on the clock.

Now Maine had the ball and a chance to win. Going from the backcourt to the top of the arc, Bernal released a line drive that crashed off the center of the backboard and caught its fair share of the front rim as time ran out, sending the game to overtime.

Maddox jumped tip to start the bonus basketball and lost the leap, making the Tigers 0-3 so far this season on jump balls.

Mark Socoby, so quiet in the game I haven't mentioned his name since the top of the page, went right at Mavraides and got past him to the left side. Maddox, the last line of defense, had no choice but to foul instead of conceding the basket. Both free throws were good and Maine led for the first time since the first half.

The Tigers caught the Bears on Mavraides' drive in traffic, but Maine answered as Maddox left his feet on a pump fake, giving Barnies a chance to drive and score.

Finley had the ball on the arc for the Tigers and Huc came up to meet him for an apparent hand-off, instead going around the screen and cutting to the basket on the other side of the junior center. Finley found Huc in stride to tie the score.

Maddox fouled Bernal hard on another drive and Bernal was good on both free throws.

Mavraides' jumper that could have knotted the score was short, but the rebound came to his teammate Huc. Mavraides faked a three and pulled up for a long two off the dribble later in the possession that was off mark. Davis fouled the rebounding Rogers, who made one of two, giving Maine a three point edge.

The Tigers tried to find an equalizer, but there was nothing there, forcing the Princeton bench to call a time out with ten seconds left. When play resumed, things didn't get much better. After Maddox dribbled up top off the inbounds, Finley ended up with the ball at the top of the arc, but passed up his first career three point attempt for a feed off to Huc well behind the arc on the right wing. Huc's desperation jumper could only connect with the backboard, banking away from the rim as time ran out.

Coach Johnson understood that a chance for his team to take an important step had passed them by. "I don't see any way to get where we want to get until we are able to close out a game like this," Johnson observed.

The Tigers are a play or a player away from having their record reversed. "We're getting a contribution here but not there, a contribution there but not here," Johnson added. "When we're hard to beat, we'll have that consistency and we'll be able to lean on each other every night. Right now we're trying to find ourselves. I don't think we're lost, but we need to find ourselves in those key moments. That's all the difference in the world right now."

For now, Princeton remains a team searching for an identity and a victory.


-Princeton finished the game 22-50 from the field (40.4%), 6-20 from behind the arc (30.0%), 1-10 in the second half and overtime. At the free throw line, the Tigers were 5-8 (62.5%). The Black Bears were 21-52 from the floor (40.4%), 4-12 from three (33.3%) and 12-18 at the charity stripe (66.7%).

-14 offensive rebounds and 39 total rebounds went to Princeton. 10 offensive boards and 25 total rebounds belonged to Maine.

-Zach Finley had eight points and eight rebounds for Princeton off the bench.

-Kareem Maddox played all 45 minutes, the only player to do so. Maddox handed out five assists and handed away four turnovers. Maddox also controlled a game-best 10 rebounds.

-Princeton turned the ball over 19 times on Wednesday, giving them 40 turnovers through two games.

-Michael Strittmatter and Zane Ma were in civis for the second straight night.

-The Tigers travel to Army on Sunday afternoon at 2:30 pm ET. Princeton has lost their last 21 consecutive road games.

David Lewis said,

November 19, 2008 @ 9:52 pm

That was brutal. Princeton did much better offensively in the first half when they had Finley/Burzak in the low post and let the guards create shots. We even got a few offensive rebounds and easy put back baskets. In the second half the offense became stagnant when we went to the more traditional Princeton offense and had Finley in the high post and used a lot of dribble hand offs and screens. The players did not know what to do and there was too much standing around. With the guards we have this year, Sydney should play a more up tempo game and run a lot more fast breaks. Rarely has Princeton had the personnel to play up tempo but this year it would be mistake to limit the team to a half court game.

Mark Disler said,

November 20, 2008 @ 10:04 am

Jon: As always, thanks for all you are doing for Princeton basketball and its fans.
Is there anything publicly available about the status of Ma and Strittmatter -- why they are in civilian clothes and when they might be back? Thanks.

Jon Solomon said,

November 20, 2008 @ 10:09 am


Both are out with injuries. You can hear Coach Johnson talk about each player's ailments in our pre-season interview, available here. I do not know an ETA for either.



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