Postgame audio - Coach Mitch Henderson:
Postgame audio - Douglas Davis & Ian Hummer:
The difference in effort and execution between Saturday’s dismal start to the 2011-12 season versus Wagner and yesterday evening’s game at North Carolina State was significant.
Princeton played the game they wanted to play at a more manageable speed, cutting down on many of their defensive lapses and turnovers.
Unfortunately, the end result was the same when time expired.
DeShawn Painter’s long jumper from just inside the three point line broke a 58-58 tie with four seconds left and ruined this much-improved performance by the Tigers in Raleigh.
Less than half a minute earlier Douglas Davis knotted the score with a three point shot drifting to his right, Davis’ fifth three and the seventh deadlock of the evening.
Princeton was unable to get off a better look than a half court try by Ian Hummer as time ran out.
Davis (21 points) and Hummer (15 points) found offensive support from the rest of their lineup in stretches but Mitch Henderson is still looking for both a third offensive option as well as his first win as a collegiate head coach.
“We feel like if we can just execute our stuff we’ll be OK. I thought out defense really helped us out,” Henderson said. “I think we took a step forward but I don’t think there’s a guy on this team who doesn’t think we can be better.”
The Tigers again struggled at the free throw line and on defensive rebounds, but a far sounder defensive effort kept them in the game during a second half where Princeton made but 28.6% of their attempts.
Lorenzo Brown’s 16 paced four NC State players in double figures.
From the opening tip, starting the same five they did their first time out, the Tigers played like a team determined to avoid repeat embarrassment. There was a mannered but effective quality to their offense and the communication on defense seemed better among the starters.
However, the first offensive possession was the start of a new troubling trend. Will Barrett won the opening tip from Painter and his hard curl drive to the bucket teased off the iron, the first of six missed first half layups from Princeton.
Brendan Connolly kept his feet planted on defense in the post and was able to block a Richard Howell layup try.
At the other end of the floor Connolly’s hand off screen to Hummer gave the Tiger junior space to rise from behind the arc for the second three point shot of his career.
Following an offensive putback by C.J. Williams, an open Barrett pushed a backdoor try a touch too hard and into the hands of an NC State defender.
Barrett then fouled Painter on a drive from behind, leading to two free throws.
On the play, Wolfpack sharpshooter Scott Wood went down with a right foot injury. He had to be carried off the floor and did not return, his foot placed in a boot.
With Princeton up 5-4, T.J. Bray picked up a loose ball and started a two-on-one with Barrett. Bray passed to Barrett who bounced back to a cutting Bray on the left. Bray scored as Alex Johnson slapped his arm for the three point play.
Patrick Saunders replaced Barrett at the forward position and the offense began to really cook. The orange and black made nine of their first 13 field goal attempts. Davis popped on the right side, the first of four straight Princeton threes to open the game.
Hummer stole the ball from Johnson and fought off his man for a layup ahead of the pack and a 13-6 Tiger lead.
Brown went at Davis for two pushed off the glass before Hummer on the right baseline found Davis stopping midrange to get that pair back.
Freshman Denton Koon came off the bench for Bray, seeing meaningful minutes for the first time. A posting Koon couldn’t save an entry feed on the baseline. Later a Koon drive to his left was blocked out of bounds.
A cutting Bray freed up an unobstructed Saunders on the left wing for a rainbow three and a 20-14 Princeton edge.
Bray came up with a steal at one end before giving the ball back on a bad bounce pass at the other. Williams was able to get in the clear with momentum for a one-handed slam.
Mack Darrow, in for Connolly, set a sizable screen Davis was able to sneak behind for three.
Koon looked like he traveled but got the whistle after going up and drawing contact from Jordan Vandenberg. Koon’s first collegiate free throw spun around the rim several times and in. The second was long.
Princeton left a lot of points at the line (a horrid 3-9) and at point blank range via missed layups. The Tigers had far greater success from 19’ out then they did 19”.
Turnovers had not been an issue to this point but Hummer was cut off on a drive and lost the ball. Layup for Tyler Harris. Then Hummer had the ball clean ripped out of his hands on the sideline by Williams. Layup for Brown.
Barrett overcame his early struggles scoring at point blank range by stepping father away from the basket. Barrett from the wing made it 27-22 Tigers.
Following two misses at the line by Hummer, fouled on a jumper, Barrett faked a three and stepped to his left for a long deuce.
On an inbounds by Bray, Barrett was able to push a closer try home. The lead was nine for Princeton.
Looking to go up double figures Bray had the ball stolen by Brown for a layup the other way and Davis wild among the bigs transformed into a Richard Howell layup and a Hummer foul.
Reeling slightly and the crowd becoming more involved, with Hummer relegated to the bench after picking up his second personal, Princeton hung tough. A three by Davis off the dribble gave the Tigers a 34-28 edge.
Ben Hazel, in for the first time, was fouled on a drive with his back to the basket, missing both free throws. It was Saunders who moved away from his rebounding zone to track down the ball on the baseline. His scoop resulted in:
-A late whistle.
-A later bump in the head.
-A lot of boos from Wolfpack fans.
Saunders made one of his two attempts.
Brown drove and dished to Painter as Saunders slid up. With the shot clock off Davis held the ball, waved off Darrow and penetrated. A wild attempt right before time expired did not connect and Princeton’s lead was three at the break.
Halfway home Princeton was 13-25 from the floor (52.0%), 6-7 from three point range (85.7% with Davis recording the lone miss) and 3-9 at the line (33.3%). The Tigers had eight assists and nine turnovers. Davis’ 13 points led all scorers.
NC State made 14-31 (45.2%), 0-5 outside the arc and 4-6 at the line (66.7%). The Wolfpack had nine offensive boards (leading to 11 second chance points) and a 20-13 edge on the glass.
The first time that NC State had the ball in the second half, Henderson countered with a zone defense that resulted in a steal for Bray. Barrett’s quick three was long and the Tigers settled back into their man principles. Hummer poked a post feed away for a second turnover into Connolly’s hands.
A tough Hummer spin shot generated out of a long time in the post was off target.
Princeton’s third time down the floor Hummer to Davis backdoor was unsuccessful as Davis could not reverse his shot over the 7’1” Vandenberg.
Brown was able to finish a teardrop and Barrett was stripped in the post leading to two more for Brown. NC State led 36-35, their first advantage since the 18:04 mark of the first half.
Using a huge Connolly handoff screen, Davis stopped the 14-4 NC State run with a three.
Connolly continued to look for his first field goal as a junior. His right-handed push went way over the rim.
Davis tried to go for a steal in the post allowing Williams to get to the basket.
Hummer drove to his left and drew the defense, slipping a pass between Painter and Vandenberg to Connolly on the other side of the iron. Connolly gathered and laid the ball home for a 40-38 score.
That count doubled when Hummer drove to his left after an unforced Wolfpack turnover and floated in a high arcing hook above Painter. 14:34 remained in the second half.
Princeton went cold offensively, but their defense kept them within range. The Tigers missed 10 consecutive shots.
Williams faced up Hummer for a tying jumper.
Connolly passed up an outside shot and swung the ball to an uncontested Bray for a three that was left long.
Darrow tried to pop a quick triple shortly after returning to the floor, then a deflected ball came to Vandenberg on an offensive rebound for a point blank layin.
A three from Barrett in a very small window came up short of the rim. Saunders’ long two was blocked and a handoff from Darrow to Saunders did not end with a made shot behind the arc. Vandenberg got a piece and was rewarded running the floor by Johnson for a big slam.
NC State had their biggest lead of the night, 46-42. Princeton called time out.
7:15 without a point on Princeton’s side of the scoreboard ended when Saunders found Hummer with deep position and the junior turned to the glass and was fouled by Harris. Both of Hummer’s free throws were true.
The Wolfpack tried to go at Saunders many times in the post and on this occasion Painter scored a jumper over him.
Johnson was whistled for an offensive foul screening Davis in the low block. As Princeton moved up court, NC State coach Mark Gottfried was flagged with a technical foul.
Davis made both his attempts and Princeton retained possession down two. However, Hummer lost the ball making his move and Bray fouled Howell on the wrist as he sailed up to the rim.
8:58 without a field goal concluded as Saunders stepped out to the top of the arc and fired in a triple off Bray’s assist. A well-designed play saw all the action sail left giving Saunders the space to move into position. It was a 50-49 game.
Howell added a free throw before Hummer cleaned up a Davis jumper which landed short of the rim in downright Lorenzo Charles-y fashion for the game’s fourth tie.
Williams’ blind reverse was short attacking Bray. Connolly went to a hook out of the post that shook in and out. Quickly Johnson raced the other way for two.
Hummer and Connolly teamed up on a pick and roll, Hummer pumping his fist as a diving Connolly took his pass and laid it in with 3:12 showing.
Brown muscled his way at Davis for two before a chin cut by Hummer meant he and a Bray pass arrived by the basket simultaneously.
As NC State worked the ball on the perimeter, Hummer slid up and was a fingernail away from getting his fingers on a Williams pass. Instead of a deflection stopping the clock, Hummer’s swipe brushed just air and Johnson rose out of the corner for the Wolfpack’s only three point shot of the evening, giving NC State the 58-55 edge with 1:57 showing.
“If I was two inches closer I would have tipped it or just controlled it,” Hummer said disappointedly. “That’s the thing in basketball, you can come so close but those are plays that make a big difference.”
Out of a Wolfpack time out, Saunders tried to tie from the left wing and fired long.
Bray blocked Brown from behind with under a minute remaining. Again Saunders tried to tie but this try from the top of the arc sailed slightly to the left.
With no choice but to foul, Princeton had to grab NC State four times to get them over the limit. Davis swiped Brown in the backcourt with :30.1 showing.
Brown could not connect and Connolly rebounded. Princeton did not call time and brought the ball up. Davis kept floating to his right as he dribbled trying to find a window and eventually was able to clear enough space to shoot and connect on a superb game-tying jumper. The Tiger bench exploded.
“I was waiting for the hedge but it really never came,” explained Davis.
With the shot clock off NC State came over half court. Brown was guarded by Bray up top and started to drive, opting to dish to Painter just inside the arc. The shot appeared to be one Princeton was happy to see in this circumstance but Painter knocked it down anyway with Saunders coming out on him.
“When a player hits a shot like that…if he steps up big like that you can only pat him on the back,” Hummer said.
The Tigers called time with just over four seconds showing. In their final possession, Davis initially was the inbounder, passing sideways to Bray coming back over the baseline. Bray fed Hummer in the paint who was trying to turn and feed a sprinting Davis up the far sideline.
That pass was not available and Hummer, the second option, was forced to spin up the floor and begin to push up a runner by half court with a second to go. He likely could have afforded himself at least one more dribble. The shot was on target but short of the mark as the clock ran out.
Improved defense allowed Princeton this final chance.
“That was the key,” Henderson said. “We were able to stay in the game and tie it up at the end because of our defense. It was something we really stressed the last three days.”
“It was a winnable game,” Hummer admitted. “A couple turnovers here. A couple rebounds here. It could have been different.”
Despite coming so close on the floor of an ACC foe, Princeton did little to answer who their third scoring option will be to complement Davis and Hummer. Saunders and Barrett had their moments, but neither has put together a complete half.
Bray showed a steadier hand in a career high 34 minutes as he seems to have taken over the Committee to Replace Dan Mavraides with now-supplementary assistance from Koon, Hazel and Jimmy Sherburne. However, Bray seems the fifth option offensively.
“We need an answer,” Henderson admitted. “Will is getting good looks. Those layups have to go in for him. He’s making shots from the perimeter.”
Henderson knows the answer to this question. “It’s Brendan,” he stated candidly. “We have confidence in Brendan to be a good player for us. But Brendan at some point he has to own those moves. They have to be his moves.”
The Tigers require someone to step forward for these winnable games to then become wins.
-Overall Princeton shot 21-53 (39.6%), 8-28 in the second half (28.6%). The Tigers were 9-19 from three point range (47.4%) and 7-13 at the line (53.8%).
-Princeton only had two second half turnovers.
-NC State shot 26-54 (48.1%), 1-8 from three (12.5%), 7-11 on free throws (63.6%). Lorenzo Brown had eight of his team’s 14 assists.
-The Wolfpack grabbed 40 of the game’s 64 rebounds.
-With 21 points Davis passed Chris Thomforde, Rick Hielscher and Frank Sowinski into 12th place all-time in scoring at Princeton. Davis’ total currently sits at 1,143. Next up is Steve Goodrich at 1,209 points.
-The game was played at a far more manageable pace of 63 possessions.
-Princeton was 0-9 on two point jumpers in the second half.
-A big difference in the decision: NC State was 15-25 on layups, tips and dunks. Princeton was 9-19.
-Tom Noonan did not travel with the team and Brian Fabrizius was relegated to warmups