Men's Basketball: Cagers stop slide with commanding road win
The men’s basketball team bounced back from an overtime loss to Wagner by beating Kent State 62-50 Saturday night. The win improved the Tigers to 3-4 in the season while dropping the Golden Flashes to 5-3.
Princeton took control of the game very early by opening with a 16-2 run in the game’s first nine minutes. The opening stretch included four three-pointers by the Tigers, which was a promising sign for the team as they had previously struggled from downtown, making less than a third of their outside shots before Saturday.
Kent State improved from that point on but struggled to overcome the large deficit it faced. The hosts ended the first half with a 10-3 run, reducing Princeton’s lead to eight at the break.
Princeton stopped Kent State’s attempts to get back into the game in the second half, thanks largely in part to a strong defensive effort. A 6-0 run by Kent State with less than five minutes left cut the Tigers’ lead to six points, but Princeton responded by closing the game out with a 7-1 run of its own.
“I thought we did a great job of handling pressure down the stretch and keeping our composure,” junior point guard T.J. Bray said. “Every guy that played made some huge plays for us down the stretch and contributed in big ways.“
The visitors’ effort in the final minutes was a positive sign for the Tigers, who had struggled late in other games this season — such as their previous contest against Wagner, in which Princeton led for all of regulation until Wagner tied it late and won in overtime.
“It was a very big win for us after losing four of five,” Bray said. “Kent State is a good team, and beating them on the road is especially tough. It showed us that we have the ability to be a really good team when we play well together and compete.”
The win definitely appeared to be the result of a team effort, as Bray, senior center Brendan Connolly and sophomore forward Denton Koon all scored in double digits, with two more Tigers scoring at least eight points. Princeton was able to overcome the fact that its leading scorer, senior forward Ian Hummer, was held to only five points and committed seven turnovers.
The Tigers shot 55 percent from the field and 47 percent from beyond the arc, both large improvements over their season averages. The team also did a better job passing the ball around, resulting in 18 assists on 22 made shots, their second-best total of the season.
Offense was not the only thing the Tigers did well, as they held Kent State to its lowest total of the season. Princeton allowed the Golden Flashes to shoot a mere 34 percent from the field and had a 33-27 advantage in rebounding.
The Tigers will now have a week to prepare to face Drexel on Saturday afternoon in Jadwin Gymnasium, an opportunity for them to get back to .500.
“To continue the success, we have to keep competing,” Bray said. “We can’t ever take our foot off the gas against the teams on our schedule. If we compete for 40 minutes every night, I think we’ll be pretty tough to beat.”
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