Men's Basketball: Tigers regain form entering Ivy play
The men’s basketball team will head into Ivy League play with some much-needed momentum. After a series of close losses and lost leads early in the season, the Tigers (6-7) won three of four games over winter break.
Princeton handled Rider and Bucknell with ease, defeating both by double digits and, more importantly, not letting either team come back late in the game. The early part of the season was marked by leads blown in the final minutes against teams like Northeastern and Wagner, and the Tigers’ ability to finish their more recent games will give them much more confidence as they look toward the Ivy League championship.
Senior forward Ian Hummer said Princeton played Rider, Bucknell, Akron and Elon at the right time since those opponents gave the Tigers good preparation for the upcoming Ivy League schedule.
“Those teams are very similar to the teams we’ll play in the Ivy League,” he said. “They had a lot of shooters, had a couple of big guys.”
In their final game before conference play, the Tigers beat Elon 74-64 on Saturday, avenging last season’s one-point loss. They ended winter break with a flurry of scoring — Hummer tied his career-best performance with 28 points, moving to seventh place on Princeton’s all-time scoring list with 1,381 points. Junior forward Will Barrett put up 17 points, sinking all five of his three-point attempts to help bury the Phoenix.
Elon cut the lead down to six points with a minute and 40 seconds to go, but the Tigers dug in and refused to let another victory slip away. From that point on, they managed to beat Elon’s full-court press and sank nine of 12 free throws to put the game away.
“I think the press really hurt us in a few games this season,” Hummer said. “When teams try to press us now, we can handle it a lot better than we have in the past.”
Princeton took a 5-3 lead three minutes into the Rider game and never let go. Hummer and sophomore forward Denton Koon put up 15 points apiece while freshman forward Hans Brase led the team in scoring with a career-high 17 points. Brase was the first freshman to start for the Tigers since Doug Davis ’12 started in 2009.
“It’s good to have Hans on the floor,” Hummer said. “He’s one of these athletic big guys who can really do a lot.”
Two nights later, Brase scored 14 more points, and Koon set another career high as he and Hummer led the team with 17 each. Princeton rolled to a 79-67 victory over Bucknell, which entered as one of the top mid-major teams in the country.
Akron managed to stop the Tigers’ momentum in Ohio last Sunday. Though Princeton never trailed by more than six points in the second half, taking the lead twice, the Zips went back ahead with 2:36 left and held the lead until the final buzzer.
In the victories over Rider and Bucknell, the Tigers shot over 50 percent from the floor and made over 70 percent of their free throws. Against Akron, those numbers were 48 percent and 63 percent, respectively.
The Tigers will host Penn (2-11) next Saturday in their first league matchup. Usually a tough opponent, the Quakers are coming off of a winless December and have the worst record of any Ivy League team. Princeton’s record is the third-best in the Ancient Eight, and though they are sixth in the league in scoring, the Tigers have allowed fewer points than any conference foe.
“The Ivy League is a 14-game tournament, and every team knows every other team inside and out,” Hummer said. “Overall, I think we have the coaches and the roster to really make an impact on the Ivy League and do really well.”
Reader Comments (0)
No comments yet. Be the first to post your opinion on this article.