Men's Basketball: Tigers maintain Ivy League perfection
Princeton men’s basketball (10-7 overall) stayed perfect in the Ivy League this weekend, defeating both Cornell 76-59 on Friday and Columbia 72-66 on Saturday to attain the perfect 3-0 mark.
The Tigers got off to a slow start against Cornell, trailing 17-8 early. But they rallied to take a 35-30 lead going into halftime and continued to build the lead, which was as large as 21 points with two minutes to go in the game. Despite feeling the pressure of the Cornell defense early, Princeton still shot 53 percent from the field on the game.
After the cold stretch, first year coach Mitch Henderson ’98 said he “just really liked the way the ball moved and the way we handled ourselves.”
The Tigers took advantage of the halftime adjustments Cornell made to try to stop senior forward Ian Hummer, who made 18 of his 22 points in the first half. Hummer’s strong play in the first half opened up looks for his teammates, especially for sophomore forward Denton Koon, who had a career-high 22 points in the win. This is the third time Koon has reset his career high this season. He also had three steals on the night.
“I played well in the first half, and then they changed a few things up and that opened up stuff for my other teammates, so Denton was one of those recipients, and I think it was overall just a great team effort,” Hummer said.
Freshman forward Hans Brase, co-led the team with nine rebounds in the game.
However, while the Tigers were able to pull away convincingly from the Big Red, this would not be the case the following night against the Lions.
The Tigers’ three-point shooting ability kept them in the game early as they were a perfect 7-7 from deep in the first half, including basketss by junior forward Will Barrett, junior guard T.J. Bray and senior forward Mack Darrow.
Princeton started the second half slowly offensively, shooting only 1-7 in the first five minutes of the half, and Columbia was able to hold the game close up until the end, when Bray hit a big three-pointer as the shot clock expired to give Princeton a 64-59 lead with two and a half minutes left to play. Bray would go on to lead the team in scoring for the game with 17 points and was named player of the game. Koon also stepped up big offensively for the second night in a row.
“They kinda doubled down on Ian a little too hard there with the clock ending, and he made a great kick out to me and felt a guy coming, so I just pump-faked and then let it fly, and luckily it went in,” Bray said. “We shoot every day in practice; we get a ton of shots up , and they’re just starting to come, they’re coming within the flow of the offense more, which is good. a lot of inside-out stuff, and when you’re stepping into shots, they’re a lot easier to make.”
Despite being second on the team in scoring with 16 on the night, Hummer had only four points from the field on 2-8 shooting, with the rest coming from the foul line. Hummer was the only Tiger to miss from the field in the first 10 minutes of the game but was still able to get to the free throw line, where he went 12-14, and had seven assists on the night. However, this still moved him up into sixth overall on the Tigers’ all-time point list as he passed assistant coach Brian Earl ’99.
The Tiger defense, after being unable to stop Columbia’s penetration into the paint for most of the game, finally showed itself with 45 seconds left to go in the game to seal the 20th consecutive home Ivy League victory for Princeton. Princeton and Harvard are the only two undefeated Ivy League teams with the Tigers only three games into league play.
“We just lost some of our principles a little bit, but when we needed some huge stops, we got them. I thought we got some really big stops right at the end of the game, but it’s something we’ll have to take a close look at,” Henderson said. “I really feel like down the stretch we made the right plays.”
The Tigers have now won their last five games, and seven of their last eight games overall. They look to continue this streak on Friday night against Brown at 7 p.m. in Jadwin Gymnasium.
Correction: Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this article incorrectly claimed that sophomore forward Denton Koon and freshman forward Hans Brase were classmates. The ‘Prince regrets the error.