Another year, another thrilling victory for the men’s basketball team against Ivy League rival, the University of Pennsylvania Quakers.
On Saturday afternoon, the Tigers (10-4 overall, 1-0 Ivy League) opened up league play with a win in the Palaestra in a game that came down to the wire. They would need extra time to ultimately come out on top, coming away with a 73-71 victory in overtime. The win also pushes the Tigers’ winning streak against the Quakers to four, going back to the 2013-14 season.
The game was as back and forth as it gets, with neither team proving able to break away from the other up through the end of the game. An early six-point edge taken by Penn (6-8, 0-1) was answered resoundingly by a 17-4 run by the Tigers, who would ultimately enter halftime holding that seven-point edge.
Particularly impressive through the first 20 minutes, and indeed the game itself, was sophomore guard Amir Bell. Bell, who has held a spot in the starting five since his freshman year, exploded in the first half, nailing a trio of three-pointers en route to 17 points, already nearly doubling his season per-game average of 9.5. Bell’s offensive showcase came at just the right time, as the Tigers as a whole had struggled to find the range in this game. In particular, junior forward Henry Caruso, junior guard Spencer Weisz and freshman forward Devin Cannady — the Tigers’ three leading scorers heading into this one — went 3-11, 3-11 and 3-12 respectively on the game.
After ceding the lead by the end of the first, Penn was not simply ready to let the Tigers run roughshod over them on their home court. Despite falling behind by as much as nine in the early goings of the second, the Quakers would respond with a run of their own to get the game level at 49 with just ten minutes to go. From there, it seemed it would be all Penn. The Quakers went on a 15-4, and up 64-53 with 3:38 to go, seemed on their way to a victorious Ivy League opener.
The Tigers, however, had other ideas. They whipped up a timely 13-2 run, sparked by clutch plays from Bell, Weisz and Cannady, who made the game-tying jumper with 20 seconds to go. Penn’s Darius Nelson-Henry was unable to sink the game-winning basket, giving the fans an extra five minutes to a thriller of a basketball game.
Even after having lost what seemed to be a decisive lead, Penn still seemed the likely winners early on in the overtime period, scoring the first five points to push the score up to 71-66. The Tigers would come back once again, using the free throw line to full effect. Behind clutch offensive rebounding leading to second opportunities and strong shooting from the stripe, particularly from freshman guard Myles Stephens, the Tigers went on a decisive 7-0 run to seal the game. Indeed, Princeton’s only points in the entire overtime period would come from the line, as Stephens, Cannady and junior guard Stephen Cook contributed to put the Quakers away.
With the Penn game in the books, the Tigers will play their next game against BrynAthyn College, now riding a three game-winning streak. Following that, they will play solely other Ivy League schools from thereon out — their next game against a member of the Ancient Eight will take place in Providence on the 29th, against the Brown Bears.