The men’s basketball team came into this weekend looking to continue its undefeated season in the Ivy League and to extend its unbeaten streak to 15 games. Two tough opponents in Columbia (11-14, 5-7 Ivy League) and Cornell (7-20, 3-9) lay in its path though. Both of these teams played Princeton (19-6, 12-0) close at home earlier this season.
On Friday night, the Tigers took the short trip up to New York City to face the Lions in Levien Gymnasium. After a close first half that ended with Princeton leading by five, 27-22, the Tigers were able to pull away in the second half to win by 19, 64-45. Strong individual performances from sophomore guard Myles Stephens who had 16 points and seven rebounds and sophomore guard Devin Cannady who had 18 points were key to Princeton’s victory. In addition, senior forward Pete Miller led the way on defense with eight rebounds and one block. Miller has been a key contributor on the Tigers’ defense all year that has allowed an Ivy League-leading low of 61.8 points per game.
On Saturday night, Princeton went up to Ithaca for the Big Red’s Senior Day. The game followed a very similar pattern as Friday night’s game with the Tigers leading by one at halftime, 35-34. In the second half Princeton broke away again to win by 15, 75-60. Once again Cannady led the way for the Tigers doing a bit of everything with 26 points, five rebounds and two steals. Cannady was on fire from three-point range this weekend shooting 6-11 against Columbia and 6-10 against Cornell, which gave him a shooting percentage of 57 percent from beyond the arc this weekend. Even for Cannady who has been hot from deep in the field all season, shooting 41.9 percent, this was a good weekend.
With these two wins, Princeton maintained its lead in the Ivy League over Harvard by two games. In addition, the win over the Big Red clinched a share of the Ivy League regular season title for the Tigers — the 27th in school history and the first since 2011. The 15-game winning streak that Princeton continued this past weekend is the longest winning streak since the 1998 season when the Tigers had a 20-game winning streak until they lost to Michigan State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
In an interesting twist of fate, Princeton’s current head coach Mitch Henderson ’98 was a captain of that team, which was the last Princeton men’s basketball team to win a game in the NCAA Tournament. Henderson was able to lead that time to a five seed in the Big Dance and a No. 8 ranking in the AP and Coaches Polls. Henderson’s time on the court may be done, but perhaps he can coach the Tigers to another run to the tournament.