Princeton currently trails Penn 33-30 in the first semifinal matchup of the inaugural Ivy League Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Palestra. In what can only be described as a fiery and emotional environment, Princeton was faced with a hostile crowd in an arena filled with local Penn fans.
The Quakers capitalized on this and jumped on the Tigers early, rushing out to an early 7-2 run until senior forward Stephen Cook drilled a 3 at the 15:40 mark to halt the run. Stephens would add another 3 of his own just a minute later.
The Tigers made up some ground in the next minutes by turning to their post game. Cook forced a foul when driving inside and made 1 of 2 at the charity stripe, while an inside feed from Cook to senior Spencer Weisz brought the game to within one (16 - 15) at the 10:22 mark.
However, the Quakers responded with fast offense and stifling defense. Kickstarting the run was a fadeaway 3 pointer by Penn senior Matt Howard as the shot clock expired, followed by a fast break layup by freshman Devon Goodman. Penn would then force Princeton into back-to-back travels and extended their lead to 28 - 19, forcing Princeton to call a timeout at the 6:02 mark.
Once again, the Tigers used their inside presence to make up ground. After a period of sloppy play, buckets inside by Bell, Cook, and Bell again highlighted a 6 - 0 run and put the Tigers within a bucket, 2 minutes left on the clock.
The atmosphere got heated on both sides in the final minute of the half, when a foul was called on Penn, followed by a Princeton backcourt violation that was overruled by the officials. Amid a chorus of boos from the fans, Myles Stephens made another inside bucket to end the scoring of the first half.
Amir Bell leads the Tigers with 5 points while sophomore Devin Cannady leads the team with 3 rebounds. Myles Stephens had two assists for the Tigers. For Penn, freshman Ryan Betley hit a perfect 5 - 5 in the first half, including two three pointers, and led all scoring with 12 points.
The Tigers shot 44% from the field in the first half while the Quakers shot 54%, including 50% from beyond the arc. The Quakers also out rebounded the Tigers 14 - 13.
In the previous two matchups between the teams this season, Princeton found itself going into the second half with a comfortable lead. This time around, the roles are reversed, as Princeton will now be looking to mount a comeback with its season on the line.
More to come...