Men’s basketball (12–15 overall, 4–8 Ivy) split a pair of games at home this weekend, losing to Harvard (15–12, 10–2), 72–66, in overtime on Saturday before defeating Dartmouth (6–19, 2–10), 64-47.
Here are some takeaways from the weekend.
Our long basketball nightmare is over
Princeton’s Saturday win snapped a seven-game losing skid that spanned more than three weeks. The Tigers took an early lead Saturday and never allowed Dartmouth back into the game. Senior guard Amir Bell led Princeton in scoring in his final game at Jadwin Gymnasium with 17 points. With Dartmouth scoring just 14 points in the first half and 47 in total, Saturday’s game represented a significant defensive performance for a Princeton squad that has struggled at that end throughout the year.
Against Harvard Friday night, Princeton led for most of the game, even taking a 41–31 advantage at one point in the second half. Harvard crawled back to tie the game in regulation, before dominating the overtime period to secure a 72–66 win. Friday’s loss was the third time during its seven-game losing streak in which Princeton blew a second-half lead before falling in overtime. Princeton led 75–68 late in the second half against Brown before losing 102–100 in overtime and 65–43 with 11 minutes left against Cornell before losing 107–101 in triple-overtime. Against Harvard, Princeton also struggled at the free throw line — making just 9 of 17, including four critical missed free throws in over — and on the boards, getting out-rebounded 38–24. Free-throw shooting and rebounding have been weaknesses for the Tigers throughout the season. They rank near the bottom of the Ivy League in both.
Saturday’s game against Harvard was special for Amir Bell in more ways than one. Bell was honored before the game, led the team to a win against Dartmouth, and scored his 1,000th point as a Princeton Tiger.
“It’s pretty special to be in front of your home fans, a lot of my family and friends are here,” Bell said in a post-game interview. “More importantly, we got a win for the seniors.”
Seniors Aaron Young, Mike LeBlanc, and Alec Brennan were also honored before the game.
Down, but not out
With two games remaining in the season, Princeton is tied for sixth at 4–8, one game behind both Columbia and Cornell at 5–7 for the coveted fourth place finish and final spot in the Ivy League Tournament. The Tigers will need to win out and get some help if they want to sneak into the tournament. After an Ivy League football season in which a convoluted set of outcomes in the final two weeks could have led to a seven-way tie for first place, Princeton fans will be used to pondering potentially bizarre outcomes to a season.
“Nobody’s crying for us,” head coach Mitch Henderson ’98 said, after Friday’s loss to Harvard. Given that Princeton dominated the Ivies last year, going 14–0 in conference play, it seems unlikely that Princeton will receive any pity from its Ivy League foes for this year’s struggles.
Princeton will conclude its season this weekend with road games against Brown and Yale on Friday and Saturday, respectively.