In front of a raucous Jadwin crowd, with its season on the line, men’s basketball came up short once again.
Princeton fell to Harvard 72–66 in overtime, the team’s seventh consecutive loss in Ivy League play. Despite leading for most of the game, Princeton was unable to put the Crimson away, as Harvard tied the score near the end of regulation and dominated the overtime period.
“I’m happy with the effort, not happy with the result,” said head coach Mitch Henderson ’98. “We’ve got to figure out ways to win.”
With the loss, Princeton’s Ivy League record drops to 3–8. Stuck at seventh place in the Ivy League standings, Princeton’s hopes for a top-four Ivy League finish and a conference tournament bid have grown increasingly slim.
Even in defeat, junior guard Myles Stephens put up an effort that was nothing short of heroic. Stephens scored a career-high 33 points against the Ivy League’s best defense and was stellar on the other end of the court as well, with two blocks and a steal. He shouldered much of the load on his own; no other Princeton player scored more than eight points.
Harvard scored the first basket of the game and did not hold another lead until the OT. In between, Princeton controlled the game, even taking a 41–31 lead early in the second half. However, the Tigers could not find the critical basket or defensive stop needed to secure a win against a talented and unrelenting Harvard team.
“We knew they weren’t going to go away, we knew they were going to make some big shots, and they did,” Stephens said.
The Tigers forced a shot clock violation on Harvard’s last possession to keep the score tied at 60 and send the game into OT. In the overtime period, the Tigers were plagued by missed free throws, with sophomore center Richmond Aririguzoh and freshman forward Sebastian Much each missing a pair. Chris Lewis scored for the Crimson on its opening possession, and Harvard never looked back en route to its eventual 72–66 victory.
“Free throws hurt us down the stretch,” conceded Henderson.
Harvard was led offensively by Justin Bassey, who scored 18. Danilo Djuricic added 12 points off the bench, including a pair of timely three-pointers. Harvard had 25 bench points in total, compared to just 12 for Princeton.
“The difference for our ballclub has always been our bench and our balance,” said Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker. “That was one of the reasons that we came out with a victory tonight.”
Princeton will play its final home game of the season at 6 p.m. Saturday night against Dartmouth and honor its seniors before the game. The Tigers have just three games remaining to end this nightmarish skid and finish the season on a positive note.
“The expectation from the staff, the program, [and] our alums, is that this is unacceptable. We’ll press on, work harder, and push through it,” said Henderson. “Nobody’s feeling sorry for Princeton.”