Ryan Schwieger scores career-high 23 as men's basketball defeats Cornell| Feb 23, 2019
If you had claimed before Friday night’s game that Princeton (14–8, 6–3 Ivy) would beat Cornell (13–12, 5–4) despite senior guard Myles Stephens scoring four points, junior center Richmond Aririguzoh scoring seven, and senior guard Devin Cannady not playing, nobody would have believed you.
But that’s exactly what happened.
It was instead the Tiger underclassmen who led the way offensively in Princeton’s 68–59 win at Jadwin. First-years and sophomores scored 57 of Princeton’s 68, and the Tigers held off a late Cornell rally to move into a tie for second in the Ivy League.
The biggest performance of the night came from sophomore guard Ryan Schwieger, who scored a career-high 23 points on 8–13 shooting starting in place of Cannady, who missed the game due to an undisclosed personal matter.
“Like a lot of really good guards we’ve had [Schwieger] put us on his back, put their players on his back, and got easy buckets for us,” said head coach Mitch Henderson ’98.
Princeton also received valuable contributions from first-years Jaelin Llewellyn and Ethan Wright, who sparked the Tiger offense in the first half. Llewellyn drilled a pair of threes to give Princeton an early 11–5 lead before going to the bench with two fouls at the 12-minute mark. Wright entered the game and, playing his first meaningful minutes against an Ivy opponent, promptly hit a three and finished a dunk in transition to extend Princeton’s lead to 21–11.
Despite a backcourt turnover leading to a Cornell basket as time expired, Princeton entered halftime with a 36–30 lead.
The Tigers started the second half hot offensively, scoring 18 points in just over six minutes to take a 54–36 lead. Cornell wasn’t finished yet though. The Big Red launched a 14–0 run of their own to cut the Princeton lead to four.
Schwieger took over from there. He hit a three-pointer from the corner to give Princeton its first points in more than five minutes. Then, he muscled his way into the paint twice for layups. Finally, he beat his man off the dribble and found an open Aririguzoh for an easy dunk, and Princeton took a 65–59 lead. With a minute left, all that remained was to make free throws and run out the clock.
“Coach tells me to be aggressive, my teammates tell me to be aggressive,” said Schwieger. “I just had that mindset going in.”
Schwieger’s minutes have been inconsistent throughout the season, particularly with Cannady in the lineup. Tonight’s outburst might have earned the normally laid-back guard a permanent spot in the rotation.
“[I’ll say], ‘Ryan, do this,‘ and he always says, ‘I got you bro’,” said Henderson. “Where I come from that’s casual, and I’m a little bit more on the intense side. But I understand him now. He was terrific tonight.”
The win also represented a bounce back defensive performance for the Tigers, who had allowed an average of 74.8 points in their past four games. Central to the effort was containing Matt Morgan, Cornell’s all-time leading scorer. Princeton did so effectively, holding him to 12 points on 5–12 shooting.
Asked how Princeton managed to keep Morgan from filling the box score both tonight and throughout his career, Henderson had a simple answer.
“Myles Stephens. He’s so good.”
Stephens’ contribution can’t be seen in his stat line. Along with Aririguzoh, he faced double teams for much of the night and only managed four points. But by locking down Morgan and anchoring Princeton’s defense, he contributed to the win as much as anyone.
“Morgan is so difficult to guard,” said Henderson. “I think he got loose twice in the first half, and [he scores] so quickly.”
Llewellyn finished the game as Princeton’s second leading scorer with 15 points. Sophomore forward Jerome Desrosiers had a double-double, recording 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Princeton returns to Jadwin tomorrow night to play Columbia (7–16, 2–7). The Lions are currently tied for last in the Ivy League but shouldn’t be taken lightly. They earned an overtime win over Penn Friday and gave Princeton’s offense fits in a 55–43 Tiger win earlier this month in New York.
If Princeton’s underclassmen continue to step up, though, the team should feel confident about its chances.