Men’s basketball (12–8, 4–3 Ivy) was defeated at home last night by Harvard (12–8, 5–2) 78–69. A close game ended in disappointment after the Tigers lost the lead with seven minutes to go in the second half. Princeton was first place in the Ivy League going into last weekend, but these past three games have seen them slide to fourth place in the conference.
Harvard opened scoring with a shot from Justin Bassey in the paint. Princeton responded with a strong three-pointer from sophomore forward Jerome Desrosiers, who brought the Tigers into the lead at 3–2. From there, the first half remained competitive. The lead changed seven times with both teams going on runs. Princeton stayed ahead from 15:26 to 10:07; their largest lead of seven points came by way of a layup from junior center Richmond Aririguzoh. Princeton’s last lead in the first half came from an Aririguzoh dunk with over seven minutes remaining, making the crowd go wild and putting the score at 23–21. Harvard then pulled ahead with an eight-point run, bringing the score to 29–23 with a little less than three minutes to go in the half. Despite three-pointers from freshman guard Jaelin Llewellyn and sophomore forward Sebastian Much, and a layup from senior guard and captain Myles Stephens, Harvard maintained their lead and the first half finished 33-31.
Llewellyn opened up the second half with a jumper, tying the game 33–33 at 19:34. Harvard pulled ahead a minute later with a basket from Chris Lewis. The Crimson maintained their lead until the 13:38 when Sebastian Much, under pressure, knocked in a solid layup and brought the score to 47–46 in the Tigers’ favor. The Tigers maintained their lead for the next seven minutes, pulling six points ahead of Harvard twice — once at 8:33 and once at 7:53 — both times a result of layups from Aririguzoh. His second layup with 7:54 remaining was the last time the Tigers would be in the lead with a score of 56–50. Despite Aririguzoh’s form, Harvard was able to catch up with a three-pointer from Noah Kirkwood with 6:52 to go in the game, bringing the score to 57–56 in the Crimson’s favor. Princeton’s freshman guard Max Johns tied the game 59–59 with a little less than six minutes to go after a good three, but afterward the Crimson took off. At the four-minute mark Harvard was 10 points ahead with a score of 70–60. Princeton was never able to mount a comeback challenge and the game closed out 78–69.
Head coach Mitch Henderson put blame for Friday’s loss on the team’s defense.
“We’ve been struggling a little bit offensively, but I thought our defense really hurt us tonight,” he said at the post-game press conference. Still, he noted that offense had missed opportunities as well. “We had an opportunity to pull away ... we had three or four empty possessions in a row.”
The Tigers will take on Dartmouth (11–12, 2–5) Saturday evening at 7 p.m. In order to succeed in that game, the team needs to improve.
“We’ve got to keep growing. We’ve got to play with our backs up against the wall tomorrow night,” the coach said. “Our defense has got to carry us — that’s where this has got to go.”