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M. hoops reaches No. 9 after pair of blowout victories

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. – The juggernaut that is the men's basketball team rolled into Dartmouth and Harvard this weekend. To be more precise, they rolled over Dartmouth and Harvard.

No. 11 Princeton (18-1 overall, 6-0 Ivy League) put on a basketball clinic for the visiting fans in beating the two home teams by a combined 60 points. The Tigers defeated Dartmouth, 71-39, and Harvard, 76-48.


Friday in Hanover, N.H., the Tigers shot 69.2 percent from the field in the first half and destroyed the Big Green. Dartmouth looked nothing short of confused from the outset.


This included the team introductions. The Dartmouth public address announcer mistakenly introduced Princeton head coach Bill Carmody as Bill Guthridge, the North Carolina head coach. Dartmouth may as well have been playing UNC, as it was unable to handle Princeton on either end of the court, and looked thoroughly overmatched.

"I think the score was very indicative of how the game was played," Dartmouth head coach Dave Faucher said. "Princeton dominated the game with its offense and they also dominated with its defense. We generated no momentum on either end of the court."

To get some sense of how out of hand the game got, if the Tigers had come out in the second half and not scored another point, they still would have won 43-39.

Even more telling was that the five Tigers on the court at the end of the first half were freshman guard C.J. Chapman, sophomore guard Phil Belin, sophomore center-forward Nate Walton and senior forwards Darren Hite and Sean Gregory. It marked the first time all season that Princeton had five reserves on the court at the same time in the first half of a game.


The Tigers played as flawless in the first half as they have played all season. Three of the five starters – junior guard Brian Earl, senior forward James Mastaglio and senior center Steve Goodrich – made every shot they attempted from the field. Dartmouth gave up a number of open layups, with Goodrich the main beneficiary.


"At halftime I was like, 'What can we do? What are we doing wrong?' " senior guard Mitch Henderson said. Henderson paused to answer his own question, smiled and replied, "nothing."

Especially impressive was the Tiger defense. Earl and Henderson both played outstanding on the defensive end, holding their men scoreless. Henderson was particularly effective against Dartmouth guard P.J. Halas, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Week. Henderson toyed with Halas throughout the game and made him look like a bad intramural player. Earl was equally impressive in shutting down the Big Green's Greg Buth.

Give credit

"You can't underestimate how well we played on defense," Earl said. "It kind of picks us up on the offense end. We're shutting them down and we can break the game open."

Saturday the Tigers visited Cambridge, Mass., to take on Harvard. The Crimson were able to do slightly better against Princeton than Dartmouth did. In losing 76-48 to the Tigers, the Crimson lost by 4 fewer points than the Big Green did the night before. They were dismantled by the Tigers nonetheless.

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Princeton once again shot extremely well from the field. The Tigers shot 76.2 percent from the field in the first half and 68.2 percent overall. Junior forward Gabe Lewullis led the Tigers with 24 points, tying a career high. Goodrich added 18 in the blowout.

Henderson once again played outstanding defense, holding Harvard's Tim Hill to just two first-half points. Hill finished with 11, but the majority of his points came during garbage time and were inconsequential.

"Hill is one of the top players in the league," Carmody said. "I thought Mitch did a really nice job on him."

New center

The two easy games allowed Carmody to give Walton significant minutes at the center position. The team learned late Thursday afternoon that sophomore forward Mason Rocca, Goodrich's primary backup, had broken his wrist and may be lost for the remainder of the season. Rocca injured the wrist earlier in the week in practice and precautionary x-rays revealed the break. Rocca will meet with doctors on Monday to discuss his options for the rest of the season.

Walton played center in high school, but has been used exclusively at forward during his time with the Tigers. He will have to adjust to playing with his back to the basket, rather than facing the basket, as he did from the forward spot.


"Its kind of tough playing with my back to the basket all of a sudden," Walton said. "Its been two years since I did that. At the same time, its still basketball. I think I'll be able to make that adjustment."

Princeton once again played before two sellout crowds – 2,198 spectators packed Lavietes Pavilion in Cambridge to see the Tigers, while Princeton played before 2,100 at Leede Arena in Hanover Friday.

If they came with any hope of seeing their local team upset the Tigers, they went home sorely disappointed. If, on the other hand, they came to see the No. 11 team in the country definitively prove why it is the No. 11 team in the country, they got more than their money's worth.