If there were any questions about whether or not the young men's basketball team would rebound from the loss to Penn, they were answered this weekend.
After shooting a meager 29 percent against the Quakers Tuesday, Princeton lit up Cornell and Columbia with better than 50 percent shooting in both games. The Tigers (15-9 overall, 7-2 Ivy League) cruised to an 81-52 victory over the Lions and a 79-43 win over the Big Red.
"I was about as happy as I could be with the weekend," head coach Bill Carmody said. "I liked watching them play in these games. We rebounded pretty well from the loss on Tuesday."
Freshman guard Spencer Gloger was the most improved Tiger. After taking only three shots and scoring no points against Penn Tuesday, Gloger scored 43 on the weekend.
"I'm definitely feeling better and I started being more aggressive on the offensive end," Gloger said. "On defense my confidence has picked up. After guarding Jordan, I think I can guard anyone."
On Friday, the freshman was big on the offensive end, scoring 22 points, but he also had five steals and helped harass Columbia into 17 turnovers.
Princeton's press was especially effective against a Lion team that was without the services of starting point guard Victor Munoz and backup Derrick Mayo. Craig Austin, who scored 24 points in the teams' first meeting, had 18 points for Columbia (10-13, 4-6) but got little help from his teammates.
On offense, the Tigers looked like the Princeton teams of old. Twenty-three of the Tigers' 25 field goals came off assists. Sophomore guard Ahmed El-Nokali led the way with five, and junior forward Nate Walton added four.
Saturday, the Tigers jumped all over Cornell (8-15, 1-9), which did not get its first field goal until nearly six minutes into the game. That basket began a 10-3 Big Red run that made the score 17-13.
As was the case the night before, the Tigers' shooting, especially that of Gloger, kept the game out of reach. He ended Cornell's run with two straight three-pointers, and the final outcome was never in doubt.
Defensively, Princeton was solid for the second straight night as well. The Tigers limited the Big Red to 28-percent shooting and caused 19 turnovers.
"Princeton got us out of our rhythm right at the beginning of the game, and we couldn't get it back," Cornell head coach Scott Thompson said. "The way Princeton plays, they take a lot of people out of their rhythm. We tried to fight back and didn't get close to where we wanted to be."
The Big Red seemed to have sophomore center Chris Young out of his rhythm early in the game, limiting him to only two shots and no points. But with Walton assisting, Young established himself in the second half. Four of Walton's six assists were to Young, who finished the game with 10 points.
"We just started throwing the ball to him," Carmody said. "I told Chris after the game to take care of Nate tonight and buy him something."
Senior forward Mason Rocca, who played 35 minutes and scored 16 points against Penn, played only 15 minutes this weekend, scoring four points.
Late in the Cornell game, Princeton's reserves took over and finished the game with an 11-0 run. The spurt was highlighted by sophomore guard Nick Bernthal's three-pointer and sophomore guard Russell Ellis' layup under one block attempt and around another.