This men’s basketball team is on a mission.
Putting their 11-game winning streak to the test this weekend, the Princeton Tigers (17-6 overall, 10-0 Ivy League) remained perfect in their most critical portion of the season. In a road trip through New England, they downed the Yale Bulldogs and Brown Bears to clinch a spot in the Ivy League postseason tournament.
Friday’s matchup looked sure to be a heavyweight matchup, as the red-hot Tigers took on a Bulldogs team (14-9, 6-4) standing at third in the Ancient Eight, and were the representatives of the Ivy League to March Madness in 2016. Indeed, these two had gone toe-to-toe when they last met in January, when the Tigers broke away only in the last four minutes of the competition en route to a 66-58 win.
This contest, however, would provide no such thrills. From the 12:43 mark in the first half onwards, the Tigers would not relinquish the lead. The offense was operating at all cylinders, as the Tigers shot better than 60 percent from the field through the first half, while holding the Bulldogs to just 41 percent. The Orange and Black would exit the first half with a 38-29 lead.
In the final 20 minutes, while the Bulldogs would hang around in the early stages of the half, getting the lead to as low as 5, the Tigers ultimately asserted their dominance as they pushed the lead into double digits around the 15-minute mark. They kept up their continued strong shooting performance from the field, while the Bulldogs struggled to find the mark — an unfortunate surprise for the team that ranks second best in the Ivy League in points scored at just above 73 points per game. The Bulldogs would leave their home floor highly disappointed, with a 71-52 victory going to the Tigers.
In the game, sophomore guard Devin Cannady and sophomore guard Myles Stephens were absolutely lights out. Cannady, averaging 13.4 points a game, put up a career high 29 points against Yale, as he would go a scorching 7-8 from downtown on the game. Of these, 6-7 came in the first half. For comparison, the Bulldogs as a team put in five three-pointers on the game. Stephens, while not as prolific from behind the arc as his teammate, would still put up an efficient 9-16 shooting performance on the day, en route to 20 points — a career high for him as well.
From this, the Tigers would come into Providence with momentum on their side. The Bears (11-15, 2-8), while struggling in the Ivy League standings, have the highest-scoring offense in the league at 75.8 points per game. The Tigers, in turn, have posted the league’s most suffocating defense, allowing their opponents just 62.5 points per game. Indeed, that was on full display as the Tigers throttled the Bears in first half, holding their Providence foes to just 6-19 (31.6 percent) shooting from the field, and just 17 points overall. The Tigers’ offensive groove from the previous day seemed to roll into this game as well — they shot 54.2 percent from the field, and 7-12 from behind the arc, to the tune of 33 points in the first half.
After a tough outing in the first 20 minutes, the Bears found themselves unable to make traction to put a dent in the lead. Indeed, the lead would balloon to as high as 21 in the second half, as the Bears found themselves on the wrong end of a 66-51 score once all was said and done.
While Cannady and Stephens had relatively quiet games, the Tigers found support from senior guard Steven Cook and junior guard Amir Bell, who combined for 30 points and 7-11 shooting from deep.
With this pair of strong victories in hand, only four games remain in the Tigers’ regular season. With a spot in the postseason tournament clinched, they look to solidify their place in the league this weekend as they host second place Harvard and eighth place Dartmouth this weekend at Jadwin.