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Jose Morales dribbles in the first half of Princeton's win over Dartmouth

By Jack Graham

In this year’s Ivy League, there are no easy wins. Top through bottom, every team is capable of putting up a good fight. 

That said, having dropped three games in a row, Princeton (13–8, 5–3 Ivy League) needed to find a way to win one. They did just that Saturday night. They weren’t perfect, but the Tigers narrowly edged out a tough Dartmouth (11–13, 2–6) squad 69–68.

“That’s a really good win, there’s no way around it,” said head coach Mitch Henderson ’98. “We weren’t great, but after last night, I’m so happy for us.”

“My freshman year I feel like there was some separation between the top and bottom teams,” added senior guard Myles Stephens. “This year every game is a fight. Everyone is so good, and we know each other so well. It really just comes down to details and who wants it more.” 

To earn the win, Princeton had to survive a scoring outburst from one of the best three-point shooters in college basketball, Brendan Barry. Barry, who entered the game shooting 47 percent on the year beyond the arc, scored 26 points and made 4–7 from three. 15 of his points and three of his three-pointers came in the second half. 

With less than 10 seconds to play and Dartmouth trailing by three, Barry managed to work his way open behind the line for a good look to tie the game. Somehow, he missed. Stephens may have tipped the shot, or Princeton may have just gotten lucky, but the ball caromed off the rim. Dartmouth forward Chris Knight got the offensive rebound and putback, but Princeton now led by one with just three seconds to play and managed to run out the clock.

“If [Barry] was going to take a three, it was going in. Everyone knew it,” Henderson said of the game’s final play. “I think Myles got just a little bit of the ball, so that was a huge play.” 

Down the stretch, Princeton received several key buckets from first-year point guard Jaelin Llewellyn. Llewellyn, who has struggled offensively in Ivy League play but scored 14 Saturday night, found success beating his man off the dribble and finishing at the rim. He scored seven of Princeton’s last 14 points, including a crowd-energizing and-one layup to cut Dartmouth’s lead from four to one with under four minutes to play. Llewellyn also had the responsibility of trying to contain Barry for most of the night. 

“I was most happy with Jaelin,” said Henderson. “I called a play for [junior center Richmond Aririguzoh] and [Llewellyn] gave me a look. That’s what we’ve been waiting for. He wanted the ball, and I love that. Tonight, you saw what we know from him.” 

Princeton started the game aggressively on offense, as drives to the basket led to easy layups, and the Tigers took an early 11–2 lead. However, Princeton found itself betrayed by its own arena when a malfunctioning shot clock above one basket forced a 14-minute real time delay. That delay seemed to kill Princeton’s momentum, as Dartmouth launched an 11–2 run of its own to tie the game. 

From there, neither team managed to take more than a five-point lead. The lead changed hands 12 times, including several in the last ten minutes.

The game featured a matchup between two of the premier big men in the Ivy League, Princeton’s Richmond Aririguzoh and Dartmouth’s Chris Knight. Knight averages 16 points per game and was coming off a 25-point outing Friday night at Penn, while Aririguzoh leads the Ivy League in field goal percentage in conference play.

As has often been the case this season, Aririguzoh got the better of his counterpart. He led Princeton in scoring with 18 points on 7–9 shooting while Knight tallied 12 points on 5–14 shooting. 

“Early in the year it was a little bit easier for me since I was just getting to my post game,” said Aririguzoh about his emergence in Ivy League play. “Now I feel like because I’m scouted I’ve just got to be a little more patient.” 

Princeton benefited from a balanced scoring attack, with four players scoring in the double digits. Stephens had 17 and senior guard Devin Cannady had 10 to go with Aririguzoh’s 18 and Llewellyn’s 14. 

Things won’t get much softer next weekend, as Cornell (13–11, 5–3) comes to Jadwin Friday in a clash of teams tied for third in the Ivy standings.

Henderson’s thoughts on the Ivy League’s newfound parity?

“It’s awful. And it’s so fun at the same time.” 

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