For the first 38 minutes of Friday’s game against Brown (19–10, 7–6 Ivy), Princeton men’s basketball (16–10, 8–5) looked nothing like the team that started Ivy play 8–3. By the time the Tigers figured things out, it was too late.
Despite a 13–2 run in the game’s final minutes to cut a large Brown lead to two, the Tigers found themselves doomed by their 25 turnovers. They lost 67–63 at home in the regular season’s penultimate game.
“25 turnovers is horrific,” said head coach Mitch Henderson ’98. “That’s toughness, that’s taking care of the ball. We’ve got to value the ball a lot more. Credit to Brown, but you can’t have more than 15 turnovers in any college basketball game.”
Princeton played without sophomore guard Ryan Schwieger, the breakout offensive star, who missed the game with a concussion. Henderson said the injury was day-to-day, but that Schwieger won’t play tomorrow against Yale.
His services were sorely missed. Princeton got off to another slow start offensively, scoring under 30 points for the third consecutive game. With three first-years playing major minutes, the Tigers turned the ball over 16 times in the first half, and Brown took a 31–23 lead into halftime.
Princeton threw out some gimmicks in the second half, including, briefly, a one-three-one zone, but couldn’t seem to seriously cut into the Brown deficit. Finally, trailing 60–47 with just over two minutes to play, something clicked.
First-year guard Jaelin Llewellyn nailed a pair of threes, and junior guard Jose Morales hit a pair of free throws and another three as Brown turned the ball over and, in the meantime, missed free throws. Princeton narrowed Brown’s lead to 62–60 with 46 seconds left, but Brown’s Tamenang Choh scored on a breakaway layup, and the Bears secured the win.
“We turned them over a little bit, they were careless, and then these guys made some threes,” Henderson said. “It’s really hard to come back and win.”
Princeton was led in scoring by junior center Richmond Aririguzoh, who managed 20 points and 11 rebounds despite dealing with foul trouble and double-teams. Senior guard Myles Stephens and Llewellyn each had 11.
Brown’s star, Desmond Cambridge, shot just 4–16 from the field and 1–7 from three. Instead, the Bears were led in scoring by an unlikely figure, guard Brandon Anderson. Anderson came off the bench to torch the Princeton defense, scoring 21 points on 8–13 shooting. Brown’s athletic defense, anchored by Choh and Obi Okolie, gave Princeton fits on the perimeter.
The story, however, was the turnovers. They were committed by first-years and veterans, front-court players and back-court players, starters and bench players. Aririguzoh and Stephens both had six. First-year guard Ethan Wright had four. Llewellyn, Morales, and first-year guard Max Johns each had two. Junior forward Vittorio Reynoso-Avila, sophomore forward Elijah Barnes, and senior forward Noah Bramlage each had one. That adds up to 25. Which, as Princeton found out, is too many to win an Ivy League game — even when the opponent commits 18 itself.
“They were throwing hedges and stuff, but we were preparing for that all week,” said Llewellyn. “We just weren’t making the aggressive plays that we needed to.”
Princeton will hope to get on track tomorrow night in its regular season finale against Yale. The team will celebrate Senior Night before the game. With a win, the Tigers would clinch the three-seed in the Ivy League tournament next weekend.
“We’ve got to [find out], how can we play the way we played the last four minutes all the time,“ said Henderson. “It’s easy to play like that when you’re down thirteen. How can we get more aggressive offensively?”