An unusual weekend of Ivy League play left Princeton men’s basketball in the same place they started: tied with Yale atop the Ivy League standings with a Valentine’s Day date with the Bulldogs looming.
After a blizzard in Ithaca forced the Tigers to postpone their New York back-to-back by one day the team split the games, falling to Cornell 73–62 on Saturday before rebounding with a 81–74 win over Columbia.
Despite losing for the first time in the Ivy League, Princeton remained tied for first in the Ancient Eight after Yale fell to Harvard.
Princeton entered Saturday afternoon’s game against Cornell as a favorite against a team that had only earned one Ivy League win. But the Tigers struggled on the offensive end from the beginning of the game. The Big Red started on a 14–4 run, and Princeton managed just nine points in the first ten minutes of the first half.
The Tigers finished the first half with nine turnovers and just a 36.4 shooting percentage, as the Big Red took a 35–22 lead into halftime.
Things didn’t get much better for Princeton in the second half, as Cornell extended its lead to as many as 18 points and held a commanding 61–47 lead with 4:37 remaining. Defensive pressure, along with a string of Cornell turnovers and missed shots, helped Princeton go on a quick 8–0 run to cut the deficit to six with two minutes remaining, but the Big Red stabilized to hold onto the lead and run out the clock.
Cornell’s Jimmy Boeheim led the game in scoring with 24 points, and Josh Warren added 18. No Princeton player scored more than 13 points.
The Tigers managed to solve their offensive issues relatively quickly, scoring 81 points and shooting 54.7 percent from the field to take down Columbia.
Princeton’s scoring was distributed throughout the lineup, with five players scoring double-digit points. Sophomore guard Jaelin Llewellyn had 19 points and junior guard Ryan Schwieger had 18, followed by senior center Richmond Aririguzoh with 16, sophomore forward Drew Friberg with 11, and junior forward Jerome Desrosiers with 10.
The Tigers also had to survive a heroic effort from Columbia guard Mike Smith, who played all 40 minutes and scored 30 points on 14–25 shooting.
The teams were evenly matched for most of the first half, but Princeton went on an 8–0 run in the final 2:43 to take a 39–31 lead into halftime.
Princeton never trailed in the second half, but a string of points by Smith brought Columbia within four points with seven minutes remaining. The Tigers managed to avoid turnovers and sunk free throws to secure the 81–74 win.
The Tigers will be back in action next weekend at Jadwin Gym against Yale and Brown, as they look to solidify their position in the top half of the Ivy League standings midway through the conference schedule.