The men’s basketball team defeated the Drexel Dragons (4–4) 81–79 on Saturday afternoon in an overtime thriller that had fans on the edge of their seats until the very end.
With the win against Drexel, and an 82–69 win against the Bucknell Bison on Tuesday, the Tigers have improved to 7–3 on the season.
Princeton and Drexel came out with high energy in the first half of Saturday’s game, with the Tigers trailing 37–41 at halftime. After the break, the game stayed close with both teams trading baskets.
With less than a minute remaining in regulation, the Tigers trailed Drexel by three with the Dragons at the free-throw line, and it looked like the game was over. However, Drexel proceeded to miss the front end of a 1-and-1, keeping the lead at 3 and giving the Tigers life.
With 27 seconds left in regulation, junior guard Ryan Langborg knotted the score at 71–71 with a three-pointer. The Dragons failed to respond, and the game headed to overtime.
“Coach Henderson drew up the play to get me the three at the end of regulation, which my teammates executed to perfection, and allowed me the chance to hit the shot,” Langborg, who finished the game with 17 points, explained.
In overtime, Jadwin Gymnasium grew electric as both teams juggled the lead. With 3.4 seconds left, junior forward Tosan Evbuomwan scored the game-winning layup, propelling the Tigers to victory, 81–79. Evbuomwan ended with a game-high 27 points, his highest-scoring game during his Princeton career.
“I think we all knew that when we sent the game to overtime that it was ours for the taking and Tosan led us to the win down the stretch,” Langborg said.
The overtime victory showcased the resilience of the Princeton team. Freshman team manager Seth Martin has seen the team’s progression throughout the course of the season.
“You can tell that the energy at practice has gone up in recent weeks, from both the coaches and the players,” Martin said. “Aside from the captains, guys like [sophomore guard] Matt Allocco and [senior guard] Charlie Bagin have had a huge role with keeping the intensity up during practice.”
The Tigers defeated the Bison several days later in a blowout victory. Senior forward Drew Friberg scored the game’s opening bucket with a three-point shot and the team did not look back — maintaining the lead throughout the 40-minute contest.
Senior guard Jaelin Llewellyn led the team with 20 points against Bucknell, with Evbuomwan, Langborg, and Friberg each also cracking double digits.
These wins continue a strong start to Princeton’s season. The Tigers have fared well against several other strong opponents, defeating two Power Five conference foes — South Carolina and Oregon State — last month.
The Tigers say chemistry has been a big part of their success so far this season.
“We have been stressing togetherness on the court and being able to communicate constructively amongst ourselves,” Langborg said.
“The overall confidence and chemistry between the group has increased so much since the season started,” Martin added. “I feel like those two wins against Power Five schools have played a huge part in the growth of the team.”
Despite a few tough losses, the team is optimistic about what is to come.
“I truly believe that the team will go very far in competing for another Ivy League championship this March,” Martin said.
Princeton will face several more opponents in the coming days. They will take on the Lafayette Leopards (2–6) in Easton, PA on Saturday and face the University of Maryland, Baltimore County Retrievers (5–3) at home on Monday.
Le’Naya Wilkerson is a contributor to the ‘Prince’ Sports section. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Managing Editor Zachary Shevin contributed reporting.