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Men’s basketball bests Harvard 74–67 on Senior Night behind Llewellyn’s 29 points

<h5>The Tigers honored their six seniors before the game on Friday night.</h5>
<h6>Courtesy of @PrincetonMBB/Twitter.</h6>
The Tigers honored their six seniors before the game on Friday night.
Courtesy of @PrincetonMBB/Twitter.

On Senior Night for the Princeton men’s basketball team, the class of 2022 parted ways with their home court of the last four years. 

They couldn’t leave Jadwin Gymnasium without one final thrilling win.

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On Friday, Feb. 25, the Tigers (20–5 overall, 10–2 Ivy League) secured a crucial win against Harvard (13–10, 5–7) by a score of 74–67, reclaiming the top seed in Ivy League standings. While it was a big win for the entire roster, the game had deeper meaning for the senior class.

Junior forward Tosan Evbuomwan, the team’s second leading scorer, spoke to The Daily Princetonian about his relationship with the senior class.

“I’m super close with the seniors,” Evbuomwan said. “They set a really great example of how to conduct yourself. They’re obviously all experienced, so they can always help you on the court as well. We’re really grateful to have them as our leaders.”

The last thing any squad wants is a loss handed to them by the away team on Senior Night, but securing the win was not an easy task against a rival school like Harvard. 

“They’re a tough team,” Evbuomwan said. “We knew we would have to play well.”

The entire game was a back-and-forth battle. Going into halftime, Harvard held a 38–36 lead over the Tigers, due in large part to a big offensive night from Crimson forward Kale Catchings. He ended the night with 19 points on an efficient 8-for-11 shooting from the field.

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It was a tale of two halves for the Crimson, however, who could not seem to find the same rhythm in the second half. Their field goal percentage dropped from 59 percent in the first half to a meager 38 percent following the break. Evbuomwan attributed this drop-off to Princeton’s attention to detail on the defensive end.

“Something that’s come to life for us in our past few games has been our defense. It’s been a continued focus for us all season,” Evbuomwan said. “The first half wasn’t good enough. The offense was fine, but we couldn’t string together the stops we needed. Then, in the second half, we did a much better job cleaning everything up.”

Evbuomwan’s strength was on full display in the second half, including an impressive play where he exhibited a forceful drop step over his left shoulder, opening up the lane for a powerful one-hand slam. He ended with a well-rounded seven points, five assists, four rebounds, and two steals.

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With just seven minutes remaining in the game, and Princeton only ahead 62–60, the seniors stepped up to the plate. Senior guard Jaelin Llewellyn put up a season-high 29 points, alongside six rebounds and three assists to lead the charge. Senior guard Ethan Wright added 15 points and five rebounds, and senior forward Drew Friberg hit four three-pointers, shooting 50 percent from deep.

For Princeton, reclaiming the top of the standings is a testament to their resilience. Their two-game losing streak at the end of January pushed the Tigers down in the standings, but their perseverance has brought them back to the top.

“Even looking back towards the beginning of the season, when we would go down at halftime, we never quit,” Evbuomwan said. “We would come back and win games. I’m very proud of the way that we have bounced back after the bumps in the road.”

The Tigers have already clinched a spot in the Ivy League tournament on March 11–13 in Boston. Like every matchup, these next few games are important, but the team still has their eyes on just one thing. 

“Our goals have never changed,” Evbuomwan said. “It’s always been to win a championship.”

Matt Drapkin is a staff writer for the ‘Prince’ sports section. He can be reached at mattdrapkin@princeton.edu or on Twitter at @mattdrapkin.

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