LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After an Ivy League championship and a trip to the Sweet 16, the men’s basketball team’s (23–9 overall, 10–4 Ivy League) magical post-season run has come to an end, as they fell 86–75 to the Creighton Bluejays (23–12, 14–6 Big East) on Friday night.
It had been rebounding and defense that had gotten the Tigers this deep into March, but they finally met their match in the Bluejays, who were relentless on offense all game and dominated the glass. The Tigers lost the rebound battle 37–26; this game is their first time being out-rebounded this post-season.
Creighton was also unstoppable at times on the offensive end. The Bluejays, who averaged a 46.7 percent shooting clip from the floor this season, shot 58.2 percent against the Tigers, hitting nine threes in the process.
“It was very difficult for us to figure out how to get stops,” said head coach Mitch Henderson ‘98 during the post-game press conference.
Despite the Bluejays’ hot shooting, the Tigers kept up with their pace deep into the second half. The senior duo of forward Tosan Evbuomwan and guard Ryan Langborg led the way for the Tigers and went shot-for-shot with the Big East foe. Evbuomwan stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with 24 points, nine assists, and six rebounds. Langborg finished with a career-high 26 points as well as two steals. The pair combined for 50 of the Tigers’ 75 points.
“Ryan in the last four weeks has ... been one of the best players in the tournament,” Henderson said. “His confidence level rose throughout the tournament, and so did ours.”
The Tigers entered this game hoping for a low-scoring bout, but they entered halftime down 47–43, one of the highest scoring halves they’ve played all year. It quickly became apparent in the second half, however, that the Tigers wouldn’t be able to survive a shootout with the Bluejays. The Bluejays started the half on a 9–2 run, and with 12:28 remaining in the game, their lead had grown to 16 — the largest of the game.
Despite the deficit, Langborg and Evbuomwan kept it interesting as they continued to carry the Tigers offensively. Two free-throws from Evbuomwan brought the Tigers within seven with 3:38 remaining. But the Bluejays never wavered as their lead stood at 10 with 40 seconds left, and they cruised to the win.
The loss denied Princeton its first Elite Eight appearance in modern tournament history. Nevertheless, with two wins over major-conference opponents, the Tigers believe they proved they belong on the national stage.
“I think it just shows that there's not a lot that separates us from everyone else,” Langborg said. “[If] you have a tough group that is bonded and the best of friends, [and if] you play with joy, anything can happen.”
Diego Uribe is an assistant editor for the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’
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