The Princeton Tigers once again showed why they are undefeated in the Ivy League. With its win over Harvard last night, Princeton (20-3,10-0 Ivy) notched its 20th victory of the season. The Tigers shot 47 percent from the field, 85 percent from the line and 35 percent from behind the arc. However, this is only half the story.
Last night, the Crimson (14-9, 7-4 Ivy) showed why it is a legitimate contender in the Ivy League. The team shot 44 percent from the field, 77 percent from the free throw line and 35 percent from three-point land. It even out rebounded Princeton 29 to 23 and played a stifling defense.
Harvard hustled and fought for every loose ball and every missed shot. At the end of the game, however, the scoreboard read 66 visitors, 61 Harvard.
Harvard did have a chance to beat Princeton last night.
The game started off slowly with both teams trading buckets till the score was tied 8-8 with 12:00 left in the first. By the end of the half Princeton had opened up a six point lead, going into the locker room up 29-23.
After the half, Princeton came out smoking. They moved the ball around the key effortlessly and converted on their patented back door plays flawlessly. With 16:24 left, Harvard needed to call a 20-second time-out to stop the Princeton offensive machine. The half-time lead of six had expanded to a seemingly insurmountable 12 points in less than four minutes. Yet there was still more to come from the Tigers.
Two Tiger threes increased the lead to 17 points.
But once again, showing their determination and inner fortitude, Harvard battled back. After being beaten by Princeton's well honed, quick ball-moving offense, Harvard head coach Frank Sullivan decided to throw something different at the Tigers. He changed Harvard's man to man defense to a swarming fast pace trapping defense. And it worked.
Led by Chris Grancio's career high of 25 points and stifling defense, the Crimson managed to stay in the game. Harvard closed the gap to seven after Grancio hit a three with 2:54 to go and it seemed poised for an upset.
Princeton inbounded the ball, dribbled it up the court and then Mitch Henderson, Princeton's starting shooting guard, turned it over as junior Michael Scott stole the ball.
Hill managed to get to the line on the next play. He missed his first shot but swished the second, cutting the lead to six, 54-60.
With only a minute left to play and trailing by six, a steal put the ball in sophomore point guard Tim Hill's hands. Hill was fouled by Sydney Johnson driving to the lane. Hill, who is averaging over 80 percent from the free-throw line this season, hit only one of his two free throws and Harvard was down five.
But as soon as it looked like Harvard might have a chance for a comeback, Princeton's offense took charge as Tiger Mitch Henderson drove the ball down the lane and layed it up for an easy two.
The Crimson could not answer. With 29 seconds left senior David Demian fouled Brian Earl (who led the Tigers with 16), and Earl converted on both ends of his one and one with 29 seconds left. After Earl's two free throws, the game was out of reach for the Crimson.
Harvard fought anyway and two three point shoots by Scott helped it finish the game down only five, 66-61.
Princeton's coach Bill Carmody commented on Harvard's unwillingness to throw in the towel.
"Harvard kept coming and coming. . . they're a good team," Carmody said.
PRINCETON, 66-61 at Lavietes Pavilion Princeton 29 37 - 66 Harvard 23 38 - 61
HARVARD: Hill 3-7 2-4 8; Demian 2-7 0-0 4; Scott 2-6 1-2 7; Showden 3-6 1-2 7; Grancio 8-14 6-6 25; Weaver 1-3 6-6 9; Bwing 0-0 1-2 1; 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS 19-43 17-22 61.
PRINCETON: Johnson 4-10 0-0 10; Earl 4-8 4-4 16; Henderson 5-10 2-3 12; Lewullis 2-9 2-2 8; Goodrich 6-9 1-1 14; Rosenfeld 0-0 1-2 1; Mastaglio 1-2 1-1 3; Osier 1-1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 23-49 11-13 66.