PRINCETON, N.J.—If it wasn’t a rivalry before, it certainly is now.
In a game with no implications for the conference tournament next weekend, but plenty of pride on the line, it came down to a single possession.
With just over five second left on the clock and the score tied at 69, Princeton guard Amir Bell drove left and threw up a layup over freshman forward Chris Lewis. The layup found the back of the net and for the second time this season the Crimson (18-8, 10-3 Ivy League) fell to Tigers (20-6, 13-0) on a last second shot.
“It was a hell of a play, I think it was Bell, who shot a lefty hook over Chris,” freshman guard Justin Bassey said. “Chris played great defense, but I think it was really good offense. We’d like to have it back, and a few plays here and there, but it was a really good play and there’s not much more we could’ve done.”
In a game that saw nine ties, six lead changes, and a margin that never went beyond nine, it was ultimately a late turnover and a missed rebound that gave Princeton possession for it’s last second win, 73-69.
With the score tied following a pair of Harvard free throws and just under a minute left on the clock, freshman guard Bryce Aiken drove inside and committed an offensive foul for what would be the Crimson’s 18th turnover.
Despite an initial miss by the Tigers’ Spencer Weisz from deep on the other end, Princeton came up with an offensive board to set up Bell for what is perhaps only another chapter in a budding Ivy League rivalry.
With the win, Princeton is officially the sole owners of the Ivy League regular season title, its first since 2011 and its first outright title since 2004. For the first time however, that distinction means less, as the Ivy League regular season winner will no longer receive the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Instead, Princeton will enter next weekend’s inaugural Ivy League tournament as the No.1 seed, needing to win two games to get to March Madness.
FROM DEEP EARLY
For a Harvard team that thrives beyond the perimeter, Friday’s matchup took it to a different level. The Crimson’s first 18 points came off threes with Harvard going 7-of-14 from deep in the first period.
In total, 21 of the Crimson’s 32 first half points came from beyond the arc with freshman forward Seth Towns pouring in 14 points and 4 rebounds over the span. He finished the game with a season high 26 points and eight rebounds on 9-of-12 shooting from the field and 4-of-6 from deep.
“If we get into a rhythm of shooting it and shooting it well then we want to stay with it,” head coach Tommy Amaker said. “But certainly we needed to get to the foul line a little bit more and needed to drive it a little bit more, but that’s easier said than done against their length on the perimeter and how sound they are defensively.”
In the second half, Harvard kept the threes coming. The Crimson would cut a nine point first half deficit in the span of a minute and on three shots from beyond the arc. In total the Crimson took 28 three pointers and connected on thirteen of them.