A night after dealing Harvard its first loss in Ivy League play, the Princeton men's basketball team kept on going Saturday night at Jadwin Gym, defeating Dartmouth 68-53.
The win gives the Tigers a 9-0 record at home, the program's best in 13 years. It also improves Princeton to 16-4 overall, the best since 1999, and 4-0 in the Ivy for the third straight year.
Ian Hummer led Princeton with 19 points, just ahead of Douglas Davis' 16 and Dan Mavraides' 14. Davis' career total now stands at 994 points, possibly making him the third straight Tiger to reach 1,000 career points against Penn if he can reach the mark in Princeton's next game Tuesday night against the Quakers. Judson Wallace '05 and Will Venable '05 did the same in their senior seasons.
Davis said securing a positive outcome for the team takes first priority, of course.
"My biggest goal is for us to just win the league," Davis said. "As long as we do that, I'm fine."
Kareem Maddox pulled down 15 boards for the Tigers, tying him with former teammate Zach Finley '10 for a Princeton player's most rebounds in a game since 1999, when Mason Rocca '00 had 18 in an NIT game against Georgetown. Finley had 15 rebounds in a 2009 game against Penn.
Though Princeton led by as many as 22 points late in the second half, victory was far from assured early. The Tigers didn't get on the board until the 16:28 mark of the first half when a Hummer layup made it 8-2 Dartmouth. The Big Green (5-15, 1-5 Ivy) led by as many as nine before the game was five minutes old, but Princeton closed the deficit quickly. A 12-2 run that included contributions from Princeton's four leading scorers on the season erased the Dartmouth lead, and Princeton led by as many as seven before the Big Green scored the last seven points of the half to enter the break tied at 34-34.
Princeton also got off to a slow start in the Friday night game against Harvard before rallying to win.
"If it's a slow start because we're getting stops and we're not making baskets, that is what it is," Sydney Johnson, the Franklin C. Cappon-Edward G. Green '40 head coach of men's basketball, said. "I've seen enough basketball to just know that comes with it. But if it's a slow start because we're not getting stops, we have to reevaluate."
If the first half ended in a draw, the second half was all Princeton. Though the Tigers' shooting percentage dipped from the first half to the second, 50.0% to 41.9%, Princeton's defense had a complete turnaround. After allowing Dartmouth to make 14 of 23 (60.9%) from the field before the break, Princeton kept the Big Green cold in the second half as Dartmouth made seven of its 28 tries from the field.
Princeton compounded that advantage with a 42-29 rebounding edge, with Hummer's eight boards backing up the career-high total of 15 from Maddox. The Tigers also benefited from two fewer turnovers than Dartmouth, 13-11.
Johnson said the energy expended in Princeton's win over then-fellow Ivy unbeaten Harvard may have played a role in Princeton's slow start against Dartmouth.
"Everybody put a lot more attention to (the Harvard game) than maybe we did. Obviously we knew it was important," Johnson said. "It was only game three for us. I think that our guys were probably affected by that, and that was good because they played very hard yesterday. You have to come back, you have to be mature and really focused on game four and bring your own energy."
Hummer said the Tigers wanted to avoid the kind of letdown they experienced a year ago when a subpar effort against Brown followed a hot shooting night in a win over Yale.
"We talked about last year's game where we beat Yale, but we lose to Brown the next day," Hummer said. "We did not want that to happen."
Tyler Melville, whose father Randy Melville is a 1981 Princeton basketball alumnus, led the Big Green with 11 points ahead of 10 apiece from Kirk Crecco and David Rufful.
Tuesday's game against Penn will start at 7 p.m. The Quakers will enter with two days off after an 83-82 double-overtime loss to Harvard tonight that left Princeton as the Ivy League's only undefeated team in conference play.