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In Must-Win Game, Men's Hoops Outlasts Harvard 58-53

Courtesy: Princeton Athletic Communications                                                                      Release: 03/02/2013
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Courtesy: Princeton Athletic Communications
Ian Hummer had 23 points and 14 boards against Harvard Friday.
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There were a lot of happy people in Jadwin Gym Friday night, but likely none happier than Ian Hummer.

The night before the Princeton senior was to play his last game on a campus that has educated his father, brother and uncle, two of whom are fellow Princeton basketball alumni, Hummer and his teammates willed the Tigers to a must-win 58-53 victory over Ivy League leader Harvard.

Hummer had gotten a taste of an Ivy League title and an NCAA Tournament berth as a sophomore, and with 23 points and 14 rebounds, he kept alive his team's chances of realizing that one last time.

Princeton improved to 15-9 overall and 8-2 in the Ivy, handing Harvard (17-8, 9-2) its second loss to pull the Crimson even with the Tigers on that side of the ledger. As in 2011, if both teams hold serve, Princeton would have to make up that half game in the win column at Penn on March 12.

But a lot has to go right for both teams between now and then. Princeton will host Dartmouth Saturday before heading to Yale and Brown, then Penn. Harvard will head to Penn Saturday before hosting Columbia and Cornell to close out its Ivy slate.

For most of the night, Princeton held a steady lead over Harvard, getting the advantage as wide as 10 points midway through the second half. Just as that happened, the drought began.

Princeton's side of the scoreboard stayed stuck at 46 for six minutes, six seconds until a pair of Hummer free throws gave Princeton a 48-46 lead.

It was short-lived.

Harvard held Princeton without a field goal for eight minutes, 11 seconds, pulling ahead as much as three at 51-48 with less than three minutes to go and as late as 53-52 with a little more than one minute left.

Ian Hummer hit two free throws to put the Tigers ahead 54-53, but Princeton's next time down the floor was the game-saver. Following a turnover under Harvard's basket, Mack Darrow missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and Hummer tipped the rebound into the backcourt, keeping it alive so that some Tiger might recover it. As the ball headed for the sidelines, T.J. Bray careened into the boards and swatted the ball back in play where Denton Koon recovered.

Koon hit two free throws, and with 2.7 seconds left, too little time remained for Harvard to succeed in a length-of-the-court play. After Princeton intercepted the long inbounds pass, Bray iced the game from the free throw line.

In addition to keeping Princeton involved in the Ivy title race, Hummer became the second-leading scorer in Princeton history, surpassing Kit Mueller '91 and former teammate Douglas Davis '12. Hummer entered the game with 1,541 points and left with 1,564, leaving Mueller's 1,546 and Davis's 1,550 behind him.

Only Bill Bradley '65, a teammate of his father, Ed '67, is in front of the younger Hummer, amassing an insurmountable 2,503 points in just three seasons.

Also while staying in the Ivy race, Princeton kept its noteworthy hex over Harvard in Jadwin Gym intact. The Crimson have lost 24 in a row in Princeton, its last win coming in 1989. Then again, Harvard has developed something of a hex over Princeton in Cambridge, the Tigers having lost their last three games on the banks of the Charles.

That mutual home-court dominance has put the respective teams where they stand now, even with each other head-to-head and each with one loss they must regret, Harvard at Columbia and Princeton at home against Yale. Both contending teams, of course, still must face the opponents that unexpectedly tripped them up.

Postgame notes

• Princeton's 24-game winning streak over Harvard is Princeton's longest active streak over any Ivy League foe. It is one of two lengthy streaks the Tigers have in Jadwin Gym over an Ivy opponent, the other being a 20-game run Princeton has against Columbia.

• Princeton will try to keep the momentum going against Dartmouth Saturday night at 6, honoring their seniors before the game. The group includes Ian Hummer, Mack Darrow, Brendan Connolly, Ameer Elbuluk and Isaac Serwanga.

• Ian Hummer had his first double-double of the season, with 23 points and 14 rebounds. His last double-double was Mar. 6, 2012, with 18 points and 10 boards at Penn.

• Hummer's 14 rebounds were one off his career high, set last season at Florida State with 15 in a 3OT win. It matches his most in regulation, equaling the 14 he grabbed against Presbyterian in Nov. 2010.

• Princeton's .373 shooting clip was its lowest from the field against a Division I team since shooting .298 at Wagner on Nov. 28.

• Princeton narrowly kept alive its streak of hitting a 3-pointer in every game since the rule became in place for the 1986-87 season. Mack Darrow hit the only trey, coming with 9:58 to go in the game.

• It was impossible for Princeton to play better defense on one of the nation's top 3-point shooting teams. The Tigers held Harvard empty from distance, going 0 for 8. Harvard entered the game ranked No. 7 in Division I at 3-point field goal percentage at .401.

• T.J. Bray added 14 points. The Tigers are 8-1 when Bray reaches double figures.

• Princeton benefited from a 37-24 rebounding edge over the Crimson, making up for being outshot 40.0 percent to 37.3 percent and turning the ball over 12 times to Harvard's 11.

• Ian Hummer outperformed Wesley Saunders in their second meeting, as in the first meeting between the Ivy League Player of the Year frontrunners. Hummer outscored Saunders 18-10 in Cambridge and 23-11 in Princeton.

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