Men's Basketball Gets First Postseason Win Since '99 (with video)
The last time any Tiger men's hoops team was in the postseason, the current senior class was learning to contribute to their respective high school varsity teams as sophomores.
It had been longer still since Princeton won a postseason game, but both too-long streaks came to an end against the Dukes in a 65-51 win.
"We've had times this season where we've started out slowly and we just kind of figured it out, so I felt like we were going to," said Sydney Johnson, the Franklin C. Cappon-Edward G. Green '40 head coach of men's basketball, about the slow start. "It probably took a little bit longer than I wanted it to."
Video: Sydney Johnson, Douglas Davis, Ian Hummer and Kareem Maddox in the postgame press conference.
Princeton has won its first postseason game since 1999, when current assistant coach Brian Earl was a senior leading the Tigers to a second-round National Invitational Tournament win at North Carolina State.
And for two days at least, the Tigers have taken back the title of the last Ivy League team to win a postseason game. Since 2002, it has belonged to Yale, which defeated Rutgers in that year's NIT.
In 1999, the game after Princeton's win over N.C. State, the Earl-led Tigers lost at Xavier, the only time Princeton had faced an Atlantic 10 team in the postseason. Now that score has been settled too, allowing Princeton to improve to 2-0 all-time at home in the postseason along the way.
In another first since 1999, the Tigers have reached the 21-win mark for the first time since finishing with a 22-7 record 11 years ago.
Princeton's next postsesaon game will also be its first on an opponent's home floor in eight years, and the Tigers will travel a similar distance to get there. Whereas in 2002, Princeton lost by one point at Louisville, Monday the Tigers will play at 7 p.m. at IUPUI in Indianapolis, Ind.
Princeton was able to advance in the CBI after rebounding from being down as many as nine points past the midway point of the first half. From there, the Tigers went on a half-closing 17-3 run to lead by five points at the break. Douglas Davis had 11 of those points on his way to a game-high 16.
"The main thing that was wrong with the first half was that our energy was so low," junior Kareem Maddox said. "It's not how we played most of the second half and I think for the most part all season. For some reason that was different and we came out to fix that. I think (seniors) Nick Lake and Marcus Schroeder definitely led that charge."
Joining Davis in double figures were Maddox, with 15, and Ian Hummer, with 14.
While the offense was enough to carry the Tigers, who never trailed in the second half, the defense rose to the occasion once again.
Princeton (21-8) put itself in good company against Duquesne (16-16) this season, joining Xavier and West Virginia as the only teams in 2009-10 to hold the Dukes to as few as 51 points. Duquesne finished the game shooting 37 percent from the field.
Also encouraging for the Tigers, alongside getting their second win in three tries this season against Atlantic 10 opponents, was that Princeton led for the final 20-plus minutes despite its second-leading scorer and holder of the longest active scoring streak at 49 games, Dan Mavraides, seeing that streak come to an end.
"All of our guys have the potential to have the type of game that these guys had tonight," said Johnson, motioning to Davis, Maddox and Hummer. "And it's because of our depth."
The trio of Davis, Hummer and Maddox combined to shoot 16 for 27 from the field, or better than 59 percent. Princeton's two senior centers, Zach Finley and Pawel Buczak, were also strong, combining to make 6 of 11 attempts and add 14 points.
Finley contributed to a 15-rebound advantage for Princeton, matching the Tigers' largest of the season after the Columbia game last month, with his season-high eight rebounds.