In 25 hours' time, the Princeton men's basketball team went from being one loss away from practical elimination from the Ivy League race to being alone in first place.
First, the Tigers had an emotional five-point, hang-on win over Harvard last night. Then, Princeton started slow tonight on senior night in Jadwin Gym against Dartmouth, eventually coming back from a 68-63 win.
And then, through whatever media one chooses to consume these days, news made its way from Philadelphia to Princeton that Ivy League leader Harvard (17-9, 9-3) had been upset by Penn, 75-72.
So, there you have it. Three wins, and the Tigers are sole Ivy League champions, hearing their name called on Selection Sunday. Sounds easy enough.
Except that the next team Princeton (16-9, 9-2) will play, Yale Friday in New Haven, has already defeated Princeton this season, and that the Tigers lost their last visit there a year ago. And the next team, Brown Saturday in Providence, dealt the Tigers their first loss after an 8-0 Ivy League start in 2011, when the current seniors were sophomores.
And that the team after that, Penn a week from Tuesday in Philadelphia, would probably like to knock off their generations-long rival just as they did the Crimson tonight on the same floor.
Yes, just three little wins to go. And if the Tigers needed any more reminding that the path won't be easy, they need only look back to how tonight's game started against a Big Green (7-19, 3-9) team that had just knocked off Penn the night before.
Six early turnovers and 2-for-8 shooting over the first 10 minutes by Princeton helped the Big Green to a 13-4 lead, and the Tigers were down eight at 19-11 with less than six minutes to go before halftime. Princeton closed the half on a 9-2 run to make it a one-point deficit at the break, 21-20.
But once Princeton took the lead at 25-24 on a split from the free throw line by T.J. Bray, who with 21 points was just two short of his career high set on Jan. 12 against Penn.
Princeton's largest lead was 12 points, coming midway through a second half that saw the Tigers shoot 54.2 percent after shooting just 33.3 percent before the break.
Will Barrett had a career-high 24 points, surpassing the 20 he scored in the season opener against Buffalo on Nov. 10.
• Princeton's seniors completed an 8-0 sweep of Dartmouth, the second Ivy League team against which they will graduate with a perfect record. Columbia is the other.
• Ian Hummer followed up his 23-point night against Harvard with 13 points, giving him 1,579 for his career. Already in second place on the Princeton career list, he passed Harvard's Tyler Rullman (1,577) for 23rd place on the Ivy League list. Brown's Jason Forte is next at 1,597.
• Hummer also made what is likely his last jump on Princeton's career rebounding list, now in fifth place with 712. He passed Chris Thomforde '69, who amassed his 709 boards in three seasons.
• Princeton improved to 9-1 this season when T.J. Bray scores in double figures.
• Dartmouth's Tyler Melville, son of Princeton basketball alum Randy Melville '81, led the Big Green with 23 points. Gabas Maldunas had a double-double with 17 points and 12 boards.
• 66 of Princeton's 68 points came from the starting five.
• The game was the last in Jadwin Gym for Princeton's five seniors, including Ian Hummer, Brendan Connolly, Mack Darrow, Ameer Elbuluk and Isaac Serwanga, all of whom played.