PHILADELPHIA - The last time Princeton won a game at The Palestra for the second straight year, one of the guys in a suit on the bench was the team's leading scorer.
It wasn't a star player sitting out with injury, it was assistant coach Brian Earl.
Another game has added more superlatives for a Princeton men's basketball team riding team defense and versatility on offense to a 58-51 victory over Penn Tuesday night that moved the Tigers to 15-6 overall and 6-1 in the Ivy League.
Among those six wins are road victories in all five chances in league play, including a second straight victory at The Palestra for the first time since 1999.
"We're in a place that we haven't been since I've been here," said Sydney Johnson, the Franklin C. Cappon-Edward G. Green '40 head coach of basketball. "We're going to get everybody's best effort (from the opposition) and we've got to see if we can respond to that. It's kind of nice to be in that situation."
Video: Sydney Johnson, Ian Hummer and Dan Mavraides in the postgame press conference.
The defense held Penn (4-17, 3-4 Ivy) to its lowest shooting percentage of the season, 32.0 percent, as the Quakers made just 16 of 50 attempts. The versatility on offense saw Princeton win despite having its leading scorer on the season, Douglas Davis, go scoreless for the first time in his Tiger career.
"It's harder because he's such a good player for us," Johnson said of doing without points from Davis. "He makes things easier for us, but at the same time, we've been doing this as a team."
Highlighting the kind of varied ability the Tigers look for from each player, Davis led Princeton with three assists and tied a career high with five rebounds, helping others make up on the scoring end.
Where the Quakers helped to limit Davis to four field goal attempts, Dan Mavraides and Ian Hummer stepped in. Mavraides went 6 of 12 from the field and hit 10 of 11 free throws to score a career-high 24 points, better than the 22 points he scored last season in the win at Harvard.
Hummer was 6 of 8 from the field on the way to 14 points, his fourth double-digit scoring game in seven Ivy League contests.
Princeton never trailed in its largest margin of victory in the series since 2001, when the Tigers won by 14 points at The Palestra on the way to an Ivy League championship season.
There's a long way to go before the Ivy champion is decided this season, and Princeton will host another key league weekend at Jadwin Gym against Yale and Brown to help further things along.
But the grit the Tigers showed in a place where they've won now just twice in the last five tries was encouraging. While Princeton never trailed and yet never led by more than nine, Penn went on a 6-0 run to cut the Tiger lead to 43-40 with six minutes to play.
"We can be in ballgames when we're very good defensively," Johnson said. "I think that our offense, the way that we play, if we stick to it, we're going to get quality shots."
The one-possession game energized the 4,000-plus fans at The Palestra, but the Tigers didn't buckle. Hummer drove for back-to-back layups, and after a split at the line by Mavraides, Penn never again came within five points.