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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Asked about the last time the Princeton men's basketball team went to triple overtime, Mitch Henderson responded with a feeling his players undoubtedly share tonight.
"I remember it was exhausting," Henderson, now the head coach, said of a night 17 years ago in New Orleans.
Tonight, an extra 15 minutes of work produced a 75-73 win at Florida State, which was the preseason No. 3 pick in the ACC behind Duke and North Carolina.
Henderson's freshman year was the last time Princeton went to triple overtime, and the then-rookie contributed 13 points in 40 minutes of action to help the Tigers beat Texas A&M in a holiday tournament.
It was just the sixth time in program history, and the first on a non-Ivy League team's home floor, that Princeton went at least three extra sessions.
Against the Seminoles, Princeton led 27-10 at the half before seeing Florida State chip away at the advantage, ultimately tying the game at 47-47 at the end of regulation. FSU did not lead in the game's first 40 minutes, and Princeton was inches from ending the game there before Mack Darrow's put-back attempt with two seconds remaining didn't fall.
"The first half was crucial," Ian Hummer said. "I think it really shows the character of our team to come in on the road against a very good ACC team. To withstand a triple overtime win, it shows a lot of character. Hopefully we bring that into league play."
Florida State had chances to win it at the end of each of the first two overtimes before Princeton escaped each time thanks to the Seminoles' struggles from the free-throw line.
With 2.6 seconds left in the first overtime and the score tied at 53-53, a foul by Brendan Connolly sent Florida State's Bernard James to the line for a one-and-one. if James made the shot, a victory for FSU would have been all but certain, given that Princeton would have 2.6 seconds to traverse the court and get off a shot.
James missed, however, and time ran out on the rebound.
With 24 seconds left in the second overtime, Princeton had a chance to take hold of the game, ahead 60-59. A turnover by T.J. Bray in the backcourt, however, preceded Bray's fifth foul and sent FSU's Ian Miller to the free-throw line to give the Seminoles the chance to pull ahead.
Miller missed the first, made the second, and a desperation shot by Douglas Davis at the other end didn't fall.
The teams went to a third overtime, tied 60-60.
In what became the final five minutes, two 3-pointers from Davis and two buckets inside from Hummer gave Princeton a 70-65 lead, and Princeton made 5 of 6 free throws from that point forward to ice it.
Hummer and Davis each finished with a game-high 25 points, tying Hummer's career best. Hummer added 15 rebounds, also a game high and a career high, for his fourth double-double this season. Davis played all 55 minutes and Hummer 53 of the 55.
Florida State's (8-5) losses this season are to Connecticut, Michigan State, Florida, Harvard and now Princeton. The Seminoles dropped to 0-4 all-time against the Ivy League, with three of those losses coming against Princeton and the most recent of the Tiger defeats coming in 1998.
Princeton (7-7) has now won six of its last eight games after a 1-5 start, with the two recent losses coming on the road at Drexel and Siena by four points apiece.
"We struggled in a couple games during the beginning of the year, but I think we're picking it up quite a bit," Hummer said.
The Tigers will have their first New Year's Day game since 1957 Sunday, staying in Tallahassee to face Florida A&M (2-11) at 3 p.m. on Jan. 1.
The game was the first triple overtime contest in Florida State's history.
The win breaks a 51-game losing streak for teams outside the "big six" conferences on Florida State's home floor. Florida International won at FSU on Dec. 12, 2004 for the last such victory.
Coupled with Princeton's win at Rutgers earlier this month, the Tigers have beaten two major-conference teams for the first time since the 1998-99 season. It is the first time since the 1966-67 season that Princeton has beaten two teams currently in "big six" conferences on their home floors.