PHILADELPHIA, PA. 3/11/2017 – The time came for the Ivy League Men’s Basketball teams to take to the floor for a league tournament game. What a great way for it to start with two arch-rivals who once owned the league in men’s basketball. It was the top seeded Princeton Tigers against the #4 seed University of Pennsylvania Quakers. The seeds did not matter, this was Penn and Princeton. And it lived up to the classics these teams have played before.
The Tigers never led in regulation, and never trailed in overtime as they take a 74 – 62 victory in a thriller that was closer than the final score indicated. Guard Myles Stephens got a rebound off a miss and his layup tied the score at 59 with 5.9 ticks on the clock to get five more minutes of play.
“We were fortunate to get a win,” said Princeton Coach Mitch Henderson. “Myles (Stephens) put us on his back, made the shot to send it into overtime. It got us to we could do this.”
“It felt like Penn – Princeton at the Palestra, and it was.”
Penn held a 59 – 57 lead on a jumper by Matt Howard with 43 seconds on the clock. Howard then took a rebound off a Princeton miss and went to the line with 12 seconds to play. He missed the free throw giving the Tigers one more chance. Stephens made the play to give his team life.
“The difference in the game was the last possession,” said Penn Coach Steve Donahue. “They got two offensive rebounds. That’s what they had to do to win this game. That’s a sign of a great team. It was a great game that came down to a put-back by Stephens.”
In the overtime Stephens got the first two field goals of the half and propelled Princeton to the win. The Tigers closed out the game keeping the Red and Blue off the scoreboard until there was 46 seconds remaining, and converted 6 straight free throws to close it out.
Stephens led Princeton with a game-high 21 points making 9 of 18 from the field while adding 10 rebounds. Amir Bell added 16 points, and Devin Cannady scored 12 points and took down 11 rebounds.
Ryan Betley scored a team-high 18 for the Red and Blue as he made 7 of 11 shots, 2 of 4 from distance. Betley added 12 rebounds. Senior Matt Howard, playing in his final collegiate game, scored 17 points converting 6 of 12 from the field. AJ Brodeur recorded a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Darnell Foreman added 11 points.
Princeton improves to 20 – 6 and stays unbeaten in the Ancient Eight. They take the floor in the final on Sunday.
Penn drops to 13 – 15. The team came back from an 0 – 6 league start to make the tournament. The younger players have a good foundation to build on.
“We learned a lot this year, ” said Betley. “We are fired up and ready to work in the off season to get back to this spot, and try and win the league.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian