Instant Replay: Princeton 61, Penn 52

Instant Replay: Princeton 61, Penn 52


PRINCETON, N.J. – A 21-point lead, a furious comeback and an even more determined response: Just another chapter of the Penn-Princeton rivalry.

The Tigers made the storied rivalry look more like a hammer meeting a nail for the first 23 minutes of the game, taking a 39-18 lead, but Penn’s offense came roaring back, hitting six three-pointers to erase Princeton’s significant lead in fewer than 10 minutes thanks to a 26-5 run.

However, Princeton responded with a strong final effort from a trio of guards and held on for a 61-52 win on Saturday night at Jadwin Gymnasium. Junior guard Amir Bell led the charge for Princeton with 12 points off the bench to stake Princeton to the early lead while sophomore Devin Cannady had 16 points, helping finish off the win. 

Fellow sophomore guard Myles Stephens finished with nine points and a career-high 12 rebounds.

Penn junior guard Darnell Foreman came off the bench and scored a game-high 17 points to go with seven rebounds.

The win moves Princeton to 8-6 (1-0 Ivy League) and drops Penn to 6-6 (0-1). The Tigers never trailed 

Turning point
Tied at 44 after Penn’s large run, Princeton called timeout and quickly regained its composure. Cannady hit a quick jumper and was followed by a three from Stephens. Two free throws would extend the response into a 7-0 run that Princeton rode to a win.

The comeback
It wouldn’t have seemed like a Penn-Princeton game with a blowout. Even though Princeton has now won six straight games against Penn, the Quakers have made most of those games close and tonight was no exception. 

Penn’s offense was hapless for most of the first half, but the one bright spot was junior Darnell Foreman. The gritty point guard was able to penetrate Princeton’s defense all night and he proved the catalyst during a second-half comeback. He produced Penn’s first three assists on a night where the Quakers finished with just four.

The Quakers made 6 of 8 threes during the 26-5 run, including three from freshman Ryan Betley, two from sophomore Jackson Donahue and one from Foreman that hit every part of the rim.

Donahue and Betley each finished with 11 points. 

Princeton starts hot, Penn goes cold
Princeton scored the first six points of the game and never trailed. The Tigers’ guards harassed Penn’s guards and prevented the Quakers from getting the ball inside for much of the opening frame. Penn’s disjointed offense could not muster an assist in the first half and turned the ball over nine times. 

While Princeton made 14 of 15 from the free throw line and dominated the rebounding margin, 19-12, Penn went 3 of 7 from the line and was 0 for 7 from three. Penn’s starters narrowly outscored Princeton’s bench in the first half, 17-15.

Ugly first half
There were just two total assists in the first half while the two teams combined to turn the ball over 16 times. There was one 23-second stretch with three turnovers where the ball was seemingly spilled on the floor for the entire time, both teams fumbling over the loose ball. The rivalry has seen better moments.

All-time series
This was the 235th meeting between the two programs. Penn leads the all-time series, 124-111. Princeton, however, has now won 14 of the last 16 duels.

Next up
Penn has its first Ivy doubleheader next weekend, hosting Yale and Brown on Friday and Saturday. The Quakers then have two more Big 5 games left vs. St. Joe’s and La Salle later this month.

Princeton is done with non-conference play and only has its Ivy weekend and a rematch with Penn on Feb. 7 left. 

NCAA Tournament wrap: UNC edges out Kentucky on Maye game-winner

NCAA Tournament wrap: UNC edges out Kentucky on Maye game-winner

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Luke Maye hit a jumper with 0.3 seconds left, and top-seeded North Carolina held off Kentucky 75-73 to earn the Tar Heels' second straight trip to the Final Four and 20th all-time in Sunday's showdown of college basketball's elite in the South Regional.

The Tar Heels (31-7) will play Midwest champ Oregon on Saturday in Phoenix in the national semifinal.

North Carolina took control with a 12-0 run within the final 5 minutes. Kentucky's freshmen De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk hit three quick 3s, the last two by Monk and his second with 7.2 seconds left tied it up at 73.

Theo Pinson brought the ball down, passed back to Maye. The sophomore from Huntersville, North Carolina, knocked it down for the win with his feet on the 3-point line.

The Wildcats had one last chance, but Derek Willis' inbound pass went out of bounds on the far end.

Kentucky (32-6) will miss out on the Final Four for the second straight year.

South Carolina beats Florida to reach first Final Four
NEW YORK -- It's only right that South Carolina's first trip to Final Four was earned through its defense.

A team known for a swarming zone used it effectively down the stretch to beat Florida 77-70 on Sunday and win the East Regional at Madison Square Garden.

Sindarius Thornwell scored 26 points for the seventh-seeded Gamecocks (26-10) against the fourth-seeded Gators (27-9) in the all-Southeastern Conference matchup.

South Carolina will face Gonzaga, the No. 1 seed from the West Regional, in the Final Four on Saturday at Glendale, Arizona.

"Gamecock Nation, we heard you loud and clear," coach Frank Martin roared as the team prepared to cut down the nets. "We'll see you in Phoenix."

The game was as close as expected until the final minute. There were 14 lead changes and 10 ties. The last lead change came on two free throws by Thornwell with 2:24 left that made it 65-63. Florida managed just three field goals over the final 3:55.

Thornwell, the regional MVP, followed the deciding free throws with a nice assist to Maik Kotsar for a 4-point lead. It seemed Thornwell, who scored eight straight points for the Gamecocks, was always where he needed to be including making a steal with 40 seconds left that turned into a 73-68 lead.

"I just made plays," Thornwell said. "Plays needed to be made down the stretch and I stepped up and made plays."

"Thornwell was just being Thornwell," Florida coach Mike White said of the SEC player of the year. "He's one of the best players in the country."

PJ Dozier added 17 points for the Gamecocks, Chris Silva had 13 and Kotsar 12.

It all totaled to a Final Four trip for Martin, he of the booming voice and terrifying faces.

Justin Leon had 18 points for the Gators who managed a 40-33 halftime lead on 7-for-12 shooting from 3-point range. But that was it. Florida was 0 for 14 from beyond the arc in the second half, a lot like the 0-for-17 effort the Gators had in their first meeting with South Carolina this season.

South Carolina, which forced Florida into 16 turnovers, finished 23 for 31 from the free throw line, including a 9-for-10 effort from Thornwell.

NCAA Tournament Wrap: Gonzaga reaches 1st Final Four; Oregon upsets Kansas

NCAA Tournament Wrap: Gonzaga reaches 1st Final Four; Oregon upsets Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Tyler Dorsey poured in 27 points, Dillon Brooks added 17 and plucky Oregon ended Kansas' romp through the NCAA Tournament with a 74-60 victory Saturday night that gave the Ducks their first Final Four trip in nearly 80 years.

Dylan Ennis added 12 points for the Ducks (33-5), who took the lead with 16 minutes left in the first half and never trailed again, giving coach Dana Altman his first trip to the national semifinals.

They'll face the winner of Sunday's game between North Carolina and Kentucky in Glendale, Arizona.

Player of the year front-runner Frank Mason III had 21 points in his final game for the Jayhawks (31-5), who had rolled to the Elite Eight by an average margin of 30 points. But their dream season ended with a thud just 40 minutes from campus on a night where very little went right (see full recap).

Gonzaga beats Xavier to reach 1st Final Four
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Nigel Williams-Goss scored 23 points while orchestrating Gonzaga's efficient offense, and the Zags finally shook their overrated tag by routing Xavier 83-59 on Saturday to reach the Final Four for the first time.

Gonzaga (36-1) has been dogged by criticism through the years despite winning consistently, in part for playing in a weak conference but also for never making the Final Four.

On the cusp of history, the Zags took it head on with a superb all-around game to give coach Mark Few the one missing piece of his resume.

Gonzaga found the range from the perimeter after struggling the first three NCAA games, making 12 of 24 from 3-point range. The defense, a soft spot in the past, shut down the underdog and 11th-seeded Musketeers (24-14) to win the West Region.

The Zags will face the winner between South Carolina and Florida in next week's Final Four in Arizona (see full recap).