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
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.
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.
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.
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.