As Princeton’s junior guard Jose Morales drove to the basket with one second remaining, the 1,800 fans inside of Newman Arena held their collective breath as his acrobatic layup attempt and Myles Stephens’ putback attempt were both unable to find the bottom of the basket, sending the game to overtime.
Although Cornell (10-10, 2-2 Ivy) downed the Tigers in a 107-101 triple-overtime thriller last year, Princeton had too many weapons for Cornell to overcome despite a valiant Cornell comeback that forced overtime.
After last year’s triple-OT win in Ithaca, Princeton exacted its revenge, claiming a 70-61 victory on Saturday.
Coming off an 80-71 win over defending Ivy League champion Penn the night before, Cornell attempted to extend its home winning streak to six games, welcoming head coach Brian Earl’s alma mater Princeton.
The 2017 Ivy champion, Princeton (12-5, 4-0) was dominant in the rebounding department and defensively in the first half, collecting five more rebounds than the Red and holding the home team to 32 percent shooting from the field and 17 percent three-point shooting.
Cornell was unable to make a field goal throughout the final five minutes of the half, while the Tigers shot 62 percent from the field — Princeton led for 19 minutes before halftime.
With the strong effort, the Tigers were able to carry a 31-23 lead into the break.
In the second half, Cornell was able to slow down the Tiger offense by playing a three-quarter court press, making it difficult on the Princeton ball handlers to ignite the offense. This issue was compounded for the Tigers when their star freshman point guard Jaelin Llewellyn left the game with 16:51 remaining due to a right ankle injury; he was unable to return.
As a result, the Tigers shot just 37.5 percent in the second half and missed all six of their three-point attempts. The Red, on the other hand, stepped up their play to send the game into an extra session.
Despite Princeton leading for nearly 37 minutes of regulation, the Red forced OT behind 11 second half points from junior forward Josh Warren, who hit two clutch free throws with 18 seconds left to tie the game at 56.
In overtime, Princeton got to the free throw line 14 times, where they made 10 of their attempts. On the other hand, Cornell shot just 22 from the field and did not attempt a free throw in the extra session.
“It seems like the lesson for us from this game is that a lot of these games are going to come down to the last couple of seconds for us, so we should be comfortable being uncomfortable,” Earl said. “Also, as always, we have to make foul shots.”
Star senior guard Matt Morgan and Warren had 16 points apiece to lead the Red. Additionally, senior forward Steven Julian had 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocks for the home team. Princeton center Richmond Aririguzoh scored 20 points on a perfect six-for-six from the field and eight-for-10 from the free throw line. He was aided by Stephens and Ryan Schwieger who added 15 and 14 points, respectively.
“I was basically just trying to do whatever the team needed me to do out there,” Julian said. “My contribution to this team is to do anything I can to help us win.”
Princeton was without leading scorer Devin Cannady, who was suspended by the team indefinitely after being arrested at a Wawa convenience store a few weeks ago.
Cornell will continue Ivy League play next weekend when it travels to Dartmouth and Harvard. Last season, the Red swept the Big Green, while the Crimson defeated Cornell all three times the rivals faced off in 2018, most importantly in the Ivy tournament.
“This weekend is over now, so we just have to focus on next weekend,” Morgan said. “We have to do everything we can to steal two road wins against Dartmouth and Harvard; we won a good game [against Penn], so we just have to bounce back from this game. We couldn’t pull it out today, but the season goes on.”