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Friday, November 16, 2012

Princeton fails to make it three straight over Rutgers


Princeton's Ian Hummer shoots over Rutgers' Wally Judge/ Photo by JOHN BLAINE
PRINCETON — Princeton came into Tuesday night’s game against Rutgers’ looking for it’s third consecutive win over its in-state rival. It left with a two-game losing streak.

The Scarlet Knights ended their skid against the Tigers at Jadwin Gymnasium, knocking off Princeton, 58-52. After failing behind early, Rutgers was able to go ahead with about seven minutes left before the half. From that point forward — despite keeping the game within a single-digit margin — Princeton was never able to retake the lead.

“Rutgers is a very good team, but to be perfectly honest, we didn’t play very well and we were only two or three points down,” said senior forward Ian Hummer. “That being the case, it was frustrating not being able to cross that threshold.”

The Tigers grabbed control of the game early on the defensive end, holding Rutgers to just one field goal in the first eight minutes. On the other end of the court, however, Princeton struggled to make shots, allowing the Scarlet Knights back into the contest.

“It was 13-2 and all of a sudden it was 16-16,” coach Mitch Henderson said. “We’ve hit some droughts.”

Rutgers got a huge boost off the bench from guard Eli Carter. The sophomore knocked down four 3-pointers in the first half en route to a 22-point performance.

“He’s so quick, you never know what he’s going to do,” said Princeton guard T.J. Bray, who had the task of guarding Carter for much of the night. “He has a quick jumper and a quick release. There were a couple times we messed up and he killed us.”

Like Northeastern did Tuesday, the Scarlet Knight’s played a lot of zone and tried to force the ball out of Hummer’s hands. Hummer ended up with 10 points and six assists.

“He’s almost as good a passer as he is a scorer, but he’s not going to beat me for a third time,” Rutgers coach Mike Rice said.

His supporting cast, however, simply didn’t knock down enough shots. The Tigers shot an anemic 31.9 percent from the floor.

“We’ve been making shots, so I know it’s going to come,” Henderson said. “It’s just not happening right now. They look good, and they are the right kinds of shots for us.”

Bray was, once again, one of the primary offenders. After shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc last season, Bray went 1 of 8 Friday, and is now 1 of 19 on the young season.

“They’re feeling pretty good coming off my hand, they’re just rattling in-and-out,” he said. “I don’t feel like I’ve had too many bad misses, but they’ve got to go down.”

Though Princeton played solid defense, it also had a hard time keeping Rutgers off the boards. The Tigers were out-rebounded 42 to 24.

“It’s concerning,” Henderson said. “That’s what we want to hang our hat on this year, so it’s disappointing. They had six offense rebounds in the first half. It was like paddy cake against the glass.”

With 1:52 left in the game, Rutgers' Austin Johnson grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled by Bray on the put-back. He then converted the three-point play, stretching the Scarlet Knights’ lead to 55-47.

Clay Wilson hit a three with just over 10 seconds to play to keep things interesting, but by that point the game was effectively over.

Myles Mack had 16 points for the Scarlet Knights. Will Barrett lead the way for Princeton with 13, while Denton Koon had nine off the bench.

Things don’t get any easier for the Tigers. Their next game is Wednesday at eighth-ranked Syracuse.

“They really pushed us around,” Hummer said. “Now, we have to push back.”

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