PRINCETON: Tigers miss shot at 3-0

Slow start dooms PU men’s basketball vs. Army

By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
   The Princeton University men’s basketball team entered Saturday’s game against Army with a chance to start the season 3-0 for the first time in six years.
   But the Tigers dug themselves an early 10-0 hole, trailed by 20 in the second half and ultimately came up just short in a 56-52 loss to the Black Knights at Jadwin Gym.
   ”It was a nice chance to get to 3-0 and it is gone,” said Princeton coach Sydney Johnson, whose team turned the ball over 27 times in the game. “We got outplayed. We have experienced guys that I thought could play through (the rough start) and that wasn’t the case. And we got out-competed. I’m heartbroken because that is hard to reconcile.”
   A turnover filled first half did not go well for the Tigers. Army jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the opening minutes thanks to eight Princeton turnovers before scoring a point. The Tigers finally got on the board with 12:20 left in the first half when Pawel Buczak scored off an assist from Douglas Davis. The lead grew to 18-4 with eight minutes left in the first half. Davis scored to get it to 18-6 and closed the lead to 27-14 at halftime.
   ”It’s very disappointing,” said junior Dan Mavraides, who led the Tigers with 14 points. “I know we have a lot of potential on this team and everyone really cares about winning, but it didn’t show today. That is something that should just come naturally and a loss shouldn’t teach you that. But in our situation it is and we need to learn from this loss and come on.”
   The second half didn’t start much better for the Tigers, who trailed 37-18 before Davis hit a three-pointer with just under 16 minutes left. But Army answered right back with a pair of baskets to make it 41-21 and the Tigers were never able to get a run going to get much closer.
   At that point the Tigers made a run and cut the lead to 51-47 with 1:22 left on a pair of Nick Lake free throws. Army had trouble at the line and the Tigers got as close as three points, but never closer.
   ”There are small positives that we can take away from the second half,” Mavraides said. “I think what we can take from the last 10 minutes or so is that if we had played like that from the beginning of the game it would have been a different story. But we had too much to come back.”
   Johnson, whose team will play at George Washington tonight, took some solace from his team’s comeback attempt, but still hoped for more.
   ”There was some fire there in order for us to come back,” Johnson said. “So it wasn’t like they stopped playing. I think it showed something. The youngsters who were out there on the floor should be proud of their minutes. But as a team we were not as strong as we needed to be. And we can only accomplish something positive this year by all of us being tough and ready to play. And that wasn’t the case tonight.”
   Princeton will look to rebound tonight at GW. Johnson hopes the loss to Army was just a blip in what turns out to be a successful season. After opening with a pair of encouraging wins, the Tigers took a step backwards with the loss to Army.
   ”I think every game is different and every year is different and there has to be a real commitment to come back on Tuesday and compete,” Johnson said. “It’s a road game and who knows if we will win or lose? But the competing part we just can’t get away from it. That is where we let Princeton down tonight.”
   Lake finished with 10 points and seven rebounds for the Tigers. Mavraides added five assists and five rebounds to his 14 points.