Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 7
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
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CROWD PLEASER: Princeton University men’s basketball star Douglas Davis heads to the hoop last Saturday against No. 22 Cornell before a packed house at Jadwin Gym. Sophomore guard Davis, a former Hun School standout, scored 18 points in the second half but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 48-45 to Cornell.

Davis Lights Up Electric Jadwin Crowd, but PU Men’s Hoops Falls 48-45 to Cornell

Bill Alden

It was like old times last Saturday night at Jadwin Gym when the Princeton University men’s basketball team hosted Cornell in an Ivy League showdown.

The electric atmosphere in the venerable gym was reminiscent of the halcyon days in the 1990s when the Tigers annually battled for the Ivy crown and their home games were a happening.

Princeton entered the evening at 5-0 league play with No. 22 Cornell having fallen at Penn the night before in suffering its first Ivy loss.

Jadwin was packed to the rafters with a throng of 5,775, smelling blood as they raucously urged the Tigers to pin a defeat on the vaunted Big Red, the two-time defending league champions.

In another parallel to the 1990s when the Tigers featured such star guards as current head coach Sydney Johnson and assistant Brian Earl, it was a sharp-shooting backcourter, Douglas Davis, who would lead the way for Princeton.

After weathering an early storm which saw Cornell jump out to an 8-0 lead, the Tigers went on a 10-2 run to tie the game.

From then on, the tension rose as the game escalated into a bruising battle. Princeton trailed 24-21 at halftime and neither team led by more than five points in the second half.

Davis, the former Hun School star, kept the Tigers in the game down the stretch as he scored 18 points in the second half.

“I just let the game come to me and the open shots that I had, I tried to take them and I made them,” said sophomore guard Davis, who hit five-of-eight shots, including three-of-five three-pointers in the second half along with canning five free throws.

“I tried to be more aggressive and I think the team as a whole was more aggressive in the second half. We came at them offensively; we were getting some good shots.”

The game came down to a Davis shot as the Tigers got the ball with eight seconds left trailing 48-45.

The elusive 5’11, 155-pound Davis knifed through the Cornell defense and was able to get off a three-pointer.

“I let it go; it felt a little long but I knew it was on line,” recalled Davis, who ended the evening with a total of 20 points. “It hit the backboard; I was praying that it would go in somehow.”

Davis’ prayers weren’t answered, though, as the ball clanged harmlessly off the basket and the Tigers fell by that 48-45 margin.

While Tiger head coach Johnson was disappointed by the outcome, he was proud of the ways his players battled to the buzzer.

“I thought it was a terrific basketball game,” said Johnson, whose team dropped to 14-6 overall and 5-1 in Ivy play with the setback.

“It wasn’t pretty and it was physical. I thought these guys really put their hearts out. I was really happy with the effort of our team and certainly they should feel good about their effort. It is a shame we couldn’t win the game.”

In assessing what made the difference down the stretch, Johnson thought it came down to some defensive letdowns by the Tigers.

“We have a pretty solid defensive approach and it just seemed like a couple of things that they did were too easy,” explained Johnson.

“There were some drives that were right at the rim and that is not something we allow too often. If you look at the numbers overall, they shot 45 percent; a few points less than that and we would have been happy.”

Cornell head coach Steve Donahue was more than happy to escape Jadwin with a victory.

“I just thought it was such a high intensity basketball game where both teams played terrific basketball,” said Donahue, whose team improved to 21-4 overall and 7-1 in Ivy action.

“I thought they executed really well for long stretches and I thought we guarded their stuff for long stretches. When we needed to execute, I thought we did a terrific job as well. Both teams just hustled; there was a physicality to the game but there weren’t a lot of fouls. It was a real well-played college basketball game.”

Donahue lauded Davis for the way he has been playing. “Doug has just had an unbelievable season; I think he is such a great competitor,” asserted Donahue.

“He hunts down his shot so well; his teammates know how to get him the ball and they do so many things. I thought we did a very good job on him. He took only 10 shots and he made six and I thought they were all pretty difficult. He is as good as there is in this league.”

In Johnson’s view, Davis is in a league of his own. “I do scratch my head at times when there is not a lot of ink written on this young man,” said Johnson, referring to Davis, who is averaging a team-high 13.9 points per game and has hit on 42.2 percent of his three-point attempts (49-for-116) this season.

“Doug is pretty good, he really helped us out. He has been doing that for a year and a half now so we will continue to lean on him and try to get him good shots. What he does well is he lets it come to him and when he doesn’t have a shot, he gets other people involved. It’s a pretty effective way of playing. I have been happy with how he has been going about his business.”

Johnson was also happy about the electric atmosphere at Jadwin. “It was terrific,” said Johnson, whose club was slated to play at Penn on February 16 before hosting Yale on February 19 and Brown on February 20.

“We want to win badly; we are about winning but to see that environment was great. These guys put themselves in this position to have a big game like that and they ought to take a lot of pride from that. The next step is to win a game like that. It was a terrific atmosphere, the wrong team won.”

Davis is confident that the Tigers will have more big games at Jadwin. “I have never seen Jadwin like that ever,” said Davis.

“I have seen pictures; it’s lovely playing in Jadwin when it’s like that. I can’t wait to play before another crowd like that in Jadwin.”

If Davis keeps up his lovely shooting, there figures to be plenty of fans making their way to Jadwin.

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