March 26, 2014

PU Men’s Hoops Enjoys Another CBI Run, Topping Tulane Before Falling in Quarters


QUARTER TURN: Princeton University men’s basketball player Clay Wilson looks to pass the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Monday, junior guard Wilson scored six points in a losing cause as Princeton fell 72-56 at Fresno State in the quarterfinals of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI). The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 21-9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton University men’s basketball program, taking part in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) has provided the Tigers with some March gladness.

In 2010, Princeton defeated Duquesne and IUPUI first two rounds of the 16-team tourney before falling to Saint Louis in the semis.

Two years ago, the Tigers topped Evansville in the CBI opening round before falling to Pitt in the quarters.

This March, in its latest trip to the CBI, Princeton edged Tulane 56-55 last Wednesday before falling 72-56 at Fresno State on Monday in a quarterfinal contest.

In reflecting on the victory over Tulane, Tiger head coach Mitch Henderson saw it as a major positive.

“I am happy with the win,” said Henderson, whose team ended the season with a 21-9 overall record.

“It is an opportunity for us to keep playing. I thought we defended well which is what we have been doing the last month and a half. They sort of spread you out; they are a hard team to guard because they are one-on-one based. I thought both Hans Brase and Peter Miller were very good on the inside with the interior defense.”

Henderson also liked how the Tigers played at the offensive end in the triumph over the Green Wave.

“We are a very good shooting team so I think that’s a big part of what we do but it is not everything,” added Henderson, who got 16 points from Brase in the victory, with Bray adding 12, and Clay Wilson chipping in 11.

“When we are at our best, the ball is moving and the guys are cutting. We have got to shoot because the guys can really make them. We had a really nice offensive performance from T.J. [Bray]. I thought there were a couple of huge plays. Clay Wilson came off the bench and gave us a nice lift, making some shots.”

Senior star Bray, who passed the 1,000-point milestone in his career during the Tulane contest, becoming the 30th player in program history to do so, was proud of how Princeton held off a late Tulane run to pull out the victory.

“When teams are making a run you just have to buckle down a little bit,” said Bray. “I wouldn’t call it nerves but just a sense of urgency. I thought we did a pretty good job down the stretch and we were able to come out with the win.”

The win was meaningful for Bray and his classmates as they were determined to extend their careers.

“You only get so many games in a Princeton uniform so if we can keep playing it is awesome,” said Bray, who scored 17 points in the loss to Fresno State in his final Princeton appearance to leave him with 1,024 points and in 29th place on the program’s all-time scoring list. “It was great to get a win here tonight and us seniors just want to keep playing as long as possible.”

Henderson, for his part, had no doubt about the value of another CBI run. “Most importantly, this is about us,” said Henderson. “It is an opportunity for us to get some more practice time and spend some more time together.”

—Bill Alden