December 4, 2019

After Late Rally Falls Short in Loss to ASU, PU Men’s Hoops Tops Bucknell for 1st Win

BREAKING THROUGH: Princeton University men’s basketball player Richmond Aririguzoh fights to the hoop in recent action. Senior center Aririguzoh had 16 points and pulled down a career-high 18 rebounds in a 67-65 loss to Arizona State on November 26. Four days later, Aririguzoh contributed 15 points and seven rebounds to help Princeton defeat Bucknell 87-77 and earn its first win of the season. The Tigers, now 1-5, play at Drexel on December 4 before hosting Monmouth on December 10. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Richmond Aririguzoh was ready to throw his weight around as the Princeton University men’s basketball team hosted Arizona State last week.

“I know ASU is a physical team; of the five games we have played, they are the fourth team we have played that is very physical, said the 6’9, 230-pound center Aririguzoh who hails from Ewing.

“It has been trial by fire for me, playing against physical bigs. My mentality today was OK, I have to go get them.”

Aririguzoh got the ball a lot against the Sun Devils in the November 26 contest, tallying 16 points and pulling down a career-high 18 rebounds.

“It was just one of those things where I was trying to do everything I could to help my team win,” said Aririguzoh, reflecting on his performance.

Unfortunately, Princeton didn’t pull out a win against ASU, despite a dramatic last-minute rally that saw it overcome a 64-60 deficit on a three-pointer by sophomore Drew Friberg and a sweet bucket in the post by freshman Tosan Evbuomwan only to be foiled when Khalid Thomas nailed a three from the corner with five seconds left to give the Sun Devils a 67-65 win.

While Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson was stung by the defeat, he liked the pluck his squad displayed down the stretch.

“We are obviously really disappointed in the result,” said Henderson, reflecting on Princeton’s fifth straight loss to start the season.

“I am proud of the guys. We were down 64-60 in the toughest of moments and we answered. The kid made a couple of huge shots, that is the way basketball goes.”

Henderson credited Aririguzoh with providing toughness in the paint for the Tigers.

“Richmond had as many rebounds as Mason Rocca from 2000, somebody I played with and one of the best rebounders I have ever seen here,” said Henderson. “I thought he was terrific.”

The Tigers produced some terrific play in the second half, rallying from a 46-39 deficit to go up 53-47 and then producing heroics in the waning moments of the contest, getting the throng of 2,727 at Jadwin Gym buzzing.

“We got down seven, we came back, we grabbed the lead, that is something we haven’t done this season,” said Henderson.

“For the first time this season we played a full game. We got great shots in big moments. We were down and we answered it with a minute left.”

Four days later at Bucknell, Princeton grabbed a 52-50 lead on a lay-up by Aririguzoh with 17:01 left in the second half and never looked back on the way to an 87-77 win as it improved to 1-5. Aririguzoh contributed 15 points and seven rebounds against the Bison with Jaelin Llewellyn and Ryan Schwieger both scoring 17 and Evbuomwan and Jerome Desrosiers each chipping in 10.

Reflecting on how Princeton battled in the ASU loss, Aririguzoh sensed that the Tigers would come through against Bucknell.

“It is the first game for me where I felt like we played 40 minutes,” said Aririguzoh, who will look to keep Princeton on the winning track as it plays at Drexel on December 4 and then hosts Monmouth on December 10.

“I think putting 40 minutes together was a huge step forward for us. With a team on the younger side it is can you do it again and apply what we learned today and bring that same intensity down to Bucknell.”