February 19, 2020

Rebounding From Lopsided Defeat to Yale, PU Men’s Hoops Tops Brown, Back Atop Ivies

BEARING DOWN: Princeton University men’s basketball player Tosan Evboumwan looks to make a move in recent action. Last Friday, freshman forward Evboumwan scored a team-high 11 points in a losing cause as Princeton fell 88-64 to Yale. Evboumwan and the Tigers bounced back on Saturday as Princeton defeated Brown 73-54 to improve to 11-10 overall and 6-2 Ivy League. The Tigers, who are tied atop the Ivy standings with Yale after the win over the Bears, play at Harvard on February 21 and at Dartmouth on February 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Tosan Evboumwan got the weekend off to a good start for the Princeton University men’s basketball team as it hosted Yale last Friday evening in a battle of Ivy League leaders.

The freshman forward hit a couple of lay-ups to give Princeton a 4-2 lead.

“We were just going inside like we normally try to do,” said Evboumwan, a 6’7, 209-pound native of Newcastle, England. “We try to go from inside out; that was what we did to start.”

Evboumwan’s buckets turned out to be the high water mark for the Tigers as Yale responded with a 7-0 run to grab a 9-4 lead and never looked back on the way to routing Princeton 88-64 before a crowd of 2,163 at Jadwin Gym.

Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson didn’t mince words in assessing the rout.

“The stat sheet doesn’t matter, that was an old-fashioned destruction,” said Henderson.

“They kicked our butts bad; credit goes to Yale, there is lots of respect there. We really got humbled there.”

Henderson acknowledged that the Tigers never came close to recovering from the early deficit.

“They played really well, they made their first four or five shots,” said Henderson.

“We were not playing well and we got down five and then it got away. I would like to say these things happen but we haven’t had a game like this in years. We just got rolled. We had no answers.”

The play of Evboumwan, who had a team-high 11 points, was a bright spot for Princeton on a dreary night.

“He was great, he was unafraid,” said Henderson of Evboumwan. “He got the first basket of the game. He was playing against a senior [Jordan] Bruner, who is a terrific player. That is good, we are going to need him.”

For Evboumwan, becoming a good player in the college level has been an ongoing process.

“The pace of the game, the physicality, things like that,” said Evboumwan, when asked about the biggest challenges he has faced in a freshman campaign that has seen him work his way into the Tiger starting five, averaging 4.8 points and 1.9 rebounds a game.

“I have been adjusting well with massive help from my teammates and coaching staff.

Looking ahead to the Brown game on Saturday, Henderson was glad that the Tigers didn’t have time to stew over the Yale loss.

“Thank god we get to play tomorrow,” said Henderson. “They are different from this but they are the best rebounding team in the league. We really didn’t do a good job on the boards tonight. They are fast.”

A night later the Tigers did a much better job, getting off to a fast start, building a 37-24 halftime lead on the way to a 73-54 win as it improved to 11-10 overall and 6-2 Ivy League.

“I felt we were focused, it was a really good win,” said Henderson in assessing the victory over the Bears. “Until the ball goes up, you really don’t know what is going to happen.”

Henderson sensed good things would happen against Brown based on a conversation he had with senior star and team captain Richmond Aririguzoh.

“I talked to Richmond last night on the phone,” recalled Henderson. “He said we have to be more determined and generally that is enough. He just says what we need to do and we do it.”

That determination showed up on the defensive end as Princeton held Brown to 36.2 percent shooting from the floor (21-for-58).

“Our defense was good tonight,” said Henderson. “We have had a couple of really bad defensive outings in a row. Tonight was much better.”

Ethan Wright was very good offensively for Princeton, hitting on 9-of-10 shots on his way to a career-high 21 points.

“He is putting us on his back, I thought he was terrific,” said Henderson. “He has the choir boy good looks but he has got a little sass in him.”

Ending the weekend on a high note was critical for the Tigers, who are tied atop the Ivy standings with Yale (18-6 overall, 6-2 Ivy), and head to New England this weekend to play at Harvard (16-7 overall, 5-3 Ivy) on February 21 and at Dartmouth (9-14 overall, 2-6 Ivy) on February 22.

“It is a really fun group to coach, that is why last night was so disappointing,” said Henderson.

“I am glad to see us get this one, we needed it. I would love to have a little better record but I would have taken this. We have got four in a row on the road. The regular season finishes in three weeks so here it comes. I always say if you are walking out of this gym and it is still light out, you are playing good basketball.”