December 25, 2019

Failing to Extend Winning Streak, Tiger Men’s Hoops Loses to Hofstra

HURT PRIDE: Princeton University men’s basketball player Ryan Schwieger looks for an opening in recent action. Last Thursday against visiting Hofstra, junior forward Schwieger scored 16 points with six assists and five rebounds but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 87-72 to the Pride. The Tigers, now 3-8, are next in action when they host Lehigh on December 29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Bringing its first two-game winning streak of the year into its contest against visiting Hofstra last Thursday evening, the Princeton University men’s basketball team was hoping that it had turned a corner.

Defeating Fairleigh Dickinson 80-65 on December 14 in Hackensack, N.J., and then rallying for a wild 90-86 overtime win over Iona at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on December 17, Princeton was poised to win its first game at Jadwin Gym this season.

But a veteran, well-drilled Hofstra squad had other ideas as it jumped out to a 21-12 lead six minutes into the contest and never looked back on the way to an 87-72 win over the Tigers before a crowd of 1,196 at Jadwin.

Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson acknowledged that his squad took a step backwards.

“That was bad; we were off in every way,” said Henderson, whose team dropped to 3-8 with the setback.

“It is multiple games in a row with 15 turnovers. Hofstra was terrific at every turn. We had no answer for them in terms of energy, toughness. We got outplayed, huge congrats to them, they were terrific. They were very, very good and we were bad.”

While it was a quick turnaround for Princeton from its grueling game in Brooklyn two days earlier, Henderson didn’t believe that hampered the Tigers. “It is just really bad coaching and bad leadership,” lamented Henderson.

“We were throwing the ball away, left and right. It was 11 turnovers from two starters out of 15. It was a bad night for us.”

In the loss to Hofstra, the Tigers continued their bad habit of digging an early hole. “It is a huge issue with starts to games,” said Henderson. “I am disappointed in the toughness.We have seen it in stretches. Now we have to think about that one for a few days.”

Junior forward Ryan Schwieger acknowledged that the Tigers were plagued by uneven play against Hofstra.

“We got punched in the face early; I felt we fought back at times but not for 40 minutes,” said Schwieger,  who scored 16 points with six assists and five rebounds in the loss to the Pride.

“This might have been a wakeup call to go harder in practice and do better. It is tough to fight back from double digits. We put ourselves in a hole.”

When Princeton gets back on the court after the holiday break to prepare for its home game against Lehigh on December 29, it will be looking to be tougher.

“We have got to think about this loss and what we can learn from this,” said Schwieger, a 6’7, 205-pound native of Matthews, N.C.

“Then we have a couple of days to prepare and do something on the 26th and come back and be ready to go.”

Henderson, for his part, is prepared to make some changes. “There is no resting; I have to think hard about who is going to make us win,” said Henderson.

“This is a really disappointing game, really hard to understand. We will work hard at it; we have got some time here to recover.”