Buzzer-beater sends Princeton to tourney
Douglas Davis shot Princeton back into the NCAA tournament for the first time in seven years and kept Harvard waiting at least a little bit longer.
Davis hit a leaning jump shot at the buzzer to give the Tigers a wild 63-62 win over Harvard, and the Ivy League’s automatic bid.
”It felt good. It went in.” Davis said. ”I fell on the ground and that was the worst decision I ever made, because everyone just jumped on me.”
The Crimson, who split the regular season title with Princeton, were seeking their first NCAA bid since 1946. Now they have to sweat out selection Sunday to see if they get at-large bid.
Davis had 15 points to lead the Tigers (25-6), who will represent the league for the 24th time in the tournament after overcoming an eight-point second half deficit.
Keith Wright scored 16 points for Harvard (23-6), which still has a chance for an at-large bid.
The game had six lead changes in the final 2:35.
Ian Hummer’s driving basket in the lane gave Princeton a 61-60 lead with 37 seconds left. Harvard chose not to call a timeout and Brandyn Curry found himself open for a driving layup that gave Harvard the lead with 11 seconds left.
Princeton called a timeout with just under 3 seconds left to run their final play.
Davis took the pass, dribbled to his right, made a move to his left to lose Harvard’s Oliver McNally and launched the game-winner from about 14 feet, right in front of the Princeton student section.
The celebration paused for a couple minutes, before the referees confirmed on the monitor that the shot was released in time. It was.
”It was a great feeling,” said Princeton guard Dan Mavraides. ”Doug has an amazing mid-range game and it was an amazing shot. But, I think he makes that seven out of 10 times to be honest.”
Because the Ivy League is the only one in Division I without a postseason tournament, they had to play the tiebreaker to claim the automatic NCAA bid. It was the league’s first tiebreaker since 2002.
”We’re certainly heartbroken and devastated, as you can imagine being on the end of that,” said Harvard coach Tommy Amaker. ”But both teams could have felt they deserved to win this basketball game. I think that would be a fair statement.”
Harvard and Princeton split their regular-season meetings. The Tigers won at home 65-61 on Feb. 4, and Harvard beat Princeton 79-67 last weekend to earn a share of the conference title.
The league played the game on Yale’s campus, about 130 miles from each school.
Before the game, Harvard and Princeton students joined in chanting ”Yale sucks!”
The Crimson led 38-30 early in the second half after a pair of baskets from Wright.
But Princeton cut it to 40-38 thanks to Hummer, who had five points during the Tigers’ 8-2 run.
Wright, who did not have a foul in the first half, picked up fourth with just over seven minutes left in the game and Harvard leading 50-46.
Davis hit a long two-pointer and followed that with a 3 to give the Tigers a 51-50 lead.
A 3-pointer by Harvard’s Brandyn Curry tied the game at 55.
Princeton outrebounded the Crimson 36-24, and had 14 offensive boards.
Harvard has never earned even a share of an Ivy title since the league began playing basketball in 1956.
Princeton has now won 26 titles, but it was the first for coach Sydney Johnson, a 1997 graduate who played on two of those championship teams and took over as coach in 2007.
”This is the first time that these guys get to go to the NCAA tournament, and it’s a very special moment for us,” Johnson said.
Princeton came in with a 126-39 record against Harvard, including five in a row, before the Crimson’s win a week ago.
The Ivy League has never sent two teams to the NCAA tournament in one year, but Harvard is hoping to get an at-large bid in the expanded 68-team field.
”I don’t know how that process works,” Amaker said. ”The powers that be will make those cases and those decisions.”