If you’ve ever been to Princeton’s Jadwin Gym, you’ll notice the spaceship-like appearance that has an almost eerie aura.
Lights illuminate only one half of the enormous structure that doubles up as Princeton’s indoor track and field facility. And somewhat symbolically, Tuesday night only one team played brilliant basketball.
The crisp backdoor cuts, the sneaky off-ball screens and the swarming arms in the paint, first-year coach Mitch Henderson had Princeton playing like a team fighting for its life.
Except they weren’t fighting for an Ivy title. Penn was.
But last week in Princeton, on the last day of the Ancient Eight calendar, the Quakers met the hottest team in the Ivy League.
It may be ironic and even unfair to call Princeton hot given Penn had won seven straight games up to that point.
But watching the Quakers during that run, it never seemed as if they would win anything easily. Two three-point wins against last-place Dartmouth, a comeback job against Harvard and an overtime victory against Columbia made Penn the “Cardiac Quakers.”
The Tigers, on the other hand, had lost to Harvard in Boston just two weeks earlier and Yale in early February. But say what you want, the Tigers were the ones on a roll and last week they shined the brightest.
They got what they needed from their two stars — Douglas Davis knocked two dagger three pointers and Ian Hummer showed why he will be a favorite for Ivy League Player of the Year next year. Combine that with Patrick Saunders, who chipped in 12 points and couldn’t seem to miss, and you had all the makings of a hot team that could do damage in a tournament in March.
And while the Ivy League rewards teams that play well throughout the course of the season, we saw a glimpse of how dangerous a team peaking at the right time could be.
Video from the post-game press conference shows how dejected Penn seniors Rob Belcore and Zack Rosen look.
It was so close.
It was right there for them.
But each time the ball hit the rim, the Quakers’ chance slipped away.
Under night sky as I walked to the car, I was still shaking my head.
It’s not that it wasn’t in the stars for Penn. Princeton was just plain better.
That burns the most.
SUSHAAN MODI is a sophomore international studies and business major from Demarest, N.J., and is Sports Editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. He can be reached at Modi@theDP.com.