Green Wave end season in loss to Princeton

Oliver Grigg, Print Sports Editor

Tulane men’s basketball’s comeback to a 14-point deficit fell short, as it lost 56-55 against Princeton Wednesday night at Devlin Fieldhouse in the opening round of the College Basketball Invitational.

Freshman guard Jonathan Stark led a resurgent second-half effort and hit a long fadeaway three-pointer to cut Princeton’s lead to four with 21.3 seconds left to play. The Green Wave ran out of time, though, as Stark connected on a half-court heave as time expired. Tulane lost by a single point.

“The point guard’s job is to get the win and lead us in the mental toughness department and resiliency,” head coach Ed Conroy said. “I give [Stark] a lot of credit. He certainly came up big at the end.”

Tulane tied Princeton at 15 points with 9:22 remaining in the first half, but did not lead once during the game.

The Green Wave played without sophomore guard Louis Dabney, who injured his back against Tulsa on March 13 in El Paso, Texas.

“After the game against Tulsa, everybody felt confident that [Dabney] would be able to go [tonight],” Conroy said. “Every day we thought he was going to be ready to go, but it was just that the muscles didn’t respond as quickly as we hoped they would.”

Dabney’s presence was missed, but Stark said the team worked hard to fill the void.

“[Dabney] is the heart of this team,” Stark said. “He’s our captain, but I feel like everybody stepped up and contributed.”

The Green Wave held Princeton to 21-49 shooting (42.9 percent) from the field, and 6-19 (31.6 percent) on three-point shots, but struggled with Princeton’s active defense in the first half. Tulane hit just 19 of its 48 shots (39.6 percent) from the field, including 5-19 on three-pointers, and committed 16 turnovers.

The Green Wave struggled to put together a consistent offensive attack, as Princeton’s defensive activity and pressure created turnovers and bad shots. 

“We were at point-blank range, and either tried to make the shot too hard or just didn’t take the easy shot,” Conroy said.

Tulane forced 11 turnovers in the game but struggled to defend Princeton forward Hans Brase, who finished with 16 points and took advantage of Tulane’s weak interior defense in the first half. Princeton scored 30 of its 56 points in the paint.

Tulane entered the half trailing 29-23, and could not slow Princeton’s shooting in the second half. Princeton opened a 14-point lead with 10:17 remaining in the second half, and was able to fight off Tulane’s resurgent effort en route to a victory.

“We didn’t get any big [defensive] stops toward the end [of the game],” Stark said. “But, we fought hard until the end.”

Freshman guard Jonathan Stark finished with 20 points, and junior guard Jay Hook scored 9 points and added 8 rebounds. Junior forward Tre Drye scored 15 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Freshman forward Josh Hearlihy, rarely used during the regular season, scored 4 points off the bench in the first half.

“I thought [Hearlihy] gave us some [good minutes],” Conroy said. “There were many times we had four freshmen [on the court] and I was proud of the way they tried to fight against a very good basketball team.”

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