The Washington Post

Tigers rally and play Cinderella again


Mitch Henderson’s victory leap that punctuated Princeton’s famed upset over UCLA in 1996 has become an iconic moment. There is a picture of the joyous jump at the school’s practice facility that serves as a constant reminder of what’s possible.

Now Henderson’s current players have produced one of their own.

Ryan Langborg lifted Princeton to its first lead with 2:03 to play, and the 15th-seeded Tigers used a late-game run to earn their first NCAA tournament win in 25 years, topping No. 2 seed Arizona, 59-55, on Thursday in Sacramento.

“Pretty surreal feeling,” guard Matt Allocco said. “To beat a great team like that on this stage is a pretty special feeling. But also I can’t say I’m surprised. This team has been so good all year, so gritty. On paper, it’s going to look like a big upset. But we believe in each other, and we think we’re a really good team. When we’re at our best, then I think we can beat anybody in the country.”

The Tigers (22-9) scored the final nine points, holding the Pac12 tournament champion scoreless over the final 4:43.

Tosan Evbuomwan scored 15 points in Princeton’s first tournament victory since it beat UNLV in 1998 when Henderson was a player for the Tigers.

Henderson also played on the 1996 team that beat defending champion UCLA in the school’s final tournament under coach Pete Carril, who died in August. This victory fittingly came in Sacramento, where Carril spent time as an NBA assistant after retiring as Tigers coach.

“He would be very proud of the group,” Henderson said.

Princeton advanced to play seventh-seeded Missouri.

Azuolas Tubelis scored 21 points for the Wildcats (28-7), who haven’t won a tournament game in consecutiv­e years since 2014-15. It was the third straight year and 11th time overall that a No. 15 seed won a first-round game. Arizona is the only school to be on the wrong end of one of those upsets twice, also losing to Steve Nash and Santa Clara in 1993.

“If you want to be a great player, you want to be a great coach, we all got to learn from this,” Arizona Coach Tommy Lloyd said.

The Wildcats seemed in control of this one when Oumar Ballo’s basket put them up 10 with eight minutes left.

But the Tigers responded with seven straight points to make it 51-48 with about six minutes left.

They closed the game with a 9-0 run — just as they did in their most memorable tournament win against UCLA in 1996.


The Crimson Tide (30-5) buried the 16th-seeded Islanders (24-11) under an early three-point onslaught, and the NCAA tournament’s top seed won easily even with star freshman Brandon Miller going scoreless at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Ala., less than an hour from its campus.

Miller, the all-american who has been beset by questions about his presence at the scene of a fatal shooting, sat out the final 14 minutes and missed all five field goal attempts.

Alabama advanced to play eighth-seeded Maryland.

Nick Pringle scored 17 points and had a season-high 13 rebounds for Alabama.

Trevian Tennyson led the Islanders with 20 points.

SAN DIEGO STATE 63, l CHARLESTON 57: Matt Bradley scored 17 points, including two free throws in the final minute, and the fifth-seeded Aztecs (28-6) held on to beat the 12th-seeded Cougars (31-4) in Orlando.

San Diego State won its first game in the tournament since 2015 — ending a four-game losing streak — and snapped an 11-game skid for the Mountain West Conference.

San Diego State advanced to face 13th-seeded Furman on Saturday.

Ante Brzovic led Charleston with 12 points and eight rebounds.

MISSOURI 76, UTAH STATE 65: The seventh-seeded Tigers used a second-half scoring spurt from Kobe Brown to beat the 10th-seeded Aggies (25-9) in Sacramento and win their first NCAA tournament game in 13 years.

Brown (19 points) hit three three-pointers in a span of just over three minutes to fuel a 13-2 run that turned a two-point deficit into a 62-53 lead.

Missouri advanced to play 15th-seeded Princeton.

 ?? Randall BENTON/ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Tosan Evbuomwan scored 15 points for 15th-seeded Princeton, which scored the final nine points to upset second-seeded Arizona.
Randall BENTON/ASSOCIATED PRESS Tosan Evbuomwan scored 15 points for 15th-seeded Princeton, which scored the final nine points to upset second-seeded Arizona.

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