Devin Cannady led all scorers with 23 points, including two threes in final seconds of regulation, as Princeton picked up 88-83 road win over Columbia. (Photo courtesy of the Ivy League Digital Network)
NEW YORK -- The only thing missing from an Ivy League matchup straight out of "The Wizard Of Oz" was a bear.
After all, Columbia and Princeton provided the respective Lions and Tigers, and the ending to their Saturday night showdown produced several moments where the legendary Dick Enberg would have broken into his signature call of "oh, my!"
Down eight points at the four-minute media timeout in the second half, Princeton (16-5, 6-1 Ivy League) got eight points from freshman guard Devin Cannady in the final 25 seconds to send Columbia to overtime. Then, after spotting them a 7-0 head start in the extra session, the Tigers scored the final twelve markers of the night to leave Levien Gymnasium with an 88-83 victory over a Columbia (17-8, 6-2 Ivy) team that entered the evening with realistic NCAA Tournament aspirations, only trailing first-place Yale by one game at tipoff.
"What ran through my mind was a replay of the Penn game," said Cannady, who led all scorers with 23 points. "We were down 11 with not so much time left, and our leaders got us together. We persevered and started playing better on defense, and that really helped us."
Having led for all but three minutes on their home floor in front of a near-capacity crowd, Columbia looked every bit the aggressor and played a fundamentally sound first half, not committing a single turnover. Late in the second half, however, the Tigers started to press the Lions, which flustered them enough to lose their grip on a two-possession lead.
"They went small, and we were having trouble guarding (Alex) Rosenberg," said Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson of switching to the press. "I thought it was smarter for us to go a little bit smaller, and it paid off for us. We were able to get a couple of key turnovers."
Trailing 74-70, Cannady's first of two threes came from the right corner with 10.2 seconds left, bringing the Tigers within one. On the ensuing possession, Princeton elected not to foul Columbia, who got a breakaway layup from Maodo Lo to make it a three-point game. Cannady proved lethal again, draining an NBA-range triple from the right wing shortly before the buzzer to tie the score at 76 apiece. Columbia's desperation heave was errant, sending the game to an extra five minutes.
"We were just trying to get to the bucket," Cannady said as he recounted his heroics. "I think Columbia knew that, so they backed off. I shot my shot, and it went in."
The Lions struck first in overtime, opening the extra frame on a 7-0 run behind six points from Grant Mullins, who recorded 19 points and 12 rebounds for the evening. However, they were held scoreless for the final 2:12, as a floater by Cannady started Princeton's deciding run.
"We wanted it bad," a succinct Kyle Smith stated as his Lions now entertain Harvard and Dartmouth next weekend as they continue their four-game homestand. "We just didn't get it done tonight."