EVANSVILLE-- In what may have been the toughest weekend slate of any team in the area, Princeton Community dropped their second straight game Saturday when they fell to Evansville Harrison 56-43 at the Ford Center in the fifth game of the River City Showcase.
It was missed free throws and missed layups that plagued the Tigers offense. They went 8-19 from the line, while the Warriors made 13-18 from the charity stripe, good for 72 percent. Princeton shot 30 percent from the field, and 17 percent from 3 to make for a tough afternoon all around.
"Hopefully this is the low watermark. I don't know what's happened to us. I never thought there would be a game where we would score this few of points. Again credit to Harrison, they did a nice job defensively. But we can usually sleepwalk to 43 points, we just had trouble throwing it into the ocean tonight," Haywood said.
The Warriors jumped out to a 9-2 lead to open the game, but Princeton was able to cut that to 11-8 to end the opening quarter. Harrison controlled things much of the first half, particularly in the second quarter. Princeton made just five field goals all half, but was still only down 24-15 at the break. Harrison's Mason Bost led all scorers with seven at the half, while Princeton had a balanced effort scoring wise.
"I thought we were uninspired, lethargic. I thought we kind of came out and went through the motions. Give Harrison credit, they were the team that was playing harder. They wanted to win more than I felt like we wanted to. I don't know if it was fatigue, but everybody's played last night and today. I didn't feel like we were very mentally tough early in the game," Haywood said.
Princeton's halftime adjustments worked, as they went into a fullcourt press that for the majority of the second half gave the Warriors problems. Princeton was able to tie the game at 29 with under a minute to go in the third, until a Harrison layup gave them a 31-29 lead heading into the fourth. It was the play inside of both Zach and Matt Dove that sparked the scoring run for the Tigers.
"Well I thought the second half obviously it was our priority to get the ball inside to them. We had the height mismatch over those guys, but they did a good job of walling up and being physical and making it tough on our guys. We just got to do a better job of finishing in close," Haywood said.
The back-and-forth play continued, and Harrison led 36-34 early in the final period. But, Princeton wing Stephan Wilkerson picked up his fourth personal foul with 6:34 to play, and was forced to sit down for a few minutes. The Warriors took advantage, going on a 15-0 run to seal the win.
"We want to be aggressive. But you can't hack and slap, you got to play defense with you feet not your hands. Not just Stephan, but too many times we're getting beat and then we foul trying to slap late or tip from behind or something silly like that," Haywood said.
The free throw shooting from Harrison iced things late, dropping Princeton to 3-2 on the season and 0-2 on the weekend after a Friday night loss to Bosse. Haywood hopes his team uses this as motivation moving forward.
"They're getting ready to get more motivated, or we'll find guys that are. It's not going to be a pleasant few days for them, we're about to getting after it again," Haywood said. "I'm afraid that you know, too many guys drank the poison after a 3-0 start that we're just God's gift to basketball, and I thought we proved this weekend we're far from it."
Bost led all scorers with 19 points for the Warriors, while forward Isaiah Edinburgh chipped in 10 for Harrison. Princeton was led by Matt Dove's 14 points and eight rebounds, while Hunter Carey had 10. Zach Dove finished with eight points and six rebounds for the Tigers.
Princeton will have a week to prepare for it's next opponent Vincennes Lincoln, who they'll welcome to Tiger Arena on Friday at 7 p.m. They will then play Southridge for a game Saturday at 7 p.m. in what should be yet another weekend with high competition. The Alices currently sit at 2-3 while the Raiders are currently 2-1 after falling to Mater Dei in their River City Showcase game Saturday.