Published: Fri, March 17, 2017
Sport | By Cecil Buchanan

Princeton Was Almost This March's First Cinderella

Princeton Was Almost This March's First Cinderella

Chris Christie sighting: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie watched the game from behind the Notre Dame bench. But the 12-seed Princeton Tigers couldn't hit their open looks in the final minute and the Irish escaped with an ugly win, 60-58.

"I think the only thing I would say to them is enjoy it", he said. The hometown kid with a shot to beat his hometown team'. Nationally, the Irish would have gained a measure of notoriety as the first victims of an upset in front of a national television audience. They've won a lot of games like this, getting down to the wire, having to get a stop, having to make a free throw, getting the ball inbounds with no timeouts. We're breaking down every first-round game in the field of 68, plus looking ahead at which teams will make the run to the Final Four.

"Not many people get a lot of opportunities to play in the NCAA Tournament. It wasn't the prettiest of games for us, but we found a way to get a win and that's what it's all about".

Senior Spencer Weisz led the Tigers with 15 points, while classmate Steven Cook had 11 and Myles Stephens added 10. Collectively, the Tigers finished 8-for-31 from 3-point range and finished minus-three in rebounding after Notre Dame held a 23-14 edge at halftime. Notre Dame made the second weekend in 2015 by beating Northeastern by three points and Butler by three in overtime. "I was ready to play". The Irish also withstood a poor shooting effort from another senior, Steve Vasturia. They shot just 40 percent from field, hit just four threes and missed an uncharacteristic seven free throws (they are 80 percent from the line on the season). "I think the losses that we had, especially the Tennessee game, really made us better", she said Monday evening moments after the second-ranked Irish (30-3) learned they were the top seed for the Lexington Regional. Princeton then fouled the usually-reliable Matt Farrell, but the Irish junior missed the front-end of a one-and-one to give the Tigers a chance to win it in the final seconds. "We've gottta be up on them and not sunk back in". "Even in our non-league stuff, we've been able to digest a scouting report and an opponent's tendencies offensively and our main guys have been good at talking through it, switching it when we've had to".

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The rest of the first half was a back-and-forth affair as the Tigers tried to claw their way back into the game only to see Notre Dame pull away.

The Irish pulled out to an early 9-3 advantage in the first half off of two 3-pointers by Farrell, but the Tigers answered back to tie the game at 11-11 and take the lead at 17-15. He missed and Devin Cannady - Mishawaka's own - missed a chance at the game-winning 3. Cannady's high-arcing shot looked straight and true but sailed a touch long. "I was just watching it, I was like 'Miss, miss, miss'".

Although the game pit a 12 seed against a 5 seed, a matchup that has produced an upset in 25 of the last 28 years, many experts weren't giving Princeton much of chance at the upset, but the Tigers were almost able to pull off the surprise. Notre Dame led 52-45 and was trying to reestablish control when Farrell threw a wild cross-court pass that sailed out of bounds.

"We're thrilled to survive", Brey said in a CBS interview. That shouldn't happen - the law of averages - but we've been in so many of them, we really believe. And I think in this tournament, this nucleus of guys, just feel like as this thing was getting close, well, that's what we did all past year.

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