GAME NOTES: The Princeton Tigers make the trek to the West Coast for their quarterfinal meeting with the Fresno State Bulldogs in the seventh annual College Basketball Invitational Tournament.
Princeton, which finished in a tie for third place with Columbia in the Ivy League standings this year, slipped by Tulane in the first round of this event back on March 19 by a final score of 56-55. The win was the sixth in a row overall for the program.
Meanwhile the Bulldogs, representatives from the Mountain West Conference, were also locked in a close call of their own in the first game of this event, but managed to captured a 61-56 win against UTEP on the road last week.
As far as the all-time series is concerned, the Tigers have never been beaten by Fresno State as they meet for the fourth time. The most recent clash took place in Fresno back in 2003, as the visitors secured a 72-67 victory.
The winner of this meeting will advance to the semifinals of the tournament against an opponent to be determined.
With quite a bit of youth along the front line of the starting unit, the Tigers were bound to have some struggles against Tulane in the first outing of this tournament, yet even with Spencer Weisz, Will Barrett and Steven Cook combining to shoot only 3-of-16 from the floor, Princeton still had enough to come back for the win. Shouldering the load for the visitors were Hans Brase with 16 points, T.J. Bray 12 and nine assists, followed by reserve Clay Wilson with 11 points as he knocked down 3-of-5 shots behind the 3-point line.
Bray, a starter in 23 of the 25 games in which he has appeared, is shooting not only 54.5 percent from the floor, but also 41.7 percent behind the 3-point line as he produces a team-best 18.0 ppg. But more than just scoring the ball himself, Bray is more than willing to share the spotlight with teammates, resulting in 129 assists. Brase (11.0 ppg) and Barrett (10.4 ppg) have reaped the benefits of having Bray play unselfishly.
In a game that featured nine ties and 10 lead changes, the Bulldogs clamped down on defense when they needed to most, holding UTEP to only 35.3 percent shooting from the field and 3-of-11 behind the 3-point line, en route to the road win last week. Cezar Guerrero scored a game-high 19 points and added 10 rebounds, not to mention five assists for FSU. Marvelle Harris pitched in with 14 points, shooting a perfect 3-of-3 behind the 3-point line. Making the win even more remarkable was the fact that Alex Davis was held scoreless in just 20 minutes of action before fouling out.
Johnson continues to be the primary focus for the Bulldogs as he leads the group in both scoring (15.7 ppg) and rebounding (7.4 rpg), not to mention placing second on the unit with 91 assists over 30 appearances as well. Harris checks in with 14.8 ppg, while Guerrero (12.8 ppg) is generally thought of as a passer out on the perimeter with 127 dishes and not so much someone in the paint who can lend a hand, but after the first game in the tournament Princeton may have to rethink that notion.
Making the trip all the way across the country is by no means an easy trek and it will take something out of the Tigers for sure. Being young in a pressure- filled game will also be an aspect of the meeting that will work against the visitors.
Game Date and Time