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Princeton shuts down Hawaii at the Pearl Harbor Invitational

A defensive fortress was built, Cook was in rhythm, and the Tigers grabbed a win before leaving the island.

NCAA Basketball: Princeton at VCU Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

After being competitive but falling short on day one of the Pearl Harbor Invitational, Princeton and Hawaii came into Bloch Arena Wednesday night hoping to not be that team who would end the event winless.

Princeton was clicking on all cylinders from the start and coasted to a 75-62 win over the Rainbow Warriors.

Here were the keys to Princeton’s victory:

1. The Tigers’ half-court team defense was a work of art

Princeton made it difficult for Hawaii to find any rhythm in its offensive sets with constant defensive activity, toughness, and man-to-man principles. The Tigers doubled the pick-and-roll, making it virtually impossible for Hawaii to attack the paint and get good shots. Hawaii became a jump-shooting and even the majority of those shots were contested. The Tigers put together a disciplined, help-and-recovery, quick-rotating, full-team defensive effort.

2. The Princeton offense was on full display

The ball movement, complete with precise basket cuts and finding the open man, created open looks for the Tigers all night. Hawaii did a poor job of staying connected to shooters, as Princeton shoot 41.7 percent from three-point range. Overall it was an efficient night on offense for the Tigers, forcing the game to be played at their pace.

3. Steven Cook lets his offensive repertoire shine

Steven Cook led the charge offensively for Princeton, setting the tone early and often. He shot it from deep, used the mid-range, and played with his back to basket -- all while staying efficient and in their system. He finished with 21 points on 7-14 shooting and was 5-7 behind the three-point line.

4. Senior leadership re-focused the unit after a slow second-half start

Hawaii made its half-time adjustments and entered the 2nd half playing with more purpose, energy, and execution. They would get the lead to single digits five minutes into the half. From that moment, the composure of the Tigers seniors — Steven Cook, Henry Caruso, and Spencer Weisz — settled the team back into playing its brand of basketball.

This win for the Tigers gives them momentum moving forward as Ivy League play creeps closer. If they can continue with a commitment to halfcourt execution on both ends, they just pull off a win over Monmouth or Saint Joseph’s. It was a rough start to the season for Princeton, but the Tigers are showing signs of life.