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Ivy League Championship recap: Princeton completes unbeaten conference run

The Tigers are dancing.

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

PHILADELPHIA — Princeton completed its perfect run through the Ivy League with an emphatic 71-59 win over Yale, and will enter the NCAA Tournament riding a 19-game winning streak.

This will be the Tigers’ first visit to the Big Dance since 2011, when they narrowly lost in the Round of 64 to a Kentucky team that advanced to the Final Four.

Tigers guard Myles Stephens posted a career-high 23 points in the win over Yale, leading Yale head coach James Jones to brand him a “silent assassin.”

Stephens demurred when asked why he thought Jones would describe him in that way, saying that his teammates put him in a position to score and win, but Princeton coach Mitch Henderson would not let his sophomore guard off the hook so easily. Henderson cited Stephens’ increase in minutes as one of the biggest factors in Princeton’s

“He brings a lot to the table, and when he’s going we’re good,” Henderson said. “We’re very good.”

Henderson said Stephens is one of the main reasons why Princeton was able to turn its season around after opening the season with back-to-back losses to BYU and Lehigh.

Henderson himself was a four-year player at Princeton, and was part of two teams that went undefeated in conference play. Notably, Henderson’s 1996-97 team ended that regular season on a 19-game winning streak, the same number that the team he coaches now has, thanks to their postseason wins.

Henderson, Stephens, and seniors Spencer Weisz and Stephen Cook all emphasized that Princeton is not happy just to be in the tournament, and is not complacent with the success they’ve had so far.

“We’re hungry. We have goals,” Cook said. “We’ve accomplished two of them and we want to make a push at going deep in the tournament. Being there is not good enough for us.”

Henderson said during his postgame press conference that he felt the Ivy League has represented itself better than any other mid-major conference in the past couple seasons, and the Selection Committee should take that and Princeton’s 19-game win streak into account.

Seeding aside, Princeton is not a team to take lightly. The Tigers have found a variety of ways to win games, and are battle tested. For now, Princeton will savor this win, and wait for its fate to be unveiled Sunday evening.