Princeton men’s basketball had one shot to tie and another to win in the closing seconds of its NCAA Tournament opener against Notre Dame March 16. Neither shot fell, and the Fighting Irish survived the Tigers’ upset bid, 60–58.

Pete Miller ’17 tipped in a missed 3-pointer by Steven Cook ’17, cutting the Notre Dame lead to one point with 16 seconds left. The Tigers fouled Notre Dame guard Matt Farrell to stop the clock, and Farrell missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving Princeton a chance to take the final shot.

Amir Bell ’18 found Devin Cannady ’19, the Tigers’ most prolific 3-point shooter, on the left side of the court. Cannady’s high-arcing shot looked straight and true but sailed a touch long. Princeton managed to foul the rebounder, Steve Vasturia, but with 0.4 seconds on the clock, the Tigers had little chance for even a desperation heave after Vasturia made one of two foul shots.

At the postgame press conference, head coach Mitch Henderson ’98 had no complaints about the play that set up Princeton’s final shot. “That shot’s gone in an awful lot for us, Devin’s shot,” he said. “It was the right look for us.”

Cannady sparked Princeton’s second-half comeback with 8:35 left, hitting a 3-pointer, drawing a foul, and making the free throw to cut Notre Dame’s lead to 50-45. Cook also made a key 3-pointer, drawing Princeton to within one, 55–54, with 3:20 left.

Spencer Weisz ’17, the Ivy League Player of the Year, led the Tigers with 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting. He added four assists, five rebounds, and two blocks while playing all 40 minutes.

Devin Cannady ’19 in first-half action against Notre Dame
Beverly Schaefer
Notre Dame forward Bonzie Colson caused the most headaches for Princeton, leading the Fighting Irish with 18 points and seven rebounds. But the Tigers managed the pace of the game and held their own in the paint, nearly matching the Fighting Irish in rebounds. They kept Notre Dame well below its season average of 78 points per game.

The Tigers finished the year with a 23–7 record, including a perfect 16–0 mark in Ivy regular-season and tournament games. While Princeton was the preseason Ivy favorite, those projections were made before seniors Hans Brase and Henry Caruso went down with season-ending injuries. In their absence, Weisz, Cook, and Miller carried an even larger share of the team’s leadership, guiding the Tigers through several tight finishes, including an overtime win over Penn in the Ivy Tournament semifinals. 

Henderson said that the seniors “made us a championship team again, and we’re thankful for that.”

An earlier version of this story was published online March 16, 2017.