Tigers scratch and claw to finish, but lose to Delano

Princeton closed their deficit with a spirited full-court press by Reilee Schepper (above), but it wasn't enough to overcome Delano on Tuesday
Princeton closed their deficit with a spirited full-court press led by Reilee Schepper (above), but it wasn’t enough to overcome Delano on Tuesday

Down two, Mady Schafer drove baseline and made it all the way to the rim with just five seconds remaining, but her floater was too strong, sailing over the bucket, dropping into Delano hands, and ending what had been an impressive comeback.

Princeton trailed 45-30 with 9:48 remaining, but an intense press and Delano mistakes gave the home team life before eventually falling short, 55-52, on Tuesday.

“I think we played a really good final six minutes,” Princeton coach Erik Jacobs said. “I think the end of the game excites so people tend to pick up the energy.”

The late burst actually looked like it would be enough to at least force overtime. Julia Bjurman hit two clutch free throws to tie the game with 17 seconds remaining, but an ensuing defensive foul put Erin Norling on the line for Delano. She promptly added two points to her 20-plus point night before Schafer’s game-tying attempt.

The late run was forged by a strong Princeton full-court press that kept the ball out of Norling’s hands and made other Delano Tigers try and beat them. Delano continuously turned the ball over, often times not progressing to half-court slowly evaporating the lead. Earlier issues for Princeton, though, proved too much to overcome.

“Probably should have pressed earlier,” Jacobs said.

The game started with 10 turnovers between both teams and just seven combined points in the first five minutes. Four points from Delano and three from Princeton.

“It can be that way sometimes. Shoot it before you turn it over,” Jacobs said.

Play would clean up a bit and both teams deadlocked at 16, until the visitors launched into an 8-0 run and Princeton went cold, including a scoreless first-half from Bjurman, who scored 39 points over the two games prior. By half, the lead bubbled to 29-20.

Coming out of the break, defensive rebounding became an issue and Delano slowly built its lead up to the 15-point threshold before nearly falling.

“[Poor defensive rebounding] has kind of been our theme all year, said Jacobs. “We’re working on it.”

Schafer led the Tigers with 15 points and Sierra Mattson added 13 off the bench.

Princeton will try to get back to .500 at St. Cloud Tech this Friday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m.