Despite a strong performance from the returning Devin Cannady, not much else went right for the Princeton Tigers in a mistake-prone, rough shooting game against Fairleigh Dickinson on Wednesday night at Jadwin Gymnasium.
Mitch Henderson was not a man of excuses after the game.
“We’re struggling, no doubt about it.” said the former Ivy Coach of the Year. “We’ve been a little off everywhere, and it’s been that way in practices.”
“A little off” is a spot on assessment of Princeton’s struggles. Their usual three-point shooting prowess has yet to manifest this season. The Tigers only shot 7-21 from behind the arc last night with four of those coming from star guard Cannady, who made his highly anticipated return from a hamstring injury.
The Tigers (1-2) are left still looking for their first win against a Division I opponent and have yet to patch up the defensive struggles that plagued them all last season. Fairleigh Dickinson (3-1) came out on fire in the second half with an exceptional performance offensively including a blistering 8-15 mark from behind the arc during the final 20 minutes.
Princeton has yet to play at full strength this season. Top-100 freshman Jaelin Llewellyn remains sidelined with a foot injury while guard Jose Morales and Cannady returned to the lineup after barely practicing. Morales appeared to re-aggravate the injury late in the game.
“We need guards,” Henderson said matter of factly. “And we’re down three good ones.”
Devin Cannady’s strong debut has to provide a sense of optimism for Princeton as Llewellyn was on many pre-season lists as a potential freshman of the year within the conference. The senior sharpshooter started 5-5 from the floor including 4-4 from deep. With the addition of Llewellyn, it will give Princeton another playmaker that can generate his own offense.
“It was great,” coach Henderson said about Cannady’s performance. “I thought he played like a senior but he can’t do it by himself. We gotta give him more.”
— Princeton Basketball (@Princeton_Hoops) November 22, 2018
The Tigers failed to provide enough offense to keep up. Myles Stephens (18 points 4 rebounds) was the only other Tiger in double figures as they misfired on all nine of their second-half three-point attempts, leading to a stream of runouts as the Knights pushed the ball in transition after every miscue. Both teams turned the ball over a ton. Yet the faster, more athletic Knights were able to capitalize more efficiently.
FDU’s trio of Jahlil Jenkins, Darnell Edge, and Xzavier Malone-Key paced the Knights offense and ran Princeton ragged in the second half. Edge finished with a career-high 28 points. Malone-Key, a sophomore transfer from Rider, scored all 19 of his points in the second half.
Princeton will look to shore up its defensive struggles and work on getting healthy for their next matchup against the 0-6 Monmouth Hawks on Saturday at 3 pm.