Following road win against Harvard, men’s basketball falls to Princeton despite Cornish’s 31-point performance
Untimely turnovers down the stretch sent the game to overtime, in which the Tigers prevailed
Up 76-72 with 1:11 remaining, history was on the minds of the Big Green basketball team. Better yet, it seemed history was about to be made.
Fresh off road wins against Yale University on Jan. 6 and Harvard University on Monday, Dartmouth was 71 seconds away from winning each of its away games against Yale, Harvard and Princeton University for the first time since the 1939-1940 season. The Big Green, holding third place in the conference, was also about to beat Princeton on the road for the first time since 2009.
“We definitely knew that we hadn’t beaten them in forever,” Ryan Cornish ’25 said. “We also were thinking about last year, how they beat us by like 40, so it really meant a lot.”
Possessing the ball on an inbound, the Big Green needed only to get the ball in bounds and run the clock to zero to achieve that coveted victory.
Instead, Brandon Mitchell-Day ’26 delivered an inbound pass into the hands of a waiting Princeton Tiger. Two quick passes later, Princeton had found a wide open shot behind the arc, cutting the Dartmouth lead down to one.
When Princeton committed an offensive foul with 31.4 seconds remaining, it seemed the Big Green had escaped the scare — just the shot clock and some change remained.
But as Cornish meandered up the court following a successful inbound, Princeton’s press defense seemed to fluster him. Cornish appeared to force his first pass, and the ball was stolen, but the Big Green was bailed out when Princeton committed yet another offensive foul.
With 10.8 seconds remaining, the Big Green victory now seemed certain. But when Robert McRae’s ’24 inbound was stolen — Dartmouth’s third turnover in just 19 seconds — this time it was the Big Green that committed a foul; Princeton converted one of its two ensuing free throws to send the game to overtime.
“We got multiple stops within the last minute of the game — we just couldn’t take care of the ball,” Cornish said. “So we got to just be better that way, taking care of the ball down the stretch and getting free throws.”
Having somehow managed to tie the game up at 76-76, the Tigers held their ground in overtime, scoring on its first three possessions and leading nearly the entire five minutes to eventually win the game 93-90.
“It’s a tough loss because we were in a position to win the game,” men’s basketball head coach David McLaughlin said. “Credit to Princeton, who made some plays down the end to secure overtime and get the victory.”
Dame Adelekun ’23, who had scored more than 10 points in 10 of his last 11 games, had a frustrating night, scoring only six points and fouling out with 1:11 remaining in regulation — the first domino to fall in the Big Green’s chaotic undoing.
“It was a frustrating one,” Adelekun said. “I feel like we should have won that game, but I guess we got to give props to Princeton. They executed better down the line, and they did what it took to win the game.”
Surprisingly, Cornish’s 31-point, career-high night wasn't enough for his team, which saw 72 of its 90 points come from a trifecta of Cornish, Dusan Neskovic ’24 with 24 points and Mitchell-Day with 17 points.
“I just really think they’re all starting to figure it out,” Adelekun said of his teammates’ performances. “Everybody has sort of found where they can attack…the ability to kick out, putting Cornish [outside] and a lot more ball screens and [Neskovic] to post up more I feel like has been really effective.”
For Cornish, it was a record-breaking night — but not the record that the team wanted.
“I think it was just one of those nights where shots were falling,” Cornish said. “My teammates kind of recognized that I had a hot hand and kept going to me, hooking me up.”
In the early going, when Dartmouth went up 7-2 and then 17-8, it looked like the game could be a repeat of the one in Cambridge, in which Dartmouth held the lead the entire game before squeaking out a one-point win.
But Princeton, led by last season’s Ivy League Player of the Year, wouldn’t let the Big Green go that easily. As soon as Dartmouth extended its lead to nine, the tides turned and the Tigers went on a 15-2 scoring run to go up 23-19.
But a few minutes later Cornish would put up five points of his own, thanks to a three and then a steal and dunk to push Dartmouth back in front, 30-28, with 4:54 left in the half.
The score would go back and forth from there, but Princeton entered halftime up 43-40.
Princeton would score the first basket of the second half, but the Big Green went on a 14-2 scoring run to go up 54-47. From there, Dartmouth maintained a lead all the way until 8:29, when the Tigers regained the lead on two successful free throws.
Dartmouth would not trail for the rest of regulation, witnessing multiple ties until a Mithcell-Day three-pointer put Dartmouth up 76-71 with 2:00 left. Princeton converted a free throw to drive the score to 76-72, and from there fate unraveled.
Despite the frustrating finish, Cornish and the team look ahead with optimism after what has already been a bright season so far.
“The biggest take-home is that we can play with whoever, and we definitely have the confidence to play with each other,” Cornish said.
And with a home crowd for the Big Green’s next four games — starting with Columbia University on Saturday — Adelekun said that he is confident.
“We all just love playing at home,” Adelekun said. “However, I do believe a lot of these teams have a chip on their shoulder and are looking forward to playing us to gain the revenge. So we have to both be prepared but feel very ready for these games.