For the first 40 minutes of the game, the University of Pennsylvania never trailed. Yet, despite a 10-point lead and a chance to seal the game in the final minute, the Quakers fell victim to the chaos of March Madness.
Princeton forced overtime with a thrilling comeback and narrowly topped Penn, rallying in a 72-64 win at the Palestra in the semifinal of the inaugural Ivy League Tournament.
Sophomore guard Myles Stephens tied the game on a putback layup with just 5.3 seconds left in regulation before handing the Tigers their first lead at the start of overtime. In overtime, Princeton scored the first nine points and stifled the Quakers, sealing the comeback.
Stephens led all scorers with 21 points while freshman Ryan Betley nearly led an upset victory with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
No. 1 seed Princeton had to play a pseudo road game Saturday against the Quakers, who finished just 6-8 in conference play. It was apparent from the opening tip that the crowd was on Penn's side.
In the early second half, Penn extended its lead to 10 points with just 16 minutes to go. From there on out, it was all Tigers. Amir Bell and Stephens led the thrilling comeback, needing just eight minutes to erase the deficit and tie the game at 49.
From there, it was back and forth like a classic Penn-Princeton duel of previous decades. Tied at 57 with under a minute to go, Matt Howard drained a jumper to put Penn ahead. However, after a Princeton miss, Howard missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and Stephens' putback on Bell's miss tied the game and forced overtime.
Bell had 16 points off the bench while Cannady, who went just 1 for 8 from the field, was a perfect 10 for 10 from the free-throw line and had 12 points and 11 rebounds. Howard had 17 points while freshman A.J. Brodeur had a double-double with 10 points and 11 boards for the Quakers.
With the win, Princeton moves to 22-6 while the Quakers finish the season at 13-15 with three losses to the Tigers. Princeton has now won eight straight games against Penn dating back to Jan. 11, 2014.
The Quakers blitzed the Tigers from the start Saturday afternoon. They began the game on a 7-2 run and led for the entire first half. It was a shocking reversal from the two schools' prior meetings in which Penn led for a total of just 3:17 combined during two losses.
Betley was nearly unstoppable for Penn before the break. He made all five of his shots, including two threes, en route to 12 points while grabbing a game-high seven rebounds. Penn stretched its lead to as much as nine, 28-19, before junior guard Amir Bell led a Tigers run before halftime. By the half, Penn led by three, 33-30, while Bell had nine points on just three shots.
This was the 237th meeting between the two programs. Penn leads the all-time series, 124-113. Princeton, however, has won 16 of the last 18 matchups.
Earlier in the day
In the first game of the tournament, Penn women's basketball overcame a challenge from Brown to win, 71-60. The Quakers will face either Harvard or Princeton in the final Sunday afternoon.
• Penn shot just 8 for 27 from three-point range, including just 3 for 17 after halftime. Princeton wasn't much better, going 5 for 18 from deep.
• After eight first-half turnovers, Princeton coughed up the ball just one more time.
• Penn outshot Princeton from the field, 40.6 to 37.5 percent.
By virtue of its win, Princeton advances to the Ivy League Tournament final Sunday at noon, also at the Palestra. The Tigers will play either Harvard or Yale.
Meanwhile, Penn's season is over with the defeat. The Quakers won six of their final nine games.