PRINCETON, N.J. - Columbia gave Ivy League-leading Princeton all it could handle, leading 50-44 with seven minutes to play, but the Tigers' Dan Mavraides scored 14 points in the final seven minutes to lift Princeton to a 66-61 win over Columbia at Jadwin Gymnasium. The Lions, who led 24-23 at halftime, got 21 points from Noruwa Agho, while Brian Barbour added 18 points in the gritty effort.
Columbia got off to a hot start as Agho and Barbour combined for 12 points early to give the Lions a 12-4 advantage. Princeton came back to take a 21-17 lead but the Lions finished the half on a 7-2 run to lead by a point at intermission.
Trailing 38-33 after a Princeton run to start the second half, Columbia went with a small lineup of Asenso Ampim and Matt Johnson up front and that lineup sparked an 8-0 Lions' run, capped by a Johnson runner in the lane with 10 minutes left after a nice feed by Barbour.
Columbia took a 46-40 lead, its largest since early in the first half, on a Johnson trifecta with 8:53 to play. After Princeton responded with four points by Mack Darrow, Agho buried a long jumper as the shot clock was winding down, then found Ampim down low for a basket that made it 50-44 with seven minutes to play.
With Columbia ahead 50-46 with 6:15 to play, Mavraides began to take over. He made two free throws, then converted a layup after a Columbia turnover that tied the game at 50.
After Ampim made one of two free throws to give the lead back to Columbia, Princeton's Kareem Maddox made both of his foul shots as Princeton regained a 52-51 advantage.
Barbour answered with a tough, driving layup to give the Lions a 53-52 lead with 4:25 to play but Mavraides got to the foul line, made two free throws, then buried a three-pointer on the next Princeton possession that put the Tigers up by four, 57-53.
Columbia still trailed by just a point, 57-56, when Agho made two of two from the stripe with 1:59 to play. On the other end, Mavraides nailed another triple with a hand in his face to push the Tigers' lead back to four.
Two free throws by Barbour got the Lions back to within two points but Mavraides drew the defense on the next possession and found Ian Hummer underneath to make it a 62-58 game, ultimately ending Columbia's upset bid.
"I told them I'm proud of them," head coach Kyle Smith said when asked what he told the team after the game. "We competed hard. [Mavraides] made some big plays on their senior night. Hats off to them, they made some big-time shots."
Maddox, another Princeton senior, led his team with 20 points, while his classmate Mavraides scored all of his 14 points in the final 6:15.
Agho's 21 led all scorers and the Columbia junior added four assists with just one turnover. Barbour finished with 18 on 6-of-10 shooting and Ampim was just shy of a double-double with nine points and a career-high 15 rebounds.
"I thought we played hard," Agho said after the game. "We just couldn't get that stop at the end. I was proud of how we played."
The Lions will be back in action on Friday, March 4 against Yale at Levien Gymnasium at 7 p.m.
Princeton vaulted back into first place in the Ivy League with the win, combined with Yale's 70-69 win over Harvard in New Haven on Saturday night ... Columbia held its opponent under 70 points for the fifth straight game ... despite a height disadvantage for much of the second half, Columbia still outrebounded Princeton 35-33 and 10-8 on the offensive glass ... Zack Crimmins made all four of his shots from the field and scored eight points in eight minutes.