PRINCETON — Rutgers enjoyed a rarity in its long running in-state rivalry when it won at Princeton for just the 16th time in 60 games.
“Wow, that’s a lot of history to go against,” said coach Mike Rice after Eli Carter came off the bench for 22 points to lead Rutgers to a 58-52 win over the Tigers Friday night.
“We’re just trying to change things, and this means we’re changing things” Carter said. “Getting wins on the road is nice, and to get a win here at Princeton, it’s a good win.”
Austin Johnson, who scored five of his seven points when Princeton put the game away, feels that the victory can have a far-reaching effect.
“This was big for this program for years to come,” Johnson said. “I felt like they had our number. Now that we know what works we’ll be able to capitalize and emulate it every year we play them.”
Myles Mack added 16 points for the Scarlet Knights (2-1), who snapped a two-game losing streak to the Tigers but still trail the series 74-45.
Princeton (1-2), coming off a loss to Northeastern in which it blew an 18-point lead, got 13 points from Will Barrett and 10 points and six assists from Ian Hummer.
But Hummer, who had big performances in the Tigers previous wins over Rutgers, was never really a factor as foul trouble limited him.
“He’s not going to beat me for a third time,” Rice said. “He needs to score for them so we were attacking him on defense. That made him defend and got him in foul trouble.”
The Knights took the lead with under eight minutes remaining in the first half and never relinquished it. Trailing by six at halftime, the Tigers got within 37-36 but a Carter jumper started a 6-0 Rutgers run and Princeton never got closer than three again.
Led by seven rebounds each from Wally Judge and Kadeem Jack, Rutgers held a 42-24 advantage on the boards.
Princeton took leads of 12-3 and 18-12 as Rutgers missed nine of its first 11 shots. Mack’s three-point play started a 9-0 run for a 21-18 Rutgers lead and the Scarlet Knights built a 33-27 halftime advantage.
Carter scored 11 of Rutgers final 12 points in the half, hitting three 3-pointers in that span. The sophomore guard shot 5-for-6 and had 16 points in 14 minutes.
“He was everything for them, we couldn’t stop him,” Princeton coach Mitch Henderson said. “I don’t think he had a basket around the rim.”
“He’s so quick, you never know what he’s going to do,” Hummer said. “He’s got a quick jumper, a quick release. He made us pay when we made mistakes.”
It marked the second straight game Carter came off the bench after a tough shooting night in Rutgers opener. He shot 6-for-9, 4-for-6 from 3-point range and 6-for-6 from the foul line.
“I have the same mindset whether I start or not,” Carter said. “I just try to help out my teammates.” Princeton’s last chance came when it pulled within 50-46 with 5:48 remaining. Johnson then scored five points in a 7-1 run as Princeton opened a 57-49 lead with 1:12 left. Johnson’s biggest play came when he put back a missed shot, got fouled and converted the three-point play to make it 55-47.
“It was a smaller guy next to me so I knew I had an opportunity to wedge him in,” Johnson said. “I saw the shot go up and I just wanted to get the best position I could. I just wanted to get the rebound and make a play for my team.”
The Tigers shot just 31.9 percent (15-for-47) while Rutgers was slightly better at 39.5 percent (17-for-43).