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Oh-so-close: Princeton misses its shot against Notre Dame

Devin Cannady thought the shot was going in. With seconds left, trailing by one, the sophomore guard put up a three-pointer. He was sure he was winning the game for Princeton. Only the ball hit iron and bounced away.

And the Tigers saw their season end in a 60-58 loss to Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in KeyBank Center Friday afternoon.

"I got my feet set, ball came in my shot pocket," Cannady said. "I looked at the rim and when the ball left my hand, I thought it was good. It didn't go in and that's what happens when you take those shots. It either does or doesn't. In this it didn't."

The end of the road: Princeton ended its season 23-7. The Tigers had won 19 games in a row, last losing at Monmouth (96-90) Dec. 20. That 19-game winning streak was the second-longest in Division behind Vermont (21).

The 23 victories rank as the sixth most wins in program history and most since the team went 25-7 in 2010-11 -- the last time Princeton made the NCAA Tournament.

It was the last game for a number of seniors  who guided the Tigers to an impressive season.

"I think this year has been amazing for us," senior Steven Cook said. "You know, accomplishing 16-0 in the Ivy League. You know, sort of getting the program back to the NCAA Tournament, back to winning ways and accomplishing everything we set out to do. It's been an amazing season and I've done it with people I consider my family. And you know, it's emotional for it to come to an end, but I'm going to cherish everything I put into it, everything that came up, because I put everything into this program and into these four years."

The Tigers from downtown: Princeton attempted its most three-pointers in an NCAA tournament game with 31. The Tigers previous high was 29 in 2001 against North Carolina. The 31 three-point attempts are tied for seventh-most in KeyBank Center history.

Meanwhile Princeton's eight made three-pointers were one off the program's NCAA tourney record. The Tigers hit nine from long range in a 1998 win over UNLV. Thursday was the fourth time Princeton has hit eight three-pointers in an NCAA Tournament game.

Protecting the Hollywood face: Notre Dame sophomore Rex Pflueger got hit in the head and sustained a cut to the forehead seven minutes into the game. He had to come out but went back in with 4:34 to go. He finished with four points in 28 minutes. But more importantly, Irish coach Mike Brey joked, he saved his good looks.

"I tell you he is a tough kid," Brey said after the game. "We glued him up. We would have stitched any other of our guys but since he’s from L.A. and he’s into Hollywood, we didn’t want to mess his face up. So we glued his head up, cuz he could be a movie star someday. But he’s been tough as nails."

Governor Christie in the house: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was at the game, seated directly behind the Notre Dame bench. Christie and Irish coach Mike Brey are long-time friends. They became close after Brey was named the Delaware head coach in 1995. Christie is a Delaware alumnus and was in private law practice at the time. Christie is a common visitor to Notre Dame games. His daughter, Sarah, is a student manager for Brey.

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