Bowen Hardman, Kahlil Davis lead Princeton past Hamilton, 65-51

CINCINNATI, Ohio — 275 Hoops took in a Greater Miami Conference showdown on Friday night between Princeton (12-5, 8-4) and Hamilton (11-5, 7-4) in Viking Country. In the last meeting between the two programs, it was the Big Blue that walked away victorious thanks to a 26 point outing from senior forward Trey Robinson. However, the Vikings had different ideas on Friday night.

Unfortunately for Princeton, they would have to attempt to pull this one off with two big pieces not available. Senior guard DeAirius Barker –who still isn’t getting nearly enough attention on the recruiting trail — was out with an ankle injury. They were also without senior forward Sterling Berkhalter (10.8 points, 4.7 rebounds) as he was on a football visit to the Naval Academy. Not to be forgotten, Hamilton was also without senior guard Ke’von Burnett, an occasional starter for Head Coach Kevin Higgins.

The Big Blue actually got off to a fine start in this one as Trey Robinson, a Northern Kentucky signee, got going quickly. The 6-foot-6 forward drilled a couple of shots from distance and added two free throws to push his total to eight points in the first frame. The big start for Robinson gave Hamilton an early 14-11 lead over the Vikings after the first.

The two teams mostly went back and forth in the second stanza. Princeton would go on to tie things up at the break as they got some production across the board in the second. Senior guard Kahlil Davis, University of the Cumberland’s signee, led the way in the period with a couple of baskets inside including a smooth euro-step finish that froze his defender. Despite the Vikings being able to tie things up at 21, the Big Blue did get the last laugh of the half when junior forward Malik Verdon dropped in a layup at the buzzer. This came just one play after Hamilton’s Trey Robinson had to come out of the game with a head injury after a scary fall.

The good news was that Robinson was out with his team during the second half warm-ups and was ready to go in the third period. Robinson actually had his highest scoring quarter of the night after returning from injury. The GMC’s second highest scorer dropped in 11 points in the frame as his aggressiveness was rewarded with two buckets inside and seven trips to the free throw line that he successfully delivered on. Unfortunately for the Big Blue, sophomore guard Bowen Hardman drilled two triples from the left corner and a long two point jumper in the period. His eight points combined with Kahlil Davis’ five points would ultimately push them ahead of Hamilton. With just one period to go, the Vikings were leading the Big Blue, 40-34.

In the final stanza, Hamilton went to their three leading scorers to try and get them back in this game. Trey Robinson added another eight points. They also got their best quarter of the night from senior guard Kristian Walton (6 points) and Jackson Lewis pitched in with a corner triple. However, it wasn’t enough on this night. The Vikings put together a big period where they scored 25 points. Leading the way in the period was senior guard Jamal Walker with seven points. Additionally, Hardman scored scored six points and three others — Kahlil Davis, Greg Johnson, and Jaheim Thomas — added four for Princeton as they slammed the door shut in this one. The Vikings went on to win by a final count of 65-51 and now move to 8-4 in the conference and 13-5 overall.

In the victory, Princeton was led by Bowen Hardman (19 points) and Kahlil Davis (15 points), who combined for 34 points on the night. Junior guard Greg Johnson was also in double figures in the win as he finished with 12 points. It was just the third game this season that Johnson finished with over 10 points.

As for Hamilton, Trey Robinson had a game high 27 points despite the loss. That means it was the fifth time this year that Robinson dropped 25+ points in a contest. Malik Verdon and Kristian Walton added eight points a piece with the latter securing seven rebounds as well.

Next up for Princeton is a home contest against Sycamore, a team that they defeated 66-50 earlier this season. Hamilton is back in action tonight as they hit the road to face off against a Southwest Ohio Conference program in Harrison.

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