Trivia question: When Bill Bradley broke the school record for points in a game, whose record did he break?
TigerBlog will get to the answer eventually. First, a history lesson.
The first season for Princeton men's basketball was 1900-01, a 7-5 season that saw the Tigers defeat teams like New Jersey State Schools, Newark Academy and the Deaf and Dumb Institute, as well as teams like Columbia, Harvard and Drexel. Princeton also split with Lafayette that season.
The highest single-game point total in those 12 games was 14, which H. William Pall put up in a 38-21 win over Columbia. That game also marked the highest point total of the season; in no other game did Princeton or its opponent score more than 24.
By the next season, though, Pall's school record of 12 points in a game vanished, as William McCoy went off for 30 in a 66-17 win over Newark Academy. Who knows what rules of running up the score existed back in the first decade of Dr. Naismith's game?
McCoy's record stood for 31 years, until Lank Seibert scored 31 on Dec. 10, 1932, in a 69-24 win over Ursinus. During the 31 years that McCoy's 30-point game stood up, no player scored more than 25 in a game and there were fewer than 10 20-point individual efforts.
Ol' Lank got to keep the record for more than 20 years, until Bud Haabestad put up 32 against Colgate on Feb. 4, 1953, and then 33 on Dec. 17, 1955, against Michigan State in a game played at the Palestra. Haabestad would become Princeton's first 1,000-point scorer; his 1,292 points still rank eighth all-time in school history.
Fred Perkins scored 644 points during his injury-plagued career before graduating in 1958, but he did manage to become the first player in Princeton history to score 35 in a game when he did so on Dec. 19, 1957, at Rutgers.
And Perkins' record? Well, he did get to hold onto it for five seasons, until Bradley began to destroy the Princeton record book.
It actually took Bradley 14 games to break the record, which he set at 37 on Jan. 19, 1963, at Cornell (Princeton actually lost that game 73-67).
Since Perkins first did it in 1957, Princeton has had 28 games in which a player has scored at least 35 points. Of those 28 games, 20 of them were courtesy of Bradley, who also is the only player to reach 40 points in a game, something he did a startling 11 times. He also reached 50 twice, including the school record of 58 against Wichita State in his final game, the 1965 NCAA consolation game.
As an aside, that 58-point performance outburst remains the record for an NCAA Final Four game.
Of the other eight 35-point performances, three were by Brian Taylor (39 points against Rutgers and Kentucky; 36 against Cornell) and two were by Geoff Petrie (39 vs. Fordham; 35 against Davidson). Taylor's two 39-point games came 17 days apart in 1971, while Petrie's two big games came back-to-back on Jan. 24 and Jan. 26, 1970.
So, if TigerBlog gets the math right, that means 20 by Bradley plus three by Taylor plus two by Petrie equals 25 of the 28 35-or-more games. Perkins had his, which leaves two others.
One was Kevin (Moon) Mullin's 38-point day against San Diego in the 1984 NCAA preliminary round game at the Palestra. That game was part of a doubleheader; the other game saw future Knick Johnny Neumann score 30 as Richmond thumped Rider.
And the last remaining game? That one came courtesy of Noah Savage, who scored 35 against Brown in 2008 at Jadwin.
On the women's side, there have been three games in which a player has scored at least 35 points. The women's record is 38, set on Jan. 14, 1985, by Ellen DeVoe against LIU. DeVoe ranks seventh all-time at Princeton with 1,290 career points.
The other two games were 35-point outings by the two players who rank 1-2 in career scoring, Sandi Bittler and Meagan Cowher.
Of the 28 games in which a Princeton men's player scored at least 35 points, Savage's is the only one TigerBlog has seen in person.
TigerBlog, in fact, doesn't remember too many 30+ games that he's seen. Rick Hielscher did it against Dartmouth in 1995, with a 34-point night on 16 of 20 shooting. TB remembers Pete Carril's quote after that game: "If we have one guy who scores 34 points, it probably means we lost." He was right: Dartmouth won that game 64-53 as every other Princeton player in that game combined to shoot 8 for 37.
Spencer Gloger had a 34-point night against UAB in a game in which he hit 10 three-pointers. Kit Mueller had 32 against Harvard. Chris Young had 30 against Harvard, on 10 of 11 shooting; his night could have been 40 had he not left early in the second half with a cut that required stitches.
Gabe Lewullis (who is in his final year of residency as an orthopedic surgeon) played for four years at Princeton, and TigerBlog saw every game but one. Of course, Lewullis set his career high in that one with 30 points at UNC Wilmington.
Why bring this up now?
Well, Perkins started it when he sent a letter to Gary Walters, who gave it to TigerBlog. It was essentially a fact-checking letter, as Perkins was curious about where his night stood in Princeton basketball history.
As it turns out, it stands pretty close to the top.
And it makes him the answer to a pretty good trivia question.