Princeton finished the first half with a 12-3 surge to take an eight-point lead at halftime, and made it stand up in a 66-51 Big 8 Conference win Tuesday at the Hilltop.

The Golden Aces could not mount any kind of serious rally in the second half, scoring as many as three consecutive points only twice.

“Very frustrating performance by our ballclub,” said Mt. Carmel coach Tyler Buss. “It seemed when things didn’t go well early we lost our energy. Princeton played a lot harder than we did tonight.”

Mt. Carmel (5-3, 0-2 in Big 8) led 19-18 after a C.J. Diel basket with three minutes to go in the second quarter. Kinzer Havill and Tyler Holder scored quickly for Princeton to wipe out the deficit, and the Tigers finished the half with a flurry to lead 30-22 at halftime.

“We just couldn’t give up those easy runouts where we turn it over and they go the other way for uncontested layups,” Buss said.

Which is exactly what happened.

“We needed to get some of those on our own,” Buss said. “Princeton is as good a half-court team as we’ll see this year.”

Havill led Princeton (3-0, 2-0), coached by former Aces coach Ryan Haywood, with 22 points. Guard Michael Kermode, who seemed to get better as the game worn on, scored 16 along with Hunter Leonard.

Diel led Mt. Carmel with 18 points, followed by Reece Metcalf with 13. Levi Laws was held in check, scoring only eight points.

Princeton, coming off an impressive 72-68 win over Evansville Bosse but showing no signs of a letdown, outdistanced the hosts at the foul line as well, hitting 20-of-31 compared to the Aces’ 8-of-11.

NOTES: Laws is now within 23 points of the 1,000-point career mark... Princeton has won eight of last nine games vs. Aces... Haywood is now 2-1 in games against Buss, his successor at Hilltop.