Princeton falters at Payne Whitney … again

Mitch Henderson fell to 2-6 all-time against Yale as Princeton's head coach Friday night in New Haven.

Mitch Henderson fell to 2-6 all-time against Yale as Princeton’s head coach Friday night in New Haven.

The Princeton brand took another body blow last night in New Haven, rekindling memories of the shocking collapse two seasons ago. At that time, the Tigers entered the final full weekend of the year needing a sweep to clinch another Ivy title or just one win to force a playoff with eventual winner Harvard. A shocking upset Friday night at Yale, followed by a listless walk-through at Brown the next night, sent the Tigers home with its season in tatters. That team voted to stay home in the postseason, turning down overtures from the CBI and CIT.

The stakes were not nearly as high this year as the Tigers embarked on the annual dogsled trip to New Haven and Providence. The young Tigers were aiming to leave a calling card at Payne Whitney, showing coach James Jones and the Bulldogs what they might have to face in the years to come.

If, in fact, that is what happened, you could not blame Jones if he let loose with a few guffaws after the dud Mitch Henderson lobbed his way.

Yale explodes in second half, defeats Princeton

NEW HAVEN – Yale found a gear which it probably didn’t know that it had Friday night and a scoreboard-watching crowd added to the excitement at Payne Whitney Gym.
The Bulldogs were down to Princeton 47-39 with 13:41 remaining and then all of a sudden they went on a 42-13 offensive tear to defeat the Tigers, 81-60.
Princeton was defenseless against the onslaught. Justin Sears refused to be denied during that stretch, which James Jones characterized as, along with an earlier season win over Lafayette, the best stretch in a game of the season. Sears finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds and seemed to be all over the court.

Ivy Friday Roundup

Cornell 57, Harvard 49

Well, then. The Big Red raced to a 22-21 halftime lead and out-Crimsoned the Crimson in the second half, pulling away with stout defense and efficient shooting. Shonn Miller fired on all cylinders to the tune of 24 points, 15 boards and three blocks. In a season in which Miller has consistently struggled beyond the arc, a pair of Miller treys midway through the second stanza signaled this wasn’t Harvard’s night. The Big Red’s win snaps their nine-game losing streak against Harvard as well as the Crimson’s 12-game win streak in Ivy road games, dropping Harvard to 4-7 at home this season. Most importantly, the loss drops the Crimson to 9-2 in Ivy play.

Yale 81, Princeton 60

The Justin Sears Show (feat. Javier Duren) overpowered Princeton’s ensemble performance down the stretch and the Bulldogs ended the game on a 42-13 run to tie Harvard atop the league standings at 9-2. Sears notched 12 rebounds and 28 points, giving him 53 in two wins over Princeton this season. Princeton was randomly led in scoring this evening by Steven Cook (12) and Clay Wilson (11), marking the first time that pair led the Tigers in scoring since Mitch Henderson’s squad trumped Stony Brook in December.

Brown 75, Penn 69

Brown completed its second consecutive season sweep of Penn thanks to a 21-point, 6-for-9 shooting (all beyond the arc) performance from J.R. Hobbie, who shredded Penn’s perimeter defense for a second time this season after having also scored 21 at Penn earlier this month, both season highs. Penn’s Tony Hicks returned from a two-game suspension for poor sportsmanship in a loss to Brown and in his failed attempt to exact revenge on the Bears notched 23 points, five rebounds and four steals. Penn has now lost six straight.

Dartmouth 84, Columbia 71

Dartmouth pulled off a season sweep of its own against the Lions, pulling away in the second half on the strength of Alex Mitola’s 18 points and five other players in double figures. The Big Green shot 60 percent from the floor while Columbia made only nine of 34 three-point attempts, knocking Columbia down to 5-6 and a tie with Cornell for fourth place in Ivy play.

On the Vine – Feb. 26

Check out our archive of the latest On the Vine podcast, in which Caleb Miller of the Brown Daily Herald and IHO writers George Clark and Robert “Crimson” Crawford join Peter Andrews & Mike Tony to cover the latest Ivy action. Segments include reflections on what went wrong for Yale vs. Columbia, who belongs on the 2014-15 All-Ivy first and second-teams, and predictions on who will prevail in this weekend’s matchups:

A road sweep for Columbia breaks a seven-year streak

With nine seconds left, Kyle Castlin was suddenly all by himself.

Isaac Cohen had flung a floating touch pass, a perfectly weighted through ball that would make the likes of Mesut Ozil proud, over the pressing defense of the desperate Yale Bulldogs. Castlin, breaking away from his man, hauled in the pass in stride, nothing but an empty basket ahead of him.

The freshman rose up and put down a two-handed slam, sending a disappointed crowd of 1,900 out into snowy New Haven. The small clique of Lions fans behind the bench went nuts as Kyle Smith let out a celebratory fist pump, Castlin’s dunk providing the exclamation point on a weekend to remember for Columbia.

Crimson vanquish P’s, secure sole possession of first place

Harvard appears to be closing in on a fifth straight Ivy crown, but the Crimson aren't in the clear just yet. (Robert Crawford)

Harvard appears to be closing in on a fifth straight Ivy crown, but the Crimson aren’t in the clear just yet. (Robert Crawford)

It was about 4:00 on a Saturday afternoon in late January. Harvard had just suffered a crushing defeat to Dartmouth at home. The Crimson’s record was 1-1 in Ivy play. The Ivy season was still young, but to many this loss proved that Harvard was not the team it once was. The door was left wide open for Yale – in fact, the door had swung off its hinges. A few minutes after the buzzer sounded, the distraught Crimson players came back onto the floor to sign autographs for their young fans. At the time, the smiles on these kids’ faces made them look naive – but knowing how insignificant that loss seems now, perhaps those kids’ prophetic smiles proved they knew more about the Crimson’s future than the rest of us.

That hypothesis is supported by the next day’s headlines and the initial reaction to that second Harvard-Dartmouth game. A trusted source for Ivy basketball on Twitter ripped into Tommy Amaker for his lineup decisions and then stated, “When [Harvard] loses the league, this will be why.” A writer for our own Ivy Hoops Online wrote in a piece about Yale that “Harvard is not that good.” In the face of all of this negativity, Harvard basketball’s mantra became “regroup and respond,” and over the last month (during which the Crimson have won eight straight Ivy games), that’s just what this team has done. Harvard’s two wins this past weekend over Penn and Princeton, combined with Columbia’s victory over Yale on Saturday night, have placed Harvard in sole possession of first place (9-1), one game ahead of Yale (8-2).

Ivy Saturday Roundup

Brown 57 Cornell 56

Cornell’s proven it can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory better than anyone. The Big Red fell to 0-5 in games decided by three points or fewer in devastating fashion, blowing a 40-23 second-half lead and falling following Cedric Kuakumensah’s game-winning shot with two seconds left. Minus Shonn Miller, the Big Red managed to shoot sub-30 percent against the conference’s worst defense. Cornell’s offense is broken, but credit to Brown for coming back in the second half of the second game of a back-to-back.

Harvard 63 Princeton 55

Wesley Saunders and his 23-point, nine-rebound, four-steal, three-assist performance proved to be too much for Princeton, which finished with just one player – Clay Wilson – in double figures. The Tigers led 33-21 with 3:56 left in the first half, but Harvard embarked on a gradual comeback with characteristically solid defense, forcing 19 Princeton turnovers. The Crimson took first place in the conference at 9-1 after…

Columbia 56 Yale 50

Yale couldn’t get much going offensively against the Lions, falling to 8-2 in Ivy play. Justin Sears was stifled early and often, notching just seven points on the night for the Elis. Columbia finally hung on in a high-profile matchup thanks to Maodo Lo, who posted 18 points and six rebounds. As Sears goes, so goes Yale, and tonight, it went down.

Dartmouth 67 Penn 62

A see-saw game in Hanover finished with the hosts on top. Alex Mitola was shut down by the Quakers at the Palestra earlier this season, but he rebounded with an 18-point performance tonight. Penn shut down Miles Wright, who scored just 2 after scoring at least 16 in his previous five games, but it wasn’t enough. Dartmouth got two bench efforts in double-figures from Tommy Carpenter and Connor Boehm. Penn now occupies sole possession of last place in the Ivy League.