ITHACA – The Tigers completed another sweep on the road, running their Ivy road record to 7-0 and league record to 12-0 overall. The current winning streak stands at 15, with two more contests remaining: Harvard and Dartmouth at Jadwin Gym this weekend.
NEW YORK — For about 20 minutes Friday night, Princeton and Columbia played hideous, inefficient basketball. The two teams combined to shoot 34.6 percent in the first half (18-for-52). It was the only way the Lions could pull off the upset win they needed to revive their flagging Ivy tournament hopes.
Needless to say, rock fights against Princeton don’t stay that way for very long. The Tigers (18-6, 11-0 Ivy) hit eight three-pointers in the second half after only making two in the first and ran the Lions (10-14, 4-7) out of their own gym, 64-45.
“Devin [Cannady] made some shots. I thought we found him in the corners,” Princeton coach Mitch Henderson said. “We did a good job screening against the zone. I just think the second half of a game, you get a little bit more comfortable with the gym.”
Princeton plays at a glacially slow place and averaged 18.7 seconds per possession heading into Friday, 44th longest out of the 351 Division I teams. Minimizing the total number of possessions in a game is the Tigers’ modus operandi and it did the Lions in once their offense got into a rhythm.
“If the game is that slow, it lends into the way they want to play,” Columbia coach Jim Engles said. “They came out, made a couple of threes and got some separation from us and then it was hard for us to get anything going offensively.”
Princeton shot 48 percent in the second half while holding Columbia to a 32.1 field goal percentage.
The sudden resurgence of the Penn Quakers men’s basketball team has been one of the biggest stories of the Ivy League season. After an 0-6 start to conference play, including a four-game stretch where they lost by 12 at the Palestra to (preseason eighth-place) Brown, gave up an early 15-point lead in a defeat at Harvard, were upset by previously winless Dartmouth and got beat by 15 points at home to Princeton, many people (including this writer) were ready to write off the 2016-17 campaign. After the last two weekends, the team has regrouped and is now tied with Columbia for the final spot in the Ivy League Tournament.
Over the last four games, not only has the team played its best basketball of the season, the performances may have been the program’s most dominant in the last decade. The numbers that Penn has put up have been staggering.
Yale entered last Saturday night’s home game against Penn under second -year head coach Allison Guth with an Ivy record of 2-7, while Penn stood at 8-0. But Yale stunned Penn, 61-48. IHO caught up with coach Guth after the game.
Ivy Hoops Online: After the Princeton loss on Friday night, did you have an indication that your team would step up to the extent that it did against the team which you characterize as the top of the Ivy?
Allison Guth: I believe in this team and our ability to compete at the highest level. The challenge we have faced this season is our ability to perform consistently to our potential. I thought that we had a very inspired focus at shootaround and that our team was prepared to play a poised game vs a very good Penn team.
On the Vine welcomes two very special guests – Columbia Director of Basketball Operations Jonathan Safir and Mike James (@ivybball).
Safir discusses how Columbia is regrouping after a four-game skid and sizes up what the Lions are looking for in their crucial matchups versus Princeton and Penn this weekend. Mike James discusses Penn’s variance-balancing act, and the panel weighs in on the inaugural Ivy League Tournament being held automatically at the Palestra.
In addition to Safir and James, hosts Peter Andrews and Mike Tony are joined by IHO writer George Clark.
Columbia Director of Basketball Operations Jonathan Safir and Mike James (@ivybball) are set to join IHO writer George Clark and hosts Peter Andrews and Mike Tony for this week’s podcast episode of On the Vine. Listen live Thursday at 8:15 p.m. EST and send questions for the panel at Mixlr here.
It’s back. That deliciously dizzy feeling that madness is coming. As a rabid Princeton basketball fan of a certain age, I got used to this feeling years ago when the Tigers charged into the NCAA Tournament with regularity. Twice in the late ‘70s, four times in the ‘80s, six times in the ‘90s, and twice in the early 2000s, the orange and black danced “bigly,” as a certain Penn graduate might say.
Penn came into the weekend with a 7-0 record and was fortunate to escape with a split. On Friday, Brown used a 12-0 run to take a 15-point lead after the first quarter. Penn chipped away and took a two-point advantage into the fourth quarter. The Bears then went on a 15-6 run to take a seven-point lead with 4:16 to go. Penn tied it at 66 with 1:05 on the clock. Following a Brown bucket, the Quakers got an old fashioned three-point play to take the lead and two free throws to ice the 71-68 victory.
This was a momentous weekend for Ivy League basketball. First-place Princeton ran its winning streak to 13 games (10 in Ivy competition) in dominant fashion. Penn, meanwhile, snagged the No. 4 slot in the Ivy standings, erasing a Columbia four-game lead over the Red and Blue in the standings in just nine days courtesy of an equally dominant road sweep of Brown and Yale, a watermark back-to-back sequence for a long dormant program.