Harvard, Yale, and Cornell got the Ws, emerging victorious from three wild finishes in a wacky weekend in the Ivy League.
If there was any doubt about the anyone-can-beat-anyone nature of this year”s Ivy League, this past weekend should have erased it. The league”s lowest rated team went on the road to the league”s highest rated team and led by 10 with 90 seconds left before Harvard”s furious comeback resulted in another Big Green heartbreak in overtime. The upstart Brown Bears went into New Haven and took the eternally upper half Bulldogs to the brink of a sweep before running out of gas in another overtime game. A struggling Cornell team showed up in New York City and outplayed dark horse title contender Columbia, holding on at the buzzer for the close victory. Let”s dive in and relive a bit of the madness.
- Poor Dartmouth. The Big Green looked like they were finally going to get that “signature win” that Cormier has been looking for with his young squad. With 93 seconds remaining, Dartmouth was on the verge of a monumental upset, leading 57-47 when Christian Webster cut it to 7 on a three-pointer. A few possessions later, Webster struck again from deep, making it a one possession game at 60-57 with 41 seconds left. Freshman Malik Gill made two big FTs for Dartmouth next, but once again Webster would not be denied, nailing a third three to cut it to 62-60. Harvard fouled Golden immediately, but the sophomore missed both freebies. Siyani Chambers completed the comeback by nailing a layup with 17 seconds to go. Gill”s three missed at the horn and Harvard, with all the momentum, took control of the overtime period, cruising to a 82-77 victory. Video highlights here.
- The end game collapse spoiled an otherwise excellent performance from the visiting Big Green, who were led by Connor Boehm”s double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds to go with five steals. Fellow freshman Malik Gill had 15 points, as did John Golden. Dartmouth”s sophomore trio of Maldunas, Brooks, and Golden all fouled out. For Harvard, Chambers had 21 points and Wesley Saunders added 20. Jonah Travis had 16 on 7-9 shooting and Webster finished with 13 points, including 9 in the final two minutes of regulation. The victory keeps Harvard at the top of the Ivy standings, though many questions will now arise regarding the Crimson”s ability to pull away from the Ivy pack after struggling twice with bottom-feeder Dartmouth. Harvard has now won eight in a row versus Dartmouth (last win was January 24, 2009).
- Yale salvages a split. The Bulldogs let a double-digit second half lead slip away, as Tucker Halpern knocked down two free throws to tie the game in the final minute. Michael Grace couldn”t connect on a three and Brown held for the final shot of regulation, but Steve Albrecht”s three at the buzzer didn”t go down and free basketball ensued. In the extra period, it was all Yale. The Bulldogs scored on every single possession of the overtime frame and ran away with a 76-64 victory.
- Yale was led by freshman Justin Sears (18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals) and senior Austin Morgan (16 points, 4 rebounds). The Bulldogs did a nice job jumping on Brown early, holding a ten point advantage on the Bears at the half. Brown shot just 36% from the field in this one and yielded 23 points at the free throw line to Yale. Foul trouble was a big factor for the visitors as Bears big man Rafael Maia fouled out with over five minutes left in regulation, and Cedric Kuakumensah was limited to just 19 minutes due to early fouls.
earns a split with gritty defense.Cornell ran out to a big lead on Columbia and held on late, as Brian Barbour missed a contested three at the buzzer, for an impressive victory at a packed Levien Auditorium. The Big Red looked more athletic on this night, especially on the defensive end, rotating quickly and denying anything in the paint all game. The result was a lot of stalled penetration from the Lions” backcourt and contested deep jump shots. Cornell led 31-19 at the half and maintained their aggressiveness into the second stanza. The trio of Shonn Miller (9 points, 11 rebounds), Josh Figini (12 points, 4 rebounds), and Galal Cancer (19 points, 5 rebounds) were the difference makers. Cancer, in particular, was successful in breaking down the Columbia defense and finishing at the bucket. While a Columbia run seemed inevitable, it was Figini with one of the game”s biggest plays, securing an offensive rebound, then retreating to the perimeter where he knocked down a corner three to push the lead back to 9 in the closing minutes. Barbour and Maodo Lo hit threes to cut the lead to two late, but the Lions couldn”t tie it up and Cancer was 4-4 from the line down the stretch to secure the split for the Big Red.
- Mark Cisco was a real no-show for Columbia. The big man who had been so effective in the first game of the series was held to 6 points and 2 rebounds. Kudos to Bill Courtney for making the adjustments– his team looked ready
to go and the game plan disrupted everything that the Lions wanted to do on offense. Barbour led Columbia with 15 points, but it was on 5-17 shooting. Rosenberg had 13 points, but he didn”t have one of his best games either, forcing a few bad looks in critical junctures. Cornell was excellent from the line, shooting 86% (25-29) to Columbia”s 65% (11-17). Also, this happened.
- Looking ahead. Next weekend”s biggest game has to be Columbia at Princeton on Saturday night. After failing to sweep Cornell, the Lions will pretty much need to win three of their next
four– at Penn, at Princeton, vs. Dartmouth, vs. Harvard. Getting one at Jadwin would go a long way towards ensuring that this title race is more than just a two-team sprint between the Tigers and Crimson.
- Meanwhile, Brown and Yale will take the trip north to Dartmouth and Harvard, as the Crimson looks to stay perfect in league play.