Princeton 85, Cornell 56
That escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast. The Tigers cleaned out Cornell from wire to wire, racing out to a 33-8 lead in the first 10:20 and never looking back. Princeton shot 50 percent from the floor, anchored as usual by Henry Caruso’s 13-point, seven-rebound, two-assist, two-steal performance, with 13 additional points from Amir Bell. Freshmen Devin Cannady and Myles Stephens combined for 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting off the bench, including 3-for-4 beyond the arc from Cannady.
Two weeks ago, after its road sweep of Harvard and Dartmouth, Cornell looked like an upper-half Ivy team. Now it’s in free fall, having lost its last two games by a combined 60 points. Sure, the losses came against Yale and Princeton, but any measure of competitiveness would be nice. Cornell players not named Matt Morgan combined for
just 41 points on 16-for-49 (32.7 percent) shooting. The Tigers didn’t mind playing at Cornell’s uptempo pace, as anyone might have predicted. With Robert Hatter not putting up the same production as before his ankle injury, Cornell has few offensive options and its interior defense keeps getting cratered.
Columbia 63, Penn 53
Penn’s last two trips to Levien were ugly, including an 83-56 blowout loss to red-hot Columbia last season and a Tony Hicks swing at Meiko Lyles in a 74-55 loss the year before that. This game wasn’t as abysmal for the Quakers, but as our Ian Wenik noted on Twitter, Columbia still won with interior defense and points off turnovers (19 vs. Penn’s nine). Maodo Lo’s 21 points, five boards and two steals helped put Penn away in the second half, as did some clutch points from Jeff Coby. Darien Nelson-Henry’s 11-point, 11-rebound, six-assist performance was forged in part through 4-for-12 shooting. Columbia, meanwhile, went full Harvard from the foul line, shooting a 7-for-19 clip that comes as very alarming for a team not used to such paltry showings there, especially at home. Columbia won’t get away with that against the Tigers Saturday night.
Yale 75, Dartmouth 65
Yale was back at the scene of last year’s crime, and déjà vu seemed to be setting in for much of this game. Dartmouth led 28-27 at the half, its same margin of victory against the Bulldogs at Leede Arena in last year’s regular season finale, and the Big Green maintained that lead until a 13-2 Elis run starting with 7:14 left in the game gave Yale a cushion that even Gabas Maldunas couldn’t erase (also because he graduated). Yale’s comeback was powered by two core guys, Makai Mason and Justin Sears. After shooting 0-for-7 in the first half, Mason went 6-for-9 from the floor, including 4-for-4 from deep, to post 20 points in the second stanza, and Sears added 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting in that half as well. Yale sealed the deal at Dartmouth this time, and delivering in crunchtime is the mark of a champion. The Bulldogs are 7-0 with one more half of an Ivy slate between them and their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1962. If they blow it this time, it won’t be in Hanover.
Harvard 79, Brown 73
Harvard hasn’t had too many five-game losing streaks recently, but that’s just what the Crimson brought into their matchup with Brown. Harvard survived because its bench outshone Brown’s (31 bench points to Harvard’s 14) and the Crimson shot 24-for-34 from the free throw line. THAT’S NORTH OF 70 PERCENT. Perhaps the two most accomplished on this night shared the last name Okolie, as brothers Agunwa and Obi each got to the foul line often and provided key shots. Agunwa won, though, notching 15 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in 36 minutes. Zena Edosomwan returned from injury for Harvard but was beleaguered by early foul trouble and played just 18 minutes, with Tommy Amaker wary of Edosomwan picking up a third foul for much of the first half. Mike Martin wisely made the Crimson earn this one at the line in crunchtime, and they did, leaving Dartmouth to occupy the Ivy cellar.