Harvard 76, Cornell 74
This will surely be remembered as the weekend that ensured Bill Courtney’s exit as Cornell’s head coach after six years of no postseason tournament appearances, following him taking over a program fresh off a Sweet 16 run in 2010. On Friday night, Cornell came out flat and struggled mightily for long stretches in a home 78-66 loss to Dartmouth, a game that the Big Red had to have after being on the wrong end of back-to-back weekend sweeps. Then this game happened.
Cornell led Harvard at Newman Arena by 21, 67-46, with 8:48 remaining in the game. Then came a Crimson comeback that Big Red fans will never forget. Cornell just stopped scoring, and during Harvard’s 30-7 run to end the game, Crimson freshman guard Tommy McCarthy pitched in seven points and five assists, including the game-winning layup with six seconds left after Cornell freshman guard Matt Morgan tied the game at 74-74 with a trey. Morgan scored just five points in the second half after posting 22 in the first stanza. Morgan was the only Cornell player to score in double figures, as the Big Red settled for the same hero ball approach that has failed them throughout Ivy play. Blowing a 21-point lead at home in less than 10 minutes is the absolute last thing a team can do to give a hot-seat coach job security. Courtney officially has none now.
Princeton 77, Brown 66
Meh, nothing to see here, just the league’s hottest offense slicing through the league’s worst defense. The Tigers shot 11-for-24 (45.8 percent) from beyond the arc and were never seriously threatened. Anyone can do the job for Princeton, as evidenced by Henry Caruso, Steven Cook and Spencer Weisz’s combined 38 points on 14-for-27 shooting a week after the trio, particularly after they went 4-for-24 (not a misprint) from the floor at Columbia and still beat the formidable Lions on their home floor.
Yale 79, Penn 58
Even though this score is nearly identical to the previous matchup in this series this season, an 81-58 Yale win over Penn in New Haven, the Quakers showed some good stuff against the Bulldogs, executing a crisp motion offense and pressuring well defensively. Penn trailed just 43-41 with 13:15 left to play, but Yale’s vice grip specially designed to go after lesser teams took over. Justin Sears and Sam Downey started trading jumpers and the Elis clamped down on defense, and that was basically it. Sears’ 31 points in 33 minutes reestablished him as perhaps the favorite to repeat as Ivy Player of the Year, especially since it was clear he did not want to leave the Palestra with a bad taste in his mouth as he did following Yale’s Ivy playoff loss to Harvard there 11 months ago. Yale might need to win one more game at the Palestra to punch a NCAA Tournament ticket if another Ivy playoff victory becomes necessary.
Columbia 73, Dartmouth 54
The Lions have now whittled down their remaining must-wins to four, prevailing over Dartmouth thanks chiefly to a resilient Grant Mullins, who fought the flu to lead all scorers with 17 points, aided by Maodo Lo turning it on in the second half after a 0-for-7 start. Dartmouth freshman forward Evan Boudreaux couldn’t get it going, shooting just 5-for-18 from the floor, the third time in the past five games Boudreaux has shot lower than 36 percent. Columbia’s three-point defense has been gouged a lot in Ivy play, but Dartmouth’s just not built to exploit that area of the floor.