Ivy Saturday roundup – Yale nabs first NCAA Tournament berth in 54 years

Cornell 75, Brown 71

Cornell won this season finale for both teams, scraping up a win with Brown offensive linchpin Tavon Blackmon missing the game due to an ankle injury. In his final collegiate game, Cedric Kuakumensah posted a characteristic 21 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, with Steven Spieth adding 13 rebounds, 12 points and seven assists. But Cornell’s 27-18 advantage in points off treys and 11-0 advantage in fastbreak points proved enough, featuring freshman Matt Morgan with 25 points, four assists and four rebounds, a steal and a block.

Both Brown and Cornell finish at 3-11 in Ivy play, with the latter quite possibly staring down a coaching change at Bill Courtney’s expense after achieving zero winning seasons or postseason appearances with his pell-mell approach to both offense and defense, and the former having to move on without a leader in Kuakumensah and serious holes defensively. Both can at least look forward to several primary backcourt and swing options returning: Matt Morgan and Robert Hatter for Cornell; Tavon Blackmon, Obi Okolie and Steven Spieth for Brown.

Princeton 84, Dartmouth 65

Princeton took out its anger on Dartmouth after losing a grasp on its Ivy title hopes the night before at Harvard, led by a cookin’ Steven Cook, who scored 27 against the Big Green for the second time this season. Freshman forward and Ivy Rookie of the Year candidate Evan Boudreaux missed the game with a foot injury, leaving Connor Boehm to take on the scoring load in his final collegiate game.

Dartmouth’s got a good young nucleus coming back with Boudreaux, last year’s Ivy Rookie of the Year Miles Wright, sophomore Taylor Johnson and freshman Guilien Smith. What the Big Green are still missing is a bona fide sharpshooter who can play off of Boudreaux’s powerful paint presence. Princeton, meanwhile, returns all of their regular producers from this season plus Hans Brase, who missed what would have been his senior campaign his year with a torn ACL. The Tigers have to be considered next year’s favorite to win the Ivy League championship after proving itself one of the greatest Ivies not to win it in recent years, even with Harvard benefiting from several blue-chip freshmen coming in. Princeton owes Harvard a letdown now.

Yale 71, Columbia 55

Check out Ian Halpern’s recap of Yale’s historic night, complete with video footage of the joy that comes with making such history. This is a team that had several on and off-court opportunities to fold down the stretch and did not, going 13-1 in Ivy play in a year in which it was expected that 11 conference wins would be enough to take the league. After 16 straight seasons finishing in the top half of the league, Yale is finally going dancing under James Jones. The Ivy League representative has been a tough out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament each of the last six seasons, winning three times. Expect Yale to be similarly challenging for whatever opponent it will face.

Columbia, meanwhile, will wait to see what postseason tournament it will participate in. Its NCAA Tournament window with Maodo Lo, Alex Rosenberg, Grant Mullins and Isaac Cohen has closed, but that group should nevertheless go down in Columbia and Ivy history as a special and highly entertaining one.

Harvard 74, Penn 56

Penn missed 16 of its first 17 shots, and that was pretty much it. With their easy home win, the Crimson clinch at least a share of the last slot in the upper division of the Ivy standings, taking that position away from the Quakers, who just don’t have the personnel as presently constituted to succeed in Steve Donahue’s system reliant on winning in the paint and at the three-point line at both ends of the floor. This Crimson squad will look very differently next season with a likely super-frosh lineup, but it still should be encouraging for Harvard fans that their team was capable of exploding with Zena Edosomwan, Corey Johnson and Agunwa Okolie taking the brunt of the offensive load.

8 thoughts on “Ivy Saturday roundup – Yale nabs first NCAA Tournament berth in 54 years

  1. Nice wrap up to the season. Congrats to the Yale team and hope they represent us well. I also couldn’t help but feel a little sad for the Princeton players watching them collapse in unison on the floor Friday night.
    I dunno, maybe I’m mellowing in my ancient years…..
    (What’s happening to me?)
    The AQ

    • Hope you show up at The Hangar on Tuesday, AQ. I expect the Quakers to play hard and I know the Tigers will. John Templon’s NIT Bracketology has the Tigers slotted as a #3 seed playing Evansville in the first round and either a Big 10 or ACC team in the second.

      • Can’t make it, but still hoping for a Penn win as you might guess. (Sentimentality with the Tigers only goes so far.) You guys will certainly be the favs next year though.

  2. It would be great if Harvard could have Agunwa Okolie for a fifth season, but rules won’t allow it. I would argue that Agunwa is the best defensive player in the Ivy League. He’s been asked to guard the best perimeter player on the other team, and has been brilliant in that regard. He is an amazing 6’8″ wing defender.

  3. lots of if only’s; if only cornell had sean miller, if only Dartmouth had alexc mitola, if only penn had tony hicks, if only brown had Rafael mia and the big kid from Utah! It is what it is. It is not like Harvard does not have eough talent already!!!

  4. Princeton’s upset loss at Harvard continues a trend in the Mitch Henderson era of the team losing huge games down the stretch that they were supposed to win. During the modern era, no PU coach other than Joe Scott has gone this far into his tenure without an Ivy League title. What do we make of this? Is it just bad luck? A more competitive Ivy League? Something else?

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