On Friday night, Penn clinched a berth in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament with a 47-34 victory over Cornell at the Palestra. The Red battled back from Penn’s initial 7-0 start, but could not counter the Quakers’ 11-0 run at the start of the second quarter. Both teams shot poorly (Cornell 24 percent overall and 18 percent from three; Penn 37 percent overall and 29 percent from three), but Penn’s more dominant inside game proved to be the difference.
Penn shooting improved in Saturday night’s victory against Columbia, hitting 41 percent overall, 9 of 18 three-pointers and 17 of 23 free throws. The Quakers used a strong inside-outside game to extend a three-point halftime lead to a 10-point margin at the end of three quarters. Despite the Lions getting the deficit down to four with 5:34 remaining, Penn’s 6-0 run over the next three minutes sealed the 68-59 win, its 10th in conference play.
The Lions had a difficult time against Princeton, as well, losing 78-54 on Friday night. The Lions came back from an early 10-point deficit to tie the game with 2:52 remaining in the first half, but Princeton closed the half with a 9-2 run. The Tigers dominated the last half of the game, shooting 47 percent to Columbia’s 19 and allowing only four baskets from the Lions in the last 20 minutes. With its eighth league win, Princeton secured a spot at the Palestra on March 11.
Against Cornell on Saturday night, Princeton’s eight-game win streak ended and the Red took control of the fourth spot in the tournament. With the game tied at 38 entering the fourth quarter, Cornell jumped out to a quick six-point lead. They held the Tigers without a point until the 6:17 mark, and a field goal until there was four seconds left in the contest. By game’s end, the Red walked away with a 55-44 win and a 6-6 conference record.
Heading into Friday’s home game with Dartmouth, Brown was tied for fourth and looking to end its two-game losing streak. The two teams stayed close to each other in the first half, with the Big Green holding four-point leads at halftime and the end of the third quarter. Dartmouth extended the small lead to five with 3:15 to go, but the Bears held them to 0-for-6 shooting the rest of the way to tie the game at 77 with 12 seconds left. The Big Green blocked two Brown shots in the last three seconds to force the game to overtime.
In the extra period, Brown and Dartmouth were knotted at 85 with 1:10 to go. The Big Green hit a two-pointer at the 53-second mark and got a crucial stop on Brown’s next possession. Still up two with 22 seconds left and two free throws on the way, Dartmouth only made the first before Brown came down with the ball and a chance for the tie. Dartmouth stole the ball with seven seconds left and hit its two free throws to get the 92-89 win, its second conference victory of the year.
On Saturday, the Bears had another close contest against third-place Harvard. Despite leading by as many as 11 points in the second quarter, Harvard could not shake Brown and went into halftime with a four-point advantage. A last-second three-pointer gave the Crimson a three-point lead heading into the last stanza. After extending the lead to five points with 3:33 to go, Brown scored the next five to tie the contest at 59 with 1:44 left. Just like Friday, the Bears’ opponent knocked down a late two and they failed to make their next shot. After that, the Crimson hit five of six free throws to hold a three-point lead with seven seconds to go. With a missed three-pointer by Brown, the Bears lost their fourth straight heartbreaker (all at home) to go 5-7 and Harvard clinched a spot in the Ivy tournament with its eighth conference win.
Before its victory over Brown, the Crimson visited New Haven to take on Yale. Coming off their win against Penn, the Bulldogs were hoping to beat another top team and keep its playoff hopes alive. Down five at the half, Harvard recovered to take a one-point lead after three quarters. With four minutes to go and the Crimson ahead 49-44, Yale hit nine of 12 free throws to help fuel a 13-3 end-of-game run. With the five-point win, the Bulldogs beat Harvard for the first time since 2012 and picked up a game on fourth-place Cornell.
Against Dartmouth, Yale came out of the gate quickly, scoring the first 11 points and closed out the quarter up 16-5. They extended the lead to 20 with three minutes in the half and ended up with a 16-point advantage at the break. Dartmouth got its deficit down to seven with eight minutes to go in the game, but that would be as close as the Big Green would get. Yale’s 58-44 win was its third straight and brought it into a 5-7 tie with Brown for fifth place, one game behind the Big Red.
Top 10 performances
Bella Alarie (Princeton freshman guard) – Averaged 12 points, seven rebounds, two assists and 2.5 steals
Katie Benzan (Harvard freshman guard) – Averaged 19 points, 7.5 rebounds and four assists. Named Ivy League Rookie of the Week for the sixth time this season
Jen Berkowitz (Yale junior forward) – Averaged 19 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. Named Ivy League Co-Player of the Week for the second time this season
Kate Letkewicz (Dartmouth junior guard) – Averaged 16 points, nine rebounds and 3.5 steals
Nia Marshall (Cornell senior forward) – Averaged 10 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Became Cornell’s all-time scoring leader on Saturday night, surpassing Karen Walker (’87-’91)
Shayna Mehta (Brown sophomore guard) – Averaged 18 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists
Destiny Nunley (Harvard senior forward) – Averaged 10.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 blocks
Michelle Nwokedi (Penn junior forward) – Averaged 19.5 points, 10 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. Named Ivy League Co-Player of the Week for third time this season
Erika Steeves (Brown sophomore forward) – Averaged 20 points and seven rebounds
Camilla Zimmerman (Columbia junior guard/forward) – Averaged 29 points, 7.5 rebounds and two steals
Where things stand
Penn (10-1), Princeton (8-3) and Harvard (8-4) have all locked up a spot at the Ivy League Tournament. The seeds, however, are not settled./
Cornell (6-6) is in fourth with a one-game lead over Brown (5-7) and Yale (5-7). If Cornell makes the tournament, it can go in as a No. 3 or No. 4 seed. Brown and Yale can only get in as a No. 4 seed.
Columbia (3-9) and Dartmouth (2-10) have been eliminated from the conference tournament.
Yale at Cornell 6 p.m. Brown at Cornell 5 p.m.
Princeton at Harvard 7 p.m. Yale at Columbia 6 p.m.
Penn at Dartmouth 7 p.m. Penn at Harvard 6 p.m.
Brown at Columbia 7 p.m. Princeton at Dartmouth 6 p.m.
Princeton at Penn 7 p.m.