On Saturday night, the Ivy League regular season ended with a co-championship, another dominant night from the third-place team and a surprise fourth-place team heading to Ivy Madness.
In Saturday’s regular season finale against last-place Dartmouth, Cornell’s five seniors Joel Davis, Jack Gordon, Troy Whiteside, Steven Julian, and of course Matt Morgan were honored pregame and all got the start. After Cornell got the first two points just 35 seconds in from a Steven Julian alley-oop, the Big Green went on an 11-2 run and eventually led by one at the half.
But Cornell dominated the second half, outscoring Dartmouth by 16 and winning, 66-51. Jimmy Boeheim arguably played his best game of the season, finishing with 21 points off an excellent 9-for-10 shooting from the field, and a perfect 2-for-2 from deep.
Matt Morgan couldn’t follow up his dominant 31-point performance on Friday against Harvard, finishing with just eight points and snapping his double-digit scoring streak at 80 games, good for 12th in college basketball history and an Ivy League record.
Seeing it through
Brown notched an outstanding 67-63 win at Jadwin Gym, hanging on after nearly surrendering a 60-47 lead with 2:17 left. Brandon Anderson was the best player on the floor off the bench, posting 21 points and three steals in just 28 minutes, his trips to the foul line and jumpers setting back the Tigers any time they got even a modicum of momentum. Brown’s defense shut Princeton down early and often, holding the Tigers to 0.79 points per possession and collecting a whopping 25 turnovers from the hosts.
Harvard (8-5 Ivy, 15-11) 80 vs Cornell (5-8 Ivy, 11-13) 38
Harvard clinched a spot in Ivy Madness and locked down the third seed for next Saturday’s semifinal with a dominant 80-34 win over Cornell. The win, in addition to securing the Crimson’s third straight appearance in the Ivy Tournament, was the 600th career victory for Coach Kathy Delaney-Smith. Delaney-Smith is now one of 19 active coaches to reach that impressive milestone.
After Friday’s action, two teams (Princeton, Penn) clinched spots in Ivy Madness and one team (Brown) was eliminated, while the other five teams continue to battle it out for the last two tickets to IT-3.
Princeton 64 vs Dartmouth 47
Penn 75 vs Harvard 70
Cornell 66 vs Yale 56
Columbia 93 vs Brown 62
Eight thoughts on the women’s side:
1. Aghayere on a rebounding spree
There was a whopping 77 points scored in the first half in Penn’s battle with visiting Cornell, featuring the Big Red’s No. 2 Ivy scoring defense vs. the Red & Blue’s No. 1 Ivy scoring defense. No. 1 eventually got the best of No. 2 as the game eventually settled into more of a grind-it-out struggle. Princess Aghayere posted a career-high 23 points and 10 boards, the fourth double-double of her senior campaign. Aghayere grabbed seven of Penn’s offensive rebounds, fueling a 15-6 scoring edge for Penn in second-chance points. Aghayere is one of three Quakers to rank in the Ivy’s top nine in offensive rebounding (fifth behind league-leading Eleah Parker and ahead of Ashley Russell in ninth place). If Penn goes to another 2-3 zone variation against Princeton tomorrow night, Aghayere will have to come up big on the boards as she did in Penn’s win at Princeton last month, when she snared a team-high 12 boards, limiting a Tigers squad that crashed the boards against the zone well that day.
Eight thoughts on the men’s side:
1. Penn’s defense finds its stride
Penn held Cornell to 18 points in the second half and 0.78 points per possession for the night, an inspired defensive performance marking the latest glimpse of how high Penn’s ceiling can be when the defense is fully locked in. Matt Morgan’s usage rate was lower than usual, and Penn did a good job zeroing in on the second-all-time leading scorer in Ivy history. Morgan and company actually had a decent outing from beyond the arc (8-for-22, 36.4 percent), but it didn’t matter because everything else was effectively taken away. The Big Red typically thrive at the foul line, but Penn’s characteristically disciplined defense (the Quakers rank best in the Ivy League in defensive free throw rate) didn’t feed into that. Instead, Penn preserved its outside shot at an Ivy League Tournament berth, a feat only as realistic as its defense is strong down the stretch.
Eight thoughts on the women’s side:
1. Dartmouth hanging in there
Dartmouth did something it hadn’t done in a decade last night: defeat Yale at home. And the timing was pivotal as the Big Green notched its second win at the wire in the past four games courtesy of a Paula Lenart putback of a missed Isalys Quinones three-pointer with 1.3 seconds left, giving the Big Green a 56-54 victory to lift them to 4-5 in the Ivy standings – within a game of Yale with five outings to go. It was a gutsy win for the Big Green, whose savvy senior guard Cy Lippold suffered an injury versus Princeton last Saturday. Lenart and Quinones put Dartmouth over the top in a defensive battle, and Annie McKenna’s six steals helped stymie the Bulldogs. If Dartmouth can best Brown tonight and sweep Columbia and Cornell in the final weekend, it has a decent chance of tying Yale in the Ivy standings at 8-6, but the Bulldogs would still own the second tiebreaker: highest seed defeated (Yale has topped both Princeton and Harvard, while Dartmouth has beaten neither.) So the Big Green’s road slate at Penn and Princeton next weekend is a huge, if challenging, opportunity to neutralize or even claim the tiebreaker away from Yale.
Eight thoughts on the men’s side:
1. Columbia was due
Columbia hadn’t won an Ivy road game since its very first under Jim Engles at Cornell on Jan. 14, 2017: 17 such games ago. The Lions were 3-8 in games decided by one possession this season, including a 72-70 loss to Penn at Levien Gym three weeks prior, and were 4-20 in games decided by six points or fewer dating back to the start of last season. So when Maka Ellis’s stunningly easy layup off an inbound pass went in with 0.4 seconds left in overtime to clinch the 79-77 win for the Lions at the Palestra, it was a long overdue coup de grâce for a program that had long been far more competitive under Engles than its win-loss column showed. Kudos to Gabe Stefanini for coming up just two rebounds shy of a triple-double (20 points, 10 assists, eight boards) and Ellis for pitching in five of his 14 points in the final 1:24 in overtime as a rookie on the road to erase Penn’s 77-72 lead at that point.
Columbia (7-14, 3-5 Ivy) 83 at Brown (9-15, 1-7) 81
Columbia’s Madison Hardy sank two three-pointers in the last minute to push the Lions over Brown, 83-81, at the Pittzitola Sports Center. The victory was Columbia’s first conference road win and brought the Light Blue into a three-way tie for fifth place. The Bears, which lost their seventh straight contest, ended the night in sole possession of last place.