There was a great game played on the campus of Columbia on Wednesday night. Two great teams playing their best basketball in late March faced off in front of a raucous crowd of passionate fans. It was a banner night for the League and it meant little to anyone in Levien Gymnasium that the tournament was one of little prestige.
Columbia and Yale played their hearts out with the Bulldogs ultimately emerging victorious thanks to one of the Ivy’s most impressive individual performances of the season. Javier Duren, after halftime, took his game to a new level, setting new career highs (vs. D-I opponents) in points (33) and rebounds (9). Duren was everywhere, slashing through the lane and getting to the rim against Columbia’s staunch defense, nabbing rebounds, and controlling the game for the Elis. This kind of transcendental performance was the only way Yale was going to pull this game out as the Lions, spurred on by an incredible showing from the Columbia faithful, would not go quietly into the Morningside night as they attempted to extend this historic season.
The Tigers continued the Ivy League’s creditable showing in the 2014 post-season with a 56-55 victory over the Tulane Green Wave in the opener of the College Basketball Invitational in New Orleans. Princeton was in control of the contest throughout, although Tulane made a strong run at the end. The Green Wave clearly missed the services of leading scorer Louis Dabney, unable to take the court due to recent injury.
TJ Bray, mistakenly identified as “Ivy POY” by the Tulane play-by-play announcer, showed once again why he deserved consideration. Bray joined the Princeton 1000 Point Club with 12 for the game, to go with 9 assists. His 370 assists Red/Black, Even/ Odd, Low/High BetsVoit asettaa panoksen yhteen sarakkeista joka on poydan pitkalla sivulla. leave him just 11 shy of second place in the Tiger career record book. Hans Brase led the Tigers with 16 points.
All season, Yale has relied heavily on IHO Player of the Year Justin Sears. So it only made sense that with the season on the line, down two points to Quinnipiac with the game clock winding perilously low, the Bulldogs would find Sears– even if it wasn’t in his natural zone of dominance in the paint.
Instead, Sears caught the ball out on the wing, took a few dribbles, stepped back, and let fly on his 10th three-point attempt of the season (for reference sake, he’s taken 307 two-pointers). The ball hit glass, then net as the Yale crowd erupted in astonished euphoria, while Quinnipiac supporters that had made the trip down from Hamden stood slack-jawed. Yale 69, Quinnipiac 68. The referees reset the clock to :00.7, but the Bobcats’ full-court heave was picked out of the air by (who else?) Justin Sears and the Elis moved on to the second round of the CIT.
After two straight big baskets from Cory Osetkowski got Columbia the lead back, Valparaiso’s Vashil Fernandez hit 1 of 2 from the stripe to tie the game at 56 with just :28 on the clock. Holding for one shot, Maodo Lo let the clock tick under five seconds before making his move at the basket. He maneuvered just above the foul line, stepped back, and nailed the game winning jumper to send Columbia into the second round of the CIT as his teammates mobbed him at center court. The road victory was the Lions’ 20th win of the season, the most since 1970. The postseason triumph was Columbia’s first since 1968.
The final Ivy weekend is in the books, and as always, what a ride it’s been this season. Let’s get to the weekend’s big winners.
Harvard: Well, it certainly didn’t always feel like a runaway season, but by the time all the dust settled on Saturday night, Harvard had won the league by a full four games, which is about what we thought might happen all the way back in November. While the Ivy gods were nice enough to tease us with a final weekend with title implications, Harvard put an end to all of that quickly, racing out to a 16-2 lead against Yale and never letting the Bulldogs get all the way back into it. It’s sort of a shame Yale couldn’t pull out a victory on Friday because we would have had some remarkable drama last night if the Bulldogs had pulled within one game.
The Crimson needed overtime in an old-fashioned barnburner to dispatch of pesky Brown on Senior Night for Sean McGonagill. The Bears’ star guard went out with a bang, tallying 26 points, 8 assists, and just one turnover, but it wasn’t enough to steal the victory.
Down the stretch, Siyani Chambers stepped up and knocked down a huge three to put Harvard up 87-85 with just one minute to play in regulation. Rookie of the Year candidate Leland King then battled in the paint and knocked down a short jumper to tie the game before Chambers’ fading baseline jumper was way off at the horn.
In overtime, it was a one-possession game until Brandyn Curry came up with a steal and Laurent Rivard, just like the night before, knocked down the backbreaking three pointer that sealed it up for the Crimson. The 98-93 final was the highest scoring game in the Ivy this season. The Crimson big men, Moundou-Missi and Casey, both finished with double-doubles as Brown had no answer for their size and strength when the ball got down low.
Harvard, at 26-4 and #51 in the RPI, appears to be looking at an 11 or 12 seed based on most bracketologists’ projections. That would put the Crimson in a relatively reasonable position to advance to the Sweet 16, facing no #1 or #2 seeds in the first two rounds.
The Harvard players celebrated and pointed to their fans as the TV cameras gazed admiringly upon the champs as they whooped it up after the buzzer sounded on yet another banner season for the Ivy’s newest dynasty. Meanwhile, silent Yale fans gritted their teeth, the inhumanity of their arch rival celebrating on their home court too much to bear. Tommy Amaker happily took in the moment, pointing to the stands and clapping briefly before moving swiftly and purposefully toward his team, directing them to the locker room. The message was clear. Winning the Ivy (again) is a great accomplishment, but Harvard’s work is not done. The Crimson have an eye on bigger things.
Two teams gained ground in the standings this weekend with historic sweeps. Harvard opened up a one game lead on second-place Yale after bulldozing Penn at the Palestra and earning its first victory since 1989 at Jadwin. Meanwhile, Columbia swept an Ivy weekend for the first time in five years and moved into a tie for third, edging Brown on Friday and stopping Yale on national TV on Sunday. Let”s take a look at the weekend”s big winners.
For every Ivy weekend up until this one, we entered the weekend with a certain narrative that was turned upside down by surprising results. Finally this weekend, the narrative held up and we can move forward knowing that– barring someone else winning out– the Ivy League is now a two-team race between the Harvard Crimson and the Yale Bulldogs. The two conference leaders held serve, sweeping the weekend and extending their lead on the rest of the pack to two games behind one thrilling overtime victory each— both marked by controversial officiating decisions. Let”s take a closer look at this weekend”s big winners.
Another disappointing weekend for Princeton’s Tigers, this time at home. Trying desperately to shake off the effects of a disastrous 0-3 start to the Ivy campaign, Princeton relished the prospect of entertaining Columbia, which hadn’t won at Jadwin in 20 years, and Cornell, the Ivy cellar dweller.
Against the Lions, Hans Brase got off to another fast start, leading the Tigers to an eight point lead at intermission, 33-25, as order appeared restored in the Princeton universe. The euphoria proved to be nothing more than a mirage, however, as the Tigers’ woes in the Ivy League continued. The gritty Alex Rosenberg, although not shooting particularly well, kept the Lions in the game by getting to the line and converting 8-8 on the evening.
Another Saturday night, another surprise: James Jones’ squad brings a level of defensive intensity previously unseen, while putting together a shooting performance for the ages. Yale outplayed Harvard for 40 minutes at Lavietes and now brings a share of the Ivy League lead back to New Haven at 5-1.
Meanwhile, a fan base that was calling for Jerome’s head one week ago will be a little quieter this week, as the Quakers rode a huge performance from Fran Dougherty to a big win over Columbia.
Elsewhere, Princeton and Brown salvaged splits against two teams destined for the bottom half.