Friday's Best

Jeremy Lin and Spike Lee took in the riveting overtime contest between Harvard and Columbia Friday night at Levien Gymnasium. (Photo Credit: newsday.com)

A truly dramatic Friday night in the Ivy League ended with all the favorites pulling out victories.

Best Game: We were treated to a classic Ivy battle at Levien Gymnasium last night as Harvard prevailed 77-70 over Columbia in overtime. A packed gym that included Jeremy Lin and Spike Lee created a raucous atmosphere for a contest with massive title implications and the Crimson and Lions did not disappoint. Harvard jumped out to an early ten-point lead behind easy inside scores from Keith Wright and Kyle Casey. Late in the first half, Columbia settled down and started taking away the inside pass, creating turnovers that helped the Lions get back in the game. Freshmen Alex Rosenberg and Cory Osetkowski combined for 12 critical first-half points to bring the Lions within 34-30 at the half.

The second half was a back-and-forth affair as Harvard alternated between the block and the perimeter, showing their versatility. Columbia countered with Brian Barbour, who solidified his spot on the All-Ivy First Team with a jawdropping performance down the stretch against the League”s best backcourt defender in Brandyn Curry. Time after time, Barbour managed to penetrate, get to the bucket and finish from tough angles at the rim.

With four minutes to go, Harvard led 59-53. With Columbia on the ropes and needing a bucket, Harvard forced the Lions into a long possession. As the shot clock wound down, Cisco kicked the ball to the top of the key to Cory Osetkowski, the 6″10″ big man who had yet to hit a three all year. Osetkowski banked home the critical trey ball and Levien erupted. Columbia

added a Barbour jumper on its next trip down the floor before Brandyn Curry nailed a three to push the lead back to four with less than two minutes remaining. Columbia got it down to two and got the ball back after a Wright travel, and Barbour found a way to tie the game with another shifty drive. Harvard held for the final shot, but McNally”s three didn”t fall.

In overtime, the teams traded defensive stops for three minutes before Laurent Rivard and Kyle Casey hit two dagger threes that gave Harvard an advantage that they wouldn”t relinquish. The result was a clutch, hard-fought victory for Harvard, drawing them within one win of another Ivy title, and yet another heartbreaking loss for Columbia. Harvard now faces Cornell. A win gives the Crimson at least a share of the league championship, while a win coupled with a Penn loss to Yale would give Harvard the outright title and the NCAA bid. Columbia will host Dartmouth on Senior Night.

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Friday's Best

Mack Darrow's huge night off the bench helped lift Princeton over Columbia last night. (Photo Credit: goprincetontigers.com)

Best Second Half: Princeton rode a 50 point second half to an impressive 77-66 victory over Columbia at Jadwin. The Tigers limited Mark Cisco to 4 points and 5 rebounds, as Doug Davis notched 20 points and Ian Hummer added 16 to lead Princeton into the top half. The Tigers stuck with a short rotation of eight players and it allowed their guys to get in a shooting rhythm, as the team shot 51% from the field on the evening with all eight getting into the scoring column. The game was all tied up at 27 at the half, but a 14-3 run in the middle of the second half pushed the Tigers ahead to stay. Mack Darrow contributed 19 points off the bench (4-6 FG, 9-9 FT) in 26 minutes to provide an important spark. For the Lions, Brian Barbour continued to showcase his ability as a scorer with 22 points (5-12 FG, 11-13 FT), and Blaise Staab took advantage of the start by pouring in 12 points to go with 6 rebounds. Princeton takes on Cornell in a critical matchup at Jadwin tonight as the Tigers try to climb back up the standings.

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Friday's Best: Yale knocks off Penn

Greg Mangano carried Yale to a big victory over Zack Rosen's Penn Quakers tonight at the John J. Lee Amphitheatre. (Photo Credit: ivyleaguesports.com)

Quick hitters from Friday night”s games

Best win: Yale. Tonight”s biggest victory has to go to the Yale Bulldogs. Penn had a lot of momentum late in this game, and the Bulldogs could have let it all slip away when they started to get sloppy with the ball in the second half. Yale”s guards turned it around though and Mangano decided that the Elis weren”t losing this one, grabbing two offensive rebounds off missed free throws (one was his own) in the final minute to seal the win. Turnovers continue to trouble this team as Reggie Willhite, Austin Morgan, and Mike Grace combined for 13 giveaways, but besides those lapses in judgement (which need to be corrected soon), the Yale guards were impressive. Morgan hit three critical three pointers under pressure; Willhite showed his typical hustle on both ends, grabbing key rebounds and knocking down a huge late-game jumper; and Mike Grace had his best game of the season. The North Carolina native was 5-6 from the field with four assists, showing a propensity for the bank shot and looking more dangerous than he has all year. Mangano was pissed off at the referees all game, but he stopped whining and took the game into his own hands down the stretch, denying Rosen the chance at a game-tying three by getting those monster rebounds. The big man showed great touch around the rim all day, finishing with 23 points on 8-13 shooting and 10 rebounds. If this was Round One of the Player of the Year battle between Mangano and Rosen, the Bulldog came out on top.

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