For Princeton women’s basketball, now is the time to regroup, refocus and regain the hunter mentality

Is there such a thing as a good loss in college basketball?  If you’re a top-25 team riding a 15-game winning streak, probably not.  

And yet …  

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LISTEN: Princeton men’s basketball downs Dartmouth, 68-56

Ivy Hoops Online contributor George “Toothless Tiger” Clark breaks down a 68-56 win for Princeton (21-3, 9-2 Ivy) at Dartmouth (5-19, 1-10) and takes stock of the Ivy League Tournament race:

Harvard women’s basketball bests Brown, 80-73, to clinch Ivy League Tournament slot

The Harvard women’s basketball team used an efficient fourth quarter to overcome a tough challenge from Brown on Saturday afternoon at Lavietes Pavilion. 

With the 80-73 victory, the Crimson (15-9, 8-3 Ivy) captured the third ticket to next month’s Ivy League Tournament at Levien Gym. It’ll be the third straight conference postseason appearance for Harvard and the sixth overall.

The Bears (14-10, 5-6), looking for their first Ivy Madness berth since the inaugural tournament in 2017, fell back into a tie with Penn. Both teams remain one game ahead of Yale with three games left in the regular season.

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Quakeaways from Penn men’s basketball’s 74-70 loss to Harvard

The dagger is officially in Penn’s season after the Quakers took a difficult-to-swallow road defeat at Harvard, 74-70.

Penn (10-16, 2-9 Ivy) completed a comeback from 17 points down in the second half after Clark Slajchert drained an open three from the right wing off an offensive rebound to tie the game at 62 with 5:45 to play.

But the Quakers were ultimately undone by a terrible break on a 50/50 ball when it mattered most.

With Penn down two points and the clock ticking below 3:45 to play, junior Nick Spinoso poked the ball free from Harvard’s Louis Lesmond in the post. Freshman Sam Brown dove but couldn’t come up with the loose ball. Instead, Harvard’s Malik Mack was able to recover it and swing the ball to Lesmond for an open corner three out of the scramble. Lesmond drained the shot to put the Crimson (14-10, 5-6) up two possessions.

Truth be told, Penn’s season effectively ended well before Saturday. That’s what happens when you lose eight games in a row during a 14-game conference season.

All that’s left to play for now is pride and future development. There’s plenty to rue about Saturday, starting with how …

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Yale men’s basketball secures bounce-back win at Columbia, 84-76

 Yale men’s basketball shook off the rust of a narrow loss in Ithaca Friday night and closed strong to defeat Columbia at Levien Gym, 84-76.

“Really gutsy performance with some guys injured,” Yale coach James Jones said.

Seven-foot sophomore frontcourt stalwart Danny Wolf played the game with a mask after suffering a broken nose against Cornell. Wolf, Yale’s leading scorer, was coming off two subpar performances at Princeton and Cornell. Wolf finished with 20 points on 9-for-15 shooting and added a team-leading nine rebounds.

Jones said that Wolf “played the way he is capable (of).”

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Cornell men’s basketball lays egg in 78-74 loss to Brown

Coming off arguably its best win of the season over Yale, Cornell men’s basketball laid an egg.

Trailing nearly the entire game, the Big Red couldn’t mount a late comeback Saturday night, losing to Brown, 78-74, spoiling Senior Night and a perfect record at Newman Arena this season. But most importantly, it pulled Cornell out of the driver’s seat in the battle for the regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the Ivy League Tournament.

Behind 15 with 4:49 left, the Big Red nearly mounted an improbable comeback. Senior forward Sean Hansen drilled a triple and senior guard Chris Manon finished in the paint. Junior forward Guy Ragland Jr. got a layup before backing his man down and eventually finishing and drawing a foul.

Ragland missed the free throw, but the Big Red came up with a stop. With 1:14 left, sophomore guard Cooper Noard squared up and nailed a corner triple to cut it down to 74-71.

That, however, was the closest Cornell got. Though the Bears missed multiple free throws down the stretch, the Big Red did the same as the door got left wide open.

Sophomore forward Kalu Anya led Brown with 23 points off 9-of-18 shooting. Junior forward Nana Owusu-Anane added 15 and senior guard Kimo Ferrari had 13.

For Cornell, Hansen led with 16 points and Ragland had 11. Manon and junior guard Nazir Williams each had 10 as Cornell shot just 44%, shooting well under 50% for the second consecutive night.

The loss draws Cornell even with Yale and Princeton at 9-2 in the Ivy. Both Cornell and Princeton went 1-1 against Yale this year, meaning the top seed in the conference will likely get decided next weekend when the Big Red visit the Tigers. Cornell handled Princeton earlier this year at Newman Arena.

But for a team that controlled its own destiny, losing to Brown is massive. It eliminates their cushion. And now, the Big Red will have heavy lifting at Jadwin Gymnasium to earn the No. 1 seed in a year when the top seed has never been so important.

First for Cornell, it’ll visit Penn on Friday night. Brown will host Cornell.

Columbia women’s basketball stops No. 25 Princeton, 67-65, and ties up Ivy League race

The Columbia women’s basketball team toppled No. 25 Princeton, 67-65, before a sold out and raucous crowd at Levien Gymnasium on Senior Day.  The win pulled Columbia (19-5, 10-1 Ivy) into a tie with Princeton (20-4, 10-1) for first place in the Ivy League with three games remaining for each team in the regular season.  Both teams have already clinched spots in the Ivy League tournament, which will be held in three weeks at Columbia.

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LISTEN: Princeton men’s basketball handles Harvard, 66-53

Ivy Hoops Online contributor George “Toothless Tiger” Clark recaps a 66-53 win for Princeton (20-3, 8-2 Ivy) at Harvard (13-10, 4-6) Friday night that allowed the Tigers to keep a game behind Cornell in the Ivy League standings:

Tosan in the pros: Evbuomwan nabs two-way deal, minutes with Detroit Pistons

When Ivy Hoops Online last left Tosan Evbuomwan, he was in the mildly perilous spot of playing out a 10-day contract, no future NBA home secured.

Worry no longer; Despite the Memphis Grizzlies letting him leave after four games, Evbuomwan quickly signed a new 10-day deal with the Detroit Pistons and subsequently was converted onto a two-way deal in Detroit announced Friday.

Two-way Tosan

What does that mean? Evbuomwan is not part of the Pistons’ primary 15-man roster but takes one of three two-way spots. Thus the Pistons can have him on their bench for the rest of the season. He can still be sent back to the G-League, where he’d played for Detroit’s affiliate previously, but he now has a more established NBA home than when he was between the G-League and 10-day deals.

Signing a two-way deal now gives Detroit the ability to bring him back next season as well. It likely allows the Pistons the first chance to add him to their 15-man roster if another team pursues him this offseason.

With 27 games to go and little but pride to play for, the 8-47 Pistons should have some minutes Evbuomwan can absorb. Plenty of NBA players have showed enough on two-way contracts to get into regular rotations, and it’s not far-fetched to believe Tosan can do the same within the next few seasons.

Tosan Evbuomwan has a long way to go to rank among the all-time leaders in most NBA games played among Ivy League veterans. (Bally Sports TV broadcast)

Taking on Kevin Durant

I recapped Evbuomwan’s two most fruitful games with Memphis. While he’s only played eight minutes in Detroit, there was plenty to watch as he battled against Kevin Durant’s Phoenix Suns.

In a 116-100 loss in Phoenix on Valentine’s Day, Evbuomwan got real rotation minutes in the first half. He checked in with 5:37 left in the second quarter and the woeful Pistons already down 19. (Unlike the Knicks’ public address announcer, the Suns’ PA man pronounced his last name without issue!)

His defensive role at first was hanging with Eric Gordon and Suns’ tertiary guys. The Pistons forced a shot-clock violation in his first defensive possession, albeit with Evbuomwan mostly off-ball.

With Durant (lightly) guarding him on the other end, Tosan ended up handling the 14-time All-Star in some crossmatches. He held his own on a contest against KD at the rim and picked him up above the three-point arc and navigated a screen well while Durant fired a quality assist. He even earned his first career steal by getting back in transition and interrupting Durant in the open court.

For the last three minutes of the half, Evbuomwan took over as Durant’s primary defender. He fouled him navigating an off-ball screen, giving KD two free throws, but he did fine work staying with the former MVP in the mid-post. Still, Durant was able to use his 6-foot-11 frame to nail the jumper over the outstretched Ivy alum.

His defensive highlight of the night came in garbage time when he returned to the game for the final three minutes of the fourth quarter. Taking on Théo Maledon in transition, he stayed with the speedy guard step-for-step and avoided fouling. He ultimately forced Maledon into an errant floater while getting whistled for a travel.

That’s me in the corner

In Evbuomwan’s first half minutes, his teammates barely looked at him. His role was primarily to stand in the corner. He made some fine cuts and got into good offensive rebounding position twice but on shots the Pistons made.

For the rest of those five and half minutes, Tosan stood by as his teammates made some horrendous passes. Tossing crosscourt to no one, hitting people in the first row, etc. It wasn’t pretty and easily explained the Suns’ hefty advantage.

In garbage time to close the fourth, Evbuomwan was finally an active participant in the offense. He set a few pin-down screens for Mike Muscala and also set more screens for point guard Marcus Sasser.

Sasser and Evbuomwan had some decent chemistry after an early mishap. On their first pick and roll, Sasser’s dump-off past into the post was mediocre and Tosan couldn’t handle it, leading to the Pistons’ maintaining the ball out of bounds. The Pistons left him wide open in the corner on the next play and Sasser nailed him for an easy trey.

On the next possession, Tosan rolled after a screen up top for Sasser and again benefitted from a great wraparound pass from Sasser, scoring an easy layup.

Finally, Evbuomwan crashed the glass late and helped deflect a ball to Muscala for an easy layup.

He wasn’t asked to do much in the halfcourt defensively in garbage time. Funnily enough, it took until his fifth NBA game to guard an ex-teammate, assigned fellow former Grizzly David Roddy, who barely saw the ball. The closest thing to a highlight was when he gobbled up a contested rebound despite Saben Lee crashing the glass.

Tosan Evbuomwan contributed five points on 2-for-2 shooting from the field and two rebounds in 8:24 of playing time for the Detroit Pistons in their 116-100 loss at the Phoenix Suns on Feb. 14. (Bally Sports TV broadcast)

Conclusion

Look, it’s eight minutes and the Pistons are rough to watch. Despite a paucity of high-quality teammates, Evbuomwan is simply asked to be a role player. Five games into his NBA career, he’s handling that just fine. With a two-way contract secured, he’s going to get more chances from the back of the bench, an exciting moment for the Ivy League … even Penn fans like me.