The opening two nights of the college basketball season gave Ivy hoops fans a lot to celebrate. On Friday night, Harvard got the kinks out against a solid D-III squad in MIT and Penn mounted the greatest comeback in program history (!) to knock off UMBC at the Palestra.
On Saturday, the League kept rolling, as Cornell got great production from their guards, beating Western Michigan 80-75, and Princeton won a tight one on the road thanks to some late-game heroics, 57-53 over Buffalo. Yale came out firing against Sacred Heart in a late-afternoon matinee in West Hartford, and looked like they would
cruise to an early victory, but the Pioneers stormed back to force OT and dealt the Bulldogs a painful defeat, 85-82.
In the nightcap, Dartmouth won their first season opener since 2005, slowly pulling away from Maine in the second half at Leede Arena, 67-54, while
Columbia annihilated Furman in South Carolina, 68-47, behind a backcourt barrage. Here are the weekend”s best performances:
The Class of 2016: Whoa! Who says freshmen can”t contribute in the Ivy League? Tony Hicks started for Penn and scored 13 points in his debut. Alex Mitola played 35 minutes for Dartmouth and dropped 12 of his own. Justin Sears looked like the best player on the court for parts of Yale”s game vs. Sacred Heart, scoring 19 points and adding 7 rebounds. But no freshman was better on this day than Cornell”s Nolan Cressler, who shot the lights out, going for 20 critical points on 6-8 shooting from downtown in Cornell”s victory.
Will Barrett: The Princeton forward buried a three in the final seconds against Buffalo to seal the deal in the Ivy League”s most impressive victory of the day. Barrett had a career-high 20 points and 9 rebounds to lead the scoring for a Princeton squad that was offensively-challenged for much of the contest.
Gabas Maldunas: The sophomore big man was efficient and dominant–not a bad combo– as he scored 25 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in a workman”s 39 minutes for the Big Green. It”s hard not to root for the turnaround that seems to be underway up north.
Morgan: Yale”s sharpshooting guard had it going today, shooting 7-12 including six threes. Unfortunately, he missed a late free throw (he was 8-9 FT) that allowed Sacred Heart to tie the game with a two. That may be nit-picking but if Yale”s going to have a good year, Morgan”s margin for error on this inexperienced squad is very low.
Columbia backcourt wing: Columbia”s star point guard, Brian Barbour, picked up right where he left off– doing it all. Barbour tallied 19 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals in 37 minutes. His fellow guard, Steve Frankoski, who did not play last season, had 16 points and 5 rebounds. Alex Rosenberg followed up an impressive freshman season with 14 points on seven shots to go with 7 rebounds of his own. The Lions” trio outscored Furman on their own and held the opposition to one made three-pointer.
Others who impressed: Shonn Miller with 6 blocks, Galal Cancer with 7 assists and just one turnover, Miles Cartwright with 21 points, Patrick Lucas-Perry with a much-needed spark off the bench and 15 points, John Golden with 13 and 5.