Ivy League Tournament semifinals – men’s recap

No. 1 Harvard 74, No. 4 Cornell 55

Harvard (18-12, 13-2 Ivy) looked pretty shaky at first, getting sped up by Cornell’s aggressive defense, committing three turnovers in the first 3:20 and sending Cornell (12-16, 6-9) into the bonus 9:14 into the game. The Crimson trailed 28-21 with less than three minutes to go in the first half, shooting 2-for-11 from long range and struggling with a patient Cornell offense firing on all cylinders.

Then Harvard exploded from three-point land, making four triples in the final 2:45. Three were courtesy of Christian Juzang, who played skittish early in the game but settled into grab-and-shoot mode for two treys and then drilled a halfcourt shot off a Chris Lewis tip to beat the first-half buzzer and build a 37-32 halftime lead.

It was all Harvard from there, as the Crimson held Cornell to 27 points over the final 24:58 and added five more treys in the second stanza, including a lob pass-turned-three-pointer from Seth Towns, whose 24 points on 10-for-25 shooting and 12 rebounds led all players.

If the Crimson shoot like they did in the final 23 minutes versus Cornell Sunday, they stand very good odds of crashing their first Big Dance in three seasons.

No. 2 Penn 80, No. 3 Yale 57

The Red & Blue blasted Yale from wire to wire, avenging their 80-79 defeat in New Haven that cost them an outright Ivy League championship last weekend. Penn got to a 24-9 lead with 9:24 to go in the first half and didn’t look back, using superior off-ball movement and post play to gouge a lethargic Bulldogs defense inside all game long. Penn led 44-25 at halftime, at which point AJ Brodeur had 17 points and eight boards and Miye Oni was scoreless with a nightmare 0-for-10 shooting clip.

Penn’s lead was never seriously threatened again, ballooning to 71-42 midway through the second half. Yale shot 5-for-25 from three and 16-for-39 from two, never getting into any offensive rhythm. Brodeur posted 25 points on 10-for-13 shooting and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes, while senior Darnell Foreman added 11 points, eight boards and five assists in his next-to-last game at the Palestra. Penn even shot 15-for-16 from the foul line, a sure sign that Saturday was just its day.

Harvard and Yale were on spring break Saturday (so was Penn), probably contributing to what came across as a prominently quiet Palestra crowd during the first and even some of the second men’s semifinals. There was really only one competitive half of basketball (the first stanza of Cornell-Harvard), but the audience seemed to be relatively muted even then, not playing well at all on television. It’s ironic that the semifinals yielded two blowouts after just four of 56 regular season games were decided by 19 points or more, the least amount in Division I.

The Palestra will probably be rocking a little more Sunday at noon, when Penn and Harvard square off for the Ivy League Tournament final.