Observations from Ivy Madness

Princeton enjoyed the largest contingent of fans at Lavietes Pavilion throughout Ivy Madness. (photo by Erica Denhoff)

From the notebook of IHO writer Richard Kent on the scene at Ivy Madness: 

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Ivy Madness reporter’s notebook: Day 3

Princeton women’s basketball’s post-Ivy League Tournament final press conference was one of several revealing pressers during Ivy Madness. (photo by Rob Browne)

 

“This is the business we’ve chosen.” – Brian Earl and Hyman Roth

“We played for, I would say, a good 15 minutes tonight, but that’s not good enough against a good program.” – Columbia head coach Megan Griffith, following the Lions defeat to top-seeded Princeton

No matter what the coaches who did not earn victories on Saturday thought, I felt there were three really good games of college basketball on display at Lavietes Pavilion, including a fantastic opener that saw Princeton escape an upset big from Cornell, 77-73.  Hopefully, West Coast fans woke up at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning to catch it.

Here are some random thoughts and observations from the Ancient Eight’s Super Saturday:

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No. 2 Yale men outlast No. 1 Princeton to win Ivy League Tournament, clinch NCAA Tournament berth

Senior guard Azar Swain came on strong in the second half in Yale’s Ivy League Tournament final win over Princeton Sunday. Swain registered 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting from the field, including 3-for-6 shooting from three-point range, in the second stanza. (photo by Erica Denhoff)

 

The Bulldogs are headed back to the Big Dance.

Yale men’s basketball earned its third NCAA Tournament berth in five opportunities since 2016 with a 66-64 win over Princeton in the Ivy League Tournament final Sunday afternoon at Lavietes Pavilion.

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Four takeaways from the super Saturday semifinals at the Ivy League Tournament

Ivy Player of the Year Tosan Evbuomwan came through in the clutch in Princeton’s Ivy League Tournament semifinal win over Cornell, scoring 14 points in the final 10:14. (photo by Erica Denhoff)

After watching two scintillating semifinal games in the men’s basketball tournament at Lavietes Pavilion on Saturday, here are four takeaways from the perspective of a diehard Princeton fan:

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No. 1 Princeton women declaw No. 2 Columbia, 77-59, to win Ivy League Tournament and earn NCAA Tournament berth

Princeton celebrates its Ivy League Tournament title and automatic NCAA Tournament berth secured via a 77-59 win over Columbia at Lavietes Pavilion Saturday evening. (photo by Rob Browne)

The Princeton women showed off all the things that make them the cream of the Ivies Saturday as they declawed the No. 2 Columbia Lions, 77-59, in the Ivy Madness final.

The Tigers (24-4) head to the NCAA tournament undefeated in Ivy play, having won all but one league game — the dramatic semifinal against Harvard, this year’s tournament host — by double digits.

“The Tigers were just locked in to the game plan, to the scouting report, what we needed to do, what we thought would make us successful out there,” Princeton coach Carla Berube said. ”

Guard Kaitlyn Chen — in her first year of college play, like other Ivy sophomores — scored a career-high 30 points for the Tigers on 9-for-13 shooting plus 11 of 14 free throws and was named the tournament MVP.

Chen was just listening to her teammates.

“It definitely helps knowing my teammates have my back and they’re always there for me, and they keep telling me to shoot,” Chen said.

“I’m just glad, coach, thank you, that we got Kaitlyn Chen, because she’s an absolute baller at both ends of the court,” Ivy Player of the Year Abby Meyers said.

Meyers and Julia Cunningham had 16 points apiece, and Grace Stone had 12. The Tigers shot 48% from the field and collected 23 points on free throws as the Lions struggled to catch up.

Coach Megan Griffith’s Columbia team (22-6, 12-2 in the regular Ivy season) managed to come back twice. After facing an early deficit, they finished the first quarter tied at 16 and pushed to a three-point lead early in the second. And after Princeton built a 17-point lead in the third quarter, Columbia’s Abbey Hsu and Jaida Patrick combined for key baskets to make things interesting. Hsu finished with 16 points and Patrick with 13, and Columbia had a more than respectable 42% shooting night. That included 36% on threes — but the Tigers were more efficient there, too, at 46%.

What Columbia couldn’t do for any stretch of time was evade Princeton’s relentless defense, and frustration also seemed to contribute to the Lions’ 20 turnovers (to just eight for the Tigers). Princeton blocked six shots and committed nine steals.

“I’m not happy with that effort. They shouldn’t be either,” Griffith said of her players. “We played for, I would say, a good 15 minutes tonight. That’s not good enough against a good program. You’ve just got to want it more and you’ve got to show up, and we didn’t do that today.”

Meyers was the game’s only starter not expected to return next season, positioning Princeton and Columbia well for future matchups with more Ivy hardware on the line.

“I think you’re going to see a lot of great competitions between Columbia and Princeton in the future,
Griffith said. “I’m personally looking forward to that. I love a good rivalry … Penn and Princeton kind of had that in the last decade or so, but I do think that we are right there and you will see us in this rivalry for a long time to come.”

“They really have a great nucleus that [was] out there,” Berube said. ” … Yeah, I think it could be a really good rivalry for a lot of years.”

For now, though, the Tigers are top cats in the Ivy League, and they now turn their attention to the Big Dance.

“I’m just thinking about all these pieces that have been so monumental to get us at this place and it’s been such a great journey,” Berube said. “And I just don’t want it to end.”

 

No. 1 Princeton men survive No. 4 Cornell, 77-73, to advance to Ivy League Tournament final

Ivy Player of the Year Tosan Evbuomwan lived up to that honor down the stretch of Princeton’s 77-73 Ivy League Tournament semifinal win over Cornell, scoring 14 points in the final 10:14 to lead the Tigers to victory. (photo by Erica Denhoff)

No. 1 Princeton and No. 4 Cornell combined to give us one of the best games in Ivy League Tournament history Saturday.

But it was the Tigers who drew final blood against the Big Red, advancing to the tournament final, with Player of the Year Tosan Evbuomwan hitting the game-winning shot with 36 seconds left to push Princeton past a persistent Cornell squad in a 77-73 barnburner.

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“We’re not done”: Columbia throttle Yale in Ivy League Tournament women’s semifinal

Columbia junior forward Hannah Pratt and the Lions savored their Ivy League Tournament semifinal romp over Yale at Lavietes Pavilion Friday. (photo by Erica Denhoff)
The time-honored expression that it is difficult to beat a team three times in a season was debunked by Columbia Friday night in the second Ivy League Tournament semifinal at Lavietes Pavilion.
The high-flying Lions completed the season sweep with a 67-38 wire-to-wire win.
“I hope you all enjoyed watching Columbia play today,” Columbia coach Megan Griffith said to open the Lions’ postgame press conference. “We’re not done.”

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No. 1 Princeton hangs on to top No. 4 Harvard in Ivy League Tournament women’s semifinal

Princeton senior guard Abby Meyers posted 22 points and seven rebounds in Princeton’s 72-67 Ivy League Tournament semifinal win over Harvard Friday. (photo by Erica Denhoff)

When hostilities got underway in the first Ivy League Tournament action in three years, it was obvious that the Crimson were inspired by the gravity of the situation. They gave the Tigers all they could handle.

In the end, however, the Tigers held on in the closest Ivy game in Carla Berube’s two-season career at Princeton, 72-67. The Tigers needed six straight free throws from Kaitlyn Chen and Grace Stone in the closing moments.

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Ivy League Tournament: Women’s semifinals preview

 

“Is there even a clock in March?” – Yale head coach Allison Guth in response to a question about the possibility of playing two games against higher seeds in 26 hours

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Cornell men finish regular season with convincing victory over Columbia

Saturday’s regular season finale didn’t mean much for the Cornell men, but in a different way than they are used to. The Big Red had already clinched the No. 4 seed in next weekend’s Ivy League Tournament and could not improve their standing in any way.

But Cornell did gain more of one thing — momentum.

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