Slowly but surely, Princeton put distance between itself and second place University of Pennsylvania after beating Cornell on Saturday. The same night, Big Red settled into third after losing to Penn and Brown pummeled Harvard in a high-scoring shoot-out.
The previous night, the Quakers devastated Columbia, which after a promising start has now dropped to sixth in the Ivy League.
Penn 84, Cornell 69
The Quakers and Big Red did not fail to please the crowd in a fast-paced match-up at the Palestra Friday night.
Penn guard Jeff Schiffner led the Quakers with 24 points on the day and the Penn defense held the Ivy scoring leader — guard Ka’Ron Barnes (21 points per game coming into Saturday night) — to only 10 points. Penn also hit a season-high 14 threes on the day and scored 50 points in the second half.
Both teams were unstoppable on the offensive end in the second frame — Penn shot 55 percent from the floor while Cornell sank a whopping 63 percent.
The Big Red came out of the intermission with an 11-2 run to take a small 37-36 lead with 16 minutes left to play. But a three-point play from Quaker forward Steve Danley ignited a 17-1 Penn run, giving the hosts a 60-45 advantage, their biggest lead of the game.
Cornell showed no fear and responded with a 15-5 run to cut the lead to six with less than five minutes in session. But four straight points from Penn guard Ibrahim Jaaber and a three from guard Tim Begley shut the Big Red down for good.
Penn, which shot 92 percent from the line in the second half, hit seven-of-eight free throws in the final 1:11 to complete its 12th straight victory over Cornell.
Schiffner opened the game with a conventional three to trigger an early 8-2 Quaker lead. Another three by guard Charlie Copp at the 14:46 mark gave Penn a 13-6 lead. Cornell kept the game alive, scoring the next six points to put it within one. Both teams stayed close until the last three minutes of the first frame, when the Quakers held the Big Red from scoring for the remainder of the half. Penn took advantage of the opportunity and finished the half with a 34-26 lead.
Princeton 59, Cornell 46
It looks like smooth sailing for Princeton from now on.
The Tigers clutched tighter the top spot in the Ivy standings after defeating Cornell, and looking ahead, will be facing seventh-ranked Harvard and eighth-ranked Dartmouth next weekend. All Princeton needs to do is win two of its last three games and it will win the Ancient Eight title and earn the league’s automatic NCAA tournament berth.
Tiger forward Andre Logan led Princeton with 12 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. Princeton led 27-18 during halftime and continued to feed the lead with a 9-0 run early in the second half to take a 36-20 lead on a free throw from forward Judson Wallace with 17:10 left.
Cornell trimmed the lead down to 42-33 on a dunk by forward Eric Taylor with 11:37 left, but the Tigers scored eight straight points afterwards to build an insurmountable 50-33 lead with less than seven minutes to play.
Princeton never trailed in the match, leading 5-0 at the start of the first half. Cornell would close up within 19-15 with 4:45 left in the half, but the Tigers scored six points afterwards to take a 10-point lead shortly before halftime.
Barnes led the Big Red with 14 points but only shot only four-for-12 from the field.
Brown 100, Harvard 83
Saturday night’s match at the Pizzitola Sports Center was just another good-old-fashioned Ivy men’s basketball game — one where the two sides combined for 183 points.
Brown guards Patrick Powers and Jason Forte led the Bears scoring 27 and 24 points respectively.
Guard Mike Martin’s free throws early in the second half gave the Bears an intimidating 63-39 lead with 18 minutes left in the game. Harvard pulled within 18 points, 74-56, midway through the frame. But minutes later, the Crimson would suffer its largest deficit of the contest, 82-56, after Forte hit two free throws to cap off an 8-0 Bears run.
The Crimson converted 16-of-20 free throws to try to keep up with the Bears, but they never seriously threatened Brown’s overwhelming lead.
The Bears opened a 29-10 run early in the first half to take a 45-24 lead with less than seven minutes before halftime. Powers led the charge, scoring 11 points over a two minute span. Crimson Matt Stehle scored six of his 22 points in the final minutes of the first half to cut his squad’s deficit down to 52-37. But the Bears closed out the frame with five unanswered points to take half 57-37.
Brown shot 62.5 percent from the court while Harvard shot only 46 percent. Guard Kevin Rogus led the Crimson with 28 points, followed by Stehle with 22.
Penn 64, Columbia 50
Sometimes a little bit goes a long way.
Penn’s 64 points, a little over half its tally for the previous night, notched its lowest point-total victory since Dec. 29, 2003.
The Quakers shot only 42 percent on the field for the day, but held Columbia to its lowest point total as well. The Lions shot only 19-of-53 from the floor and 5-for-20 behind the arc.
Penn took its biggest lead of the game, 53-30, after two shots from the line by Jaaber with 12:06 left in regulation. After that point, the Lions never got closer than 14.
Columbia started the match with a 4-2 lead until Schiffner and forward Mark Zoller hit consecutive threes to give Penn a lead it would never relinquish.
A 3-pointer by Columbia guard Dragutin Kravic closed the gap to 26-20 with four minutes before the half, but Begley scored nine points on a 13-3 Penn run to give the Quakers a 39-23 edge at the end of the frame.
Five Penn players finished scoring in double-digits. Schiffner led the Quakers with 12 points, Jaaber and Zoller had 11 each, and Begley and center Adam Chubb each chipped in 10. Kravic had 11 points for Columbia.