The 2004-2005 season is well underway, and Ivy League teams begin league play in four weeks. Columbia’s program continued to show signs of a remarkable turnaround as the Lions remain on top of the Ivy League after a 75-61 drubbing of Lehigh Monday night. But the most remarkable story of the week may be the resurgence of Brown, which followed four straight losses to start the season with three straight wins, rocketing out of the Ivy League basement.
In the wake of a November statement by new Athletic Director M. Diane Murphy that blasted the university’s “tradition of losing,” Columbia has roared out to an Ivy League-best 4-1 record. After a 77-73 loss to Stony Brook Nov. 27 broke the Lions’ three-game season-opening winning streak, a postponed game against Hofstra gave the team nine days to prepare to face Lehigh Monday night. Columbia began the game with a 14-0 run, and, led by senior Matt Preston’s 17 points, rolled over the Mountain Hawks 75-61 in Bethlehem, Pa. Preston, a second team all-Ivy selection last season, is third in the Ivy League this year with 17.6 points per game for the Lions, who square off next against Sacred Heart Thursday night at home in Morningside Heights.
Penn rattled off its third victory in a row Saturday night against fellow Philadelphian La Salle University as they squared off in the Big Five Classic, a tourney involving all Division I schools in the area. Three days earlier, the Quakers held off a second-quarter rally to put away Bucknell 65-52, extending their winning streak against Patriot League teams to a remarkable 19 games. Senior Tim Begley scored a career-high 29 points against La Salle in the 78-67 victory, and after ranking ninth in the nation in three-point shooting in 2003-2004, is shooting at a 48 percent clip through the first five games this season. Penn, with the second-best record in the Ivy League, stays close to home in its upcoming games, facing Temple and Villanova next.
After an ugly 40-38 victory over Lafayette last week, Princeton survived an equally trying battle with Holy Cross last Wednesday in Worcester, Mass. The Tigers led 52-43 with 2:39 left, but the Crusaders stormed back, scoring seven unanswered points to cut the Princeton lead to two. Sean Greenman, who led the Tigers with 17 points, hit two free throws in the final six seconds to nail down the 56-53 win. Princeton returns to action tonight, taking on in-state rival Rutgers.
The Bears recovered from a dreadful 0-4 start, reeling off three straight wins beginning with a 76-60 victory over Wagner last Wednesday. Brown won in thrilling fashion over Binghamton Friday night, in a game that had 14 lead changes in the second half alone. With the score tied 77-77, the Bears forced a shot clock violation to get the ball back, and sophomore guard Marcus Becker tipped in a missed three-pointer as time ran out to seal the 79-77 triumph. Brown had an easier time disposing of Hartford Monday night, with senior guard Jason Forte leading the charge with 24 points. Forte currently leads the Ivy League in scoring, averaging 19.8 points per game.
The Big Red has kept busy, playing four games in the past week. Cornell edged out crosstown rival Ithaca 67-65, nearly blowing a 13-point lead in the last minute. But the Big Red could not respond to a 10-2 Quinnipiac run late in the second half, and fell to the Bobcats 83-76 in Hamden last Wednesday. Forward Eric Taylor and guard Lenny Collins, second in the Ivy League with 18.6 points per game, combined for 31 points to subdue St. Bonaventure 58-54, securing their first win over a Division I team this season. Collins added another 17 in a 75-72 win over Lafayette Monday night, and the Big Red get a break before squaring off against Bucknell Dec. 18.
Dartmouth’s woes continued with a 79-59 pounding at the hands of Hartford, their third loss in a row. The Big Green trailed as badly as 57-28 early in the second half but found hope in an 18-0 run sparked by freshman forward Chuck Flynn, whose 13 points all in the second half, led the Dartmouth effort. At 1-3, the Big Green hope to have better luck staying in-state, taking on Keene State and New Hampshire later this week.
The Crimson remain in the Ivy League basement, with only a single win against Northeastern in their first five contests. Harvard nearly had its second victory in hand last Wednesday against New Hampshire, but a three-pointer with two seconds left in regulation by Wildcat freshman guard Chris Vetrano sent the game into overtime. UNH ran away in overtime, outscoring the Crimson 14-7 to send them back to Cambridge 67-60 losers. Matt Stehle and Brian Cusworth, first and second respectively in Ivy League rebounding, combined for 33 points in the losing effort.