First-place Penn made their dominance in the Ancient Eight official this weekend by taking two wins and nailing down the Ivy League Championship. Elsewhere around the league, Harvard and Dartmouth swept their weekends to move up to a tie at second place with Cornell. In the bottom half of the league, inconsistency prevailed with Princeton and Cornell splitting their contests and some teams that had success last week, like Brown, ending up with little to show for their efforts.
Penn (17-8, 10-1 Ivy)
Led by sophomore guard Ibrahim Jaaber, the Quakers swept their weekend to emerge as the outright 2004-2005 Ivy champions and secured a bid for the NCAA tournament. Their tenth conference win of the season came against Columbia in New York. Jaaber and Tim Begley were unstoppable, scoring 26 and 24 points, respectively. Begley also broke Penn’s career three-point record as he nailed his 245th three. The Quakers came out of halftime strong to take a 55-37 lead with 10 minutes to go. The Lions came back to cut the lead to seven points, but could not find a way to get any closer than that, even with home-court advantage. On Friday in Ithaca, Jaaber led the Quakers to a 66-49 win over Cornell, collecting 14 points, six rebounds and five steals.
Cornell (12-13, 7-5)
It was a so-so weekend for the Big Red, who got rolled by the Quakers only to come back on Saturday to rally from a nine-point halftime deficit to beat Princeton 52-49. On Friday, the Big Red struggled to overcome Penn’s defense as only one player, sophomore Andrew Naeve, scored in double-digits and the team shot 35.3 percent from the floor. After scoring only six points on Friday, Cody Toppert surged on Saturday against the Tigers by scoring 15 points to lead Cornell to the victory. With the win, the Big Red swept the season series with the Tigers for the first time in 20 years. Toppert was 5-for-10 from beyond the three-point line to set a new Cornell record with 234 career three-pointers. The big comeback for the Big Red in the second-half was secured by stronger shooting, including 42.1 percent from the field, 44.4 percent three-point shooting and 14-of-14 shooting on free throws.
Harvard (12-13, 7-5)
After struggling to put opponents away the past couple of weekends, the Crimson finished this last weekend up with convincing wins over Yale and Brown on the road. Brian Cusworth was the Crimson’s go-to guy in each of the wins, netting 40 points total this weekend. On Friday in New Haven, Cusworth’s 21 points and 11 rebounds contributed to Harvard’s 82-66 put-down of the Bulldogs. On Saturday, at Lavietes Pavilion in Providence, Cusworth dominated again with 19 points in the 80-68 victory. Cusworth was assisted by forward Matt Stehle, who had 16 points and 13 rebounds for his ninth double-double. The win gave Harvard a season sweep of the Bears. The Crimson got out to an early lead and never gave it up, limiting the Bears to 33.3 percent shooting.
Dartmouth (10-15, 7-5)
The Big Green had a big weekend by extending their win streak to five games. On Friday, senior Mike McLaren and junior Mike Lang scored 18 points apiece to lead the Big Green over Brown, 66-64. Tied at 24 at halftime, the two teams fought for a lead in the second-half, but the Big Green went on a 21-7 run to take a lead that they would not relinquish throughout. On Saturday, the Big Green edged the Bulldogs, 53-52.
Princeton (13-12, 4-7)
It was more ups and downs for the Tigers, the preseason favorite to win the league that lately has only been able to count on its inconsistency. Friday night, they swept the season series with Columbia for the fourth straight year by winning, 68-59. Leading 34-32 at the half, the Tigers allowed the Lions to come back as the teams went on mini-runs. When the Tigers took a 53-50 lead and went on a 10-0 run, they virtually secured the win. Luke Owings led the Tigers with 19 points, 14 of which came in the second half. Scott Greenman backed Owings up by scoring 15 points. Saturday, the Tigers could not find a way to score and finish the Big Red off at the end of the game, falling 52-49.
Brown (10-15, 3-8)
Despite stellar efforts by Jason Forte, the Bears were not able to get another win. Forte led the Bears with 23 points and eight rebounds while Sam Manhanga finished with 16 points and seven rebounds. But when it counted, at the end of the second half, the Bears could not find a way to shut down the Big Green. Forte had a chance to tie it up with two free throws, but after he missed the first one and purposefully missed the second one, the Bears could not get off a last second shot and lost, 66-64. After the close loss to the Big Green, the Bears had to face a tough Crimson squad on Saturday and lost 80-68. Forte led all scorers with 28 points.
Columbia (12-13, 3-9)
John Baumann led the Lions in both games this weekend, but the freshman could not carry the entire team and the Lions were caged twice. Baumann scored 14 points against the Tigers in a game where the lead changed hands many times. The Lions out-rebounded the Tigers 26-17, but Princeton won 68-59. Baumann had another good night against the Quakers, scoring a career-high 17 points. But the Lion defense was not strong enough, and a 27-4 Penn run put Columbia away.