Marisa Peryer

The Crimson survived another day, sending fourth-seed Penn back home to Philadelphia.

Defeating the No. 4 Quakers (19–12, 7–7 Ivy) by eight points in an Ivy Madness semifinal from Yale’s John J. Lee Amphitheater, No. 1 Harvard (18–10, 10–4) extended its season and stands just 40 minutes from the NCAA tournament. Junior guard Bryce Aiken led the Crimson with 19 points and four assists while first-year forward Kale Catchings grabbed nine boards in the victory. A double-double from Penn All-Ivy first team forward AJ Brodeur proved fruitless, as the junior’s 25 points and 10 rebounds could not give the Quakers the push they required in a defensive second half.

With a raucous section of friends and family, Harvard appeared to own the momentum prior to the opening tip off, but the Quakers erupted with a strong early start. Forward Max Rothschild converted a layup in the paint on his team’s first possession, and Penn expanded its lead to 7–0 after the senior’s initial bucket. Its advantage ballooned to 14–4 with a little more than 13 minutes remaining in the frame, but contributions from across the Crimson’s starting lineup — including a combined fourteen first-half points from forward Chris Lewis and guard Christian Juzang — helped Harvard tie the game at 23 about five minutes later.

The Crimson took its first lead of the game on a three-pointer from Ivy League Rookie of the Year Noah Kirkwood. The 6-foot-7 rookie forward shook Penn guard Jackson Donahue with a fake pass to the corner and then drilled a triple to give Harvard a 31–28 advantage. The two teams traded triples late in the first half, and although Penn shot six of 12 in the period from beyond the arc, the Crimson managed to enter the locker room with a 36–34 lead. Brodeur led all first-half scorers with 13, converting numerous tough layups inside and leaking out for a much-needed make from beyond the three-point arc. He also paced the Quakers with a half-high six rebounds. Aiken led Harvard with nine first-half points.

The second half saw the see-saw affair continue, but the Crimson managed to pull away late in the contest with tough shots from Aiken and stifling defense inside on Brodeur. The hard-nosed Quakers battled for loose balls and forced Harvard turnovers, but the talent of Harvard proved too much to keep up with down the stretch. When the dust cleared, the Crimson fans started a chant of “We want Yale!” as the score cemented itself at 66–58.

Almost the entire Yale program took in the first half from stands on the JLA baseline. Head coach James Jones sat in between his son and manager Brooks Chupp ’19. Many of his assistant coaches sat a few rows below, while some players wearing hoodies and sweatpants scattered the seats around them. Some Princeton players filed into stands on the other side of the gym to watch midway through the first half. 

Harvard will meet either No. 2 Yale or No. 3 Princeton, who play today at 3 p.m., in Sunday’s Ivy League championship. The Bulldogs are an eleven-point favorite. 

William McCormack | william.mccormack@yale.edu

Cristofer Zillo | cris.zillo@yale.edu