The Big Three were challenged last night, but each withstood the upset bid, as they solidified their spots in the top half of the league standings.
No. 25 Cornell trailed early in the second half, as Matt Mullery and Tucker Halpern had big nights for Brown to keep the Bears hanging in the contest. The Bears were ultimately undone by their inability to grab offensive boards (they had just one on the contest), as the Big Red pulled away for a 14-point win.
Princeton also trailed early in the second half, but the Tigers offense came alive after the break, doubling up Dartmouth over the final 20 minutes for a 54-38 win.
Harvard appeared to have the most comfortable route to victory, but Penn charged back to pull within six before the Crimson put it away down the stretch.
Here’s a quick look at where each team stands through two full weekends of league play:
The Big Red finally had a cold-shooting night from distance, but it didn’t matter, as Jeff Foote took over on the interior for 17 points on an 8-for-12 performance from the field.
That likely won’t be the last icy performance from long range for Cornell, but what is clear is that there are only a few teams in the league that have the firepower to even take advantage. As long as the Big Red avoids one of those lapses at Jadwin or Lavietes, or maybe to a lesser extent, The Church, Cornell should have a good chance of going undefeated in the league. But Princeton, Harvard and Yale all can defend the paint well, meaning that the Big Red will be less likely to be bailed out with interior scoring if it’s having off night from behind the arc.
Clearly some offense was taken by the folks in Princeton with all the buzz about a two horse race for the Ivy title. The Tigers artfully handled their brutal four-game road trip to start league play, navigating their second- and third-toughest road dates on the schedule to keep pace with league-leading Cornell.
Now Princeton has seven of its final 10 at home, including its first date with Cornell this Saturday. The Tigers have played amazing defense, which they’ll need against the Big Red, as Cornell ranks 36th nationally in offensive efficiency.
Dueling storylines for the Crimson, and they work in opposite directions.
The bad news first: the status of two Harvard forwards is uncertain (Keith Wright – achilles; Pat Magnarelli – ankle) and a third missed last weekend’s games with pneumonia (Andrew Van Nest). Magnarelli could be back soon, but the status of Wright’s injury is unknown. The Crimson is in a little better position to handle the losses than it was last year, so a complete freefall isn’t likely, but without Magnarelli and Wright, this team is nowhere close to the one that stormed to a Top 50 RPI in non-conference play.
The good news for the Harvard program is the strong student support the team has garnered, especially over this past weekend. For a school which has rarely been able to fill up one of the nation’s tiniest gyms, a boisterous student section brought Lavietes to life, getting strongly behind a hard-charging Crimson team during its attempted comeback against Princeton.
One of the more intriguing teams in the league right now, Yale has rebounded nicely after dropping its home league opener to Brown.
The Bulldogs dropped two to league leaders Princeton and Cornell, but impressed in wins over Brown, Penn and Columbia. The upcoming schedule is brutal with two against Harvard and one against Princeton surrounding two against Dartmouth and a potentially tricky game at The Palestra.
Yale boasts a bunch of forwards with above average efficiency ratings and a streaky star in Alex Zampier, which makes it just dangerous enough to battle the top teams, but too inconsistent to get into the race in earnest.
Like Princeton, the Quakers started with four-straight road league games, and like the Tigers performed above expectations, splitting the quartet and hanging around the middle of the league standings.
Zack Rosen has established himself as an unstoppable force in the league and Penn is starting to get solid contributions from its reserves-turned-starters like Dan Monckton. What once was talk of one or two league wins has been replaced by the possibility of a fourth- or fifth-place league finish, especially since the Quakers have seven of their final 10 at home.
After bouncing back nicely from an 0-3 hole with a couple wins over Dartmouth and Brown, Columbia couldn’t complete the march back to .500 as it fell behind the Bulldogs huge early and never recovered.
The Lions now face the prospect of six of their final eight on the road with one of the last two home games against Princeton. Noruwa Agho has become a true star, but without Patrick Foley, Columbia becomes less dynamic offensively and will struggle to win games.
Forwards Matt Mullery and Tucker Halpern have each played well in Ivy play, but the rest of the Bears have struggled, as the team has sunk to near the bottom of the league standings.
Brown’s inability to grab offensive boards and force turnovers on defense has become almost comical. The Bears are among the bottom five nationally in both categories.
The Bears have a pair of games remaining against Dartmouth and still have enough offensive weapons to hang with the lower half of the league, but it appears that this year’s finish will be much like the last.
The Big Green missed its best opportunity to pick up a league win, falling by two to Penn at Leede Arena.
Ken Pomeroy now has Dartmouth going 1-13 in the league and 21 percent to go winless in the Ivies. After showing some brief spunk after the firing of Terry Dunn, the Big Green’s offense has sunk back to its efficiency level under the former coach.
The defense has been decent, but without the ability to score points in any consistent manner, it’s really hard to see Dartmouth posting a win in league play.