This weekend it was the Ivy League’s two most famous brands carrying the banner for the league on the hardwood with a pair of easy victories. Princeton suffered another under-20 half after a good first half at Wake and lost by 19, while Dartmouth couldn’t recover from a huge early deficit against a good Hofstra team at The Garden. And then there was Cornell getting pantsed at Bucknell…
Playing without Brian Cusworth (hand) and Jim Goffredo (staph infection), Harvard took down America East favorite Albany on the road by a comfortable margin. Matt Stehle continued to play well for the Crimson, and Drew Housman put himself in the early lead in the Ivy League Rookie of the Year race with another strong performance. Housman was a big part of a 19-2 first-half run that turned a four-point deficit into a 13-point lead for the Crimson. During that seven-minute stretch the freshman scored nine points on 4-for-4 shooting, grabbed two rebounds, dished out two assists, and swiped two steals. Brad Unger came off the bench to score 11 points in 20 minutes, which softened the blow of missing Cusworth. Harvard has now won two straight and may get its big man back this week.
Cavalry arrives at Yale
While Harvard was playing shorthanded, Yale was finally getting back to full strength. Dominick Martin had to sit out the fall semester as a result of eligibility issues remaining from his transfer to Yale from Princeton. Martin is the Bulldogs’ leading returning scorer (12.8 point per game) and rebounder (7.6 per game) and one of the top big men in the league. Martin logged 18 minutes off the bench in his first game back, but was very productive in his time on the floor, scoring 14 points and grabbing 5 boards. The story of the game for Yale was its shooting (53.1 percent), which enabled the Bulldogs to overcome a very sloppy 20 turnovers in 70 possessions on the afternoon. The poor official scorer had a stressful afternoon, as between the two teams, 21 players played ten minutes or more.
Princeton doomed by another poor half
Harvard wasn’t the only Ivy team missing important players on the road on Saturday. Scott Greenman’s back injury kept him in street clothes and Luke Owings was confined to the locker room with illness. Still, the Tigers played much better than their previous outing, even holding a lead 15 minutes into the game. It was just a three-point game in the final minute of the first half until the Demon Deacons hit a three-pointer, forced a turnover, and hit another three-pointer in the final seconds before intermission. While the margin ballooned due to a 15-0 Wake Forest run down the stretch, the Princeton offense executed well at times and generated some nice looks, which the Tigers did a good job of knocking down. Now Wake Forest is nowhere close to the 16th best team in the country as its ranking suggests, but it was great to see Princeton play a decent game on the road against a respectable major conference opponent. The only downer on the afternoon was another poor performance by Noah Savage, who shot 1 for 12 for the game.
No Garden party for Big Green
Ivy teams actually had fared pretty well at Madison Square Garden of late, winning four of their last five games there prior to Saturday. Dartmouth fell behind 15-2 and was never really in the game against Hofstra at The World’s Most Famous Arena. Cal Arnold sparked the Big Green with nine straight points, but Dartmouth still trailed by 11, which was as close as it would get the rest of the way. Freshman DeVon Mosley had a breakout game with 10 points and six assists off the bench in relief of Michael Giovacchini at the point. Leon Pattman once again led the Big Green in scoring, despite having a rough day shooting the ball at just 4 of 12 from the field. Terry Dunn’s crew had problems keeping Hofstra off the offensive boards, allowing the Pride to grab 42.1 percent of the rebounds off its own misses.
Cornell gets throttled
If Cornell’s post-exam break debut were an arrival at an awards ceremony, the Big Red would have caught its heel on a seam in the red carpet, fallen out of its dress, and landed face-first in something left on the sidewalk by a negligent dog owner — with an army of paparazzi present. After a decent start that saw Cornell play Bucknell to a draw over the first 6:43, the Bison went man-to-man defensively and Cornell fell apart. The hosts ended the half with a 41-7 run that made a laugher out of the game. Lenny Collins had a really rough afternoon. The All-Ivy senior shot just 4 of 15 with no assists and six turnovers and appeared to be forcing things. The Big Red’s offense looked completely out of sync and they couldn’t do anything to stop Bucknell at the other end. The only good news for Cornell is that a Tuesday date with Army won’t give it much time to dwell on the disaster.
Dartmouth (1-4) at Quinnipiac (4-3) – 7:00 pm – NESN (DirecTV channel 623)
The strong end to last season hasn’t carried over to this year for Terry Dunn’s crew. The only win so far came at home over 2-7 UC Davis, and Dartmouth has to be disappointed with its performance in each of the three games since. Tonight’s opponent, Quinnipiac, looks much improved from past seasons. The Bobcats are 4-3, and could easily be 7-0, as two of their losses are by a combined 11 points and the third was in overtime. Quinnipiac loves to get out and run, and doesn’t take very good care of the ball, while Dartmouth will look to slow things down and prevent turnovers. The Bobcats’ biggest defensive weakness is a penchant for fouling, but Dartmouth is one of the worst teams in the nation at getting to the stripe. The three numbers to watch in this one are Quinnipiac’s turnovers, Dartmouth’s free throw attempts, and the three-point field goal differential. On the comparative score tip, Quinnipiac won 55-45 at Cornell back on December 2.