By halftime on Saturday night, the Penn Quakers had received word they would control their own destiny.
Thanks to a Columbia loss and Cornell and Princeton both winning big, all the Quakers needed was a win against Harvard to clinch their first ever Ivy League Tournament berth.
On Senior Night, with the game knotted up at 72, Jackson Donahue flashed to the right wing and drained a three with 6.3 seconds left. After the team failed to logically foul the Crimson, Siyani Chambers set up sophomore guard Corey Johnson, a 43 percent shooter from distance, but his shout bounced off the front of the rim and out.
Following Penn’s thrilling victory, the Ivy League’s first four-team conference tournament is all set and scheduled to be played this upcoming Saturday and Sunday.
Harvard, who had a tough weekend, dropping close games to both Princeton and Penn, is locked in as the 2 seed and will play the Yale Bulldogs in the first semifinal game. Harvard has won its previous two meetings between the two by convincing margins. The Crimson and their high-powered offense (ranked 1st in the Ivy) seem to outmatch a Yale team that has given up the second most points in league play.
Princeton finished league play undefeated, joining the Vermont Catamounts as the only two teams to go undefeated in league play this season. The Tigers will take on the four seed, Penn, who started league play 0-6.
The Quakers, who have struggled to score at times this season, could have trouble against Princeton’s elite defense. The Tigers have won 17 in a row while the Quakers are 6-2 in their last 8 and are coming off a win over Harvard to earn the four-seed in the field. Both teams will look to carry the momentum they generated at the end of the regular season into the tournament.
The top four teams head to the tournament sitting in the exact spots the preseason media poll had them in before the season began.
Rounding up the rest of the league
Cornell split its last two regular season games. After being trounced by Yale, the Big Red flipped the script, beating Brown to close out the year, 92-78.
Senior guard Robert Hatter finished 10th on Cornell’s all time leading scorer list after dropping 20 in his last collegiate game. Matt Morgan finished the season leading the Ivy in points per game.
Columbia ended up as the odd team out, missing a chance to play in the Ivy League tournament after a loss to Yale and a Penn win.
The Lions finished the season 11-16 (5-9 in Ivy play). Although he season ended in a disappointing fashion, the Lions and Jim Engles have a lot to look forward to next season.
Both Dartmouth and Brown proved their worth Friday night, knocking off the two teams vying for the last playoff spot (Penn and Columbia). Losses on Saturday put the two in a three-way tie with Cornell (4-10) for last in the conference.
The Ivy League tallied more three-point shots in League play than any other conference. Along with pesky defense, the team that emerges from the Ivy will be a tough matchup in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
– M. Roitman