February 7, 2006

Penn's Rally Against Yale Highlights Ivy Basketball Slate

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Ivy League basketball stepped in into high gear this past weekend, as all eight squads faced conference opponents for the first time this season.

Yale had a shot at knocking off Penn – the final undefeated squad in the conference – but the overwhelming crowd inside Penn’s home court at The Palestra and a revitalized Quaker offense was enough to fend off the Bulldogs and preserve a perfect league mark.

There was a shift in the middle of the pack, as well, as Cornell and Princeton kept title hopes alive.

Penn 68, Brown 51

The Quakers (12-6, 4-0 Ivy) allowed the Bears (6-13, 2-4) the first bucket of the game at the Palestra on Friday night, but quickly reeled off 11 straight points to open up a lead they would hold onto for the rest of the game, en route to a 68-51 victory.

Penn’s cushion ballooned to 18 at halftime, and as much as 29 points in the second half. Although the Quakers were limited to 38 percent shooting from the floor, they made up for the poor shooting by connecting on 19-of-23 free throws and making 10 steals as a team.

Ibrahim Jaaber was the leading scorer for Penn on his 22nd birthday, ending the night with 18 points. Steve Danley added 14 points, while Brian Grandieri came off the Quaker bench to drop in 11. Mark MacDonald paced the Bears with 13 points, while Keenan Jeppesen and Scott Friske added 11 and 10, respectively.

Harvard 69, Columbia 59

The last-place Lions (8-11, 1-5) almost pulled off an upset against the Crimson (12-7, 4-2), as this battle in the Big Apple saw six ties and 10 lead changes before Harvard came up with an 18-9 run in the final minutes to pull out a 69-59 win Friday night. Each squad connected on 21 field goals and pulled down 38 boards and shot within two percentage points of each other from the field.

Columbia started strong out of the gates, opening up a 14-6 lead on its home court. The Crimson pulled even and the teams traded buckets down the stretch before Harvard’s Brian Cusworth hit a lay-up to break the sixth and final tie and spark the game-winning surge. Ben Nwachukwu and John Baumann paced the home team with 16 points apiece, while Nwachukwu grabbed 10 rebounds. Justin Armstrong added 13 points for the Lions.

Drew Housman led the charge for the Crimson with 20 points, while Matt Stehle was close behind with 18 and Jim Goffredo chipped in with 12.

Princeton 66, Yale 49

Scott Greenman was the big man on campus in Princeton, N.J., Friday night, erupting for a career-high 27 points to lead the Tigers (5-12, 3-1) past the Bulldogs (11-10, 3-3), 66-49. The senior, who has been battling injuries over the first half of the season, was 8-for-11 from the field, including 5-of-7 beyond the arc, and added five assists, four rebounds, and three steals to his final stat line. Despite his performance, the game was still close, as the Tigers trailed, 40-37, with 10 minutes remaining. But Princeton – which shot 50 percent from 3-point range – got two treys from reserve Michael Strittmatter to pull in front for good. Luke Owings added an even 10 points for the Tigers, while Dominick Martin led the Bulldogs with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Dartmouth 78, Columbia 68

A 22-14 run over 11 minutes in the second half pushed the Green (3-16, 1-5) to its first conference win of the season against Columbia in the Lions’ Levien Gymnasium. The victory gave the two squads identical 1-5 league records, while both are now tied for last place in the Ancient Eight standings. Baumann and Nwachukwu paced the Lions for the second night in a row, putting up 16 and 14 points, respectively. Brett Loscalzo added 10 points from the outside, matched by

10 from fellow guard Justin Armstrong.

Dartmouth’s Mike Lang and Michael Giovacchini had identical lines for the night, finishing with 16 points and seven assists each. Chuck Flynn added 11 points for the Green, which snapped a nine-game losing streak with the win over the Lions.

Penn 74, Yale 52

At the end of Saturday night, the Quakers walked away with a 74-52 victory over Yale, but early on the Bulldogs looked poised to knock off the last unbeaten team in the Ivy League, as they raced to a 16-1 lead at the 14:03 mark of the first half at the Palestra.

But Penn – which was 91-9 in its last 100 home games when it stepped onto the court against Yale – eventually pulled even on Jaaber’s 3-pointer to open the scoring in the second half. Jaaber’s trey was just his second field goal on the night, and was the most by a player wearing the Red and Blue to that point. However, Penn’s shooting woes were about to become a faint memory.

Just a few minutes later, Penn’s Eric Osmundson made a steal in the open court and broke away for an uncontested dunk, and the scoreboard read 70-44 in the Quakers’ favor with four minutes left to play. Osmundson’s bucket was the final touch on a 51-13 run that put the Bulldogs away for good.

Osmundson walked off the court as the Quakers’

leading scorer for the night, finishing with 17 points and five assists. Jaaber added 11 points, all in the second half, while Steve Danley contributed with 10.

Martin was the only Yale player in double digits, connecting for 18 points and pulling down eight rebounds.

Princeton 52, Brown 37

This game was over long before the clock ran out in Princeton’s Jadwin Gymnasium, as the Tigers held the Bears without a field goal over the first 11:41, forced eight Brown turnovers, and leaped out to a double-digit advantage 10 minutes into the game as Princeton downed Brown, 52-37.

The Tigers earned the weekend sweep after connecting on 10 3-pointers for the second consecutive night.

It was Noah Savage’s turn to shine for the Tigers, as he hit for 6-of-8 from 3-point range and finished with 23 points. Nearly half of the Bears’ points came at the charity stripe, where they were 18-for-21 – a striking contrast to a 9-for-35 performance from the field. Damon Huffman led Brown in the losing effort with 14 points.

Archived article by Olivia Dwyer
Sun Assistant Sports Editor