Sports | Men's Basketball

Men's basketball teams kick off Ivy League slate

As winter breaks ended and new semesters began across the Ivy League, the men’s basketball teams began league play in varying ways. After the first game of the 14-game tournament, Harvard, Penn, Yale, and Columbia are on top.

Ivy League favorite Harvard (14-3, 1-0 Ivy) won its Ivy opener at home against Dartmouth, 61-45, as guard Brandyn Curry led the way with 17 points and six assists in the absence of star swingman Wesley Saunders. Unfortunately for the Crimson, the victory was sandwiched between losses at Connecticut and Florida Atlantic, likely making an Ivy League title its only viable path to the NCAA tournament.

Forward Gabas Maldunas led the way for Dartmouth (7-8, 0-1 Ivy), putting up 23 points in the loss. The Big Green has dropped four straight to begin 2014.

The biggest upset so far in 2014 belongs to Penn (3-11, 1-0 Ivy). The Quakers knocked off rival Princeton, 77-74, in their Ivy opener at the Palestra on Jan. 11. The Quakers entered the game as heavy underdogs riding a seven-game losing streak, but received big performances from guard Tony Hicks and center Darien Nelson-Henry. Forward Fran Doughertyput up 17 points and managed to grab 12 rebounds, which earned him Ivy Player of the Week honors.

Princeton (11-3, 0-1 Ivy), which had won 10 of 11 entering the contest, was able to erase an 11-point second-half point deficit and tie the game with a wide-open three by forward Will Barrett with 22 seconds remaining. But after Penn knocked down a pair of free throws, the Tigers were unable to get the game-winning shot in a frantic finish. Princeton’s struggles from beyond the arc in the first half—the Tigers were 2-for-11 from three—created the early deficit. After time off for finals, the Tigers will host Kean on Sunday before reopening conference play in a key tilt at Harvard on Jan. 31.

Yale (7-8, 1-0 Ivy) knocked off Brown at home, 74-67, in the teams’ Ivy opener last Saturday. The Bulldogs were led by Ivy Co-Player of the Week forward Justin Sears, who scored 14 second-half points and nailed key free throws to clinch the Bulldog victory. Sears—Yale’s leading scorer—had struggled in his last four games, and the Elis dropped three of them.

In the loss, Brown (8-7, 0-1 Ivy) was led by guard Sean McGonagill’s 17 points, as has typically been the case this season. But despite being down one point with 2:21 to play, the Bears’ 19 turnovers were too much to overcome. Still, the Bears can take solace in the fact that a Brown guard has earned Ivy Rookie of the Week honors in each of the three previous weeks—Steven Spieth for the week of Dec. 30 and Norman Hobbie for the weeks of Jan. 6 and 13. 

Cornell (1-14, 0-1 Ivy) has been nearly as cold on the court this season as the subzero temperatures in Ithaca this week. Cornell allowed 81.1 points per game in during its nonconference slate this season, failing to win a Division I game—a feat that makes the Big Red unique among other Division I teams. Coming off its only victory this season (over Division III Oberlin), Cornell lost 71-61 at Levien Gym last Saturday. Cornell guard Darryl Smith was named Ivy Rookie of the Week, as he scored 12 points off the bench and helped hold off Columbia defensively. The Big Red has dropped 20 straight games against Division I opponents dating back to last season.

Brown, Dartmouth, and Cornell will all look to rebound against their travel partners this weekend, as the three home teams will look to earn their first Ivy victories of the season. 

sports@columbiaspectator.com | @RYoungNY

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