Sunday, March 4, 2012

Game Recap: Cornell 63, Harvard 67

  • Video Highlights: ESPN

ITHACA — The Cornell University men's basketball team fell short of a big upset to finish its 2011-12 campaign Saturday evening, bowing to Ivy League champion Harvard, 67-63, in its season finale on Senior Night at Newman Arena.

The Big Red trailed by double digits in both halves before rallying to within two points with less than 30 seconds remaining.

Cornell finished 12-16 overall and 7-7 in the league, an improvement over last year's 10-18, 6-8 finish.

"You obviously always want to win more games, but I think we're right about where we should be right now," Cornell coach Bill Courtney said. "It's going to take a lot of effort from our young guys to improve, but I think we'll see continued progress from them. We're one game better than we were last year and I hope to be at least more than that by next year.

"Unfortunately," he said, "we have some guys leaving that we really depended on and that really meant a lot to this program, to this university and community, and we're sad to see them go, but we're looking forward to growing and continuing to get better."

Seniors Chris Wroblewski, Drew Ferry, Max Groebe and Anthony Gatlin were honored before Saturday's game. Wroblewski, the 2008-09 Ivy League Rookie of the Year won two Ancient Eight titles and made a Sweet 16 during his time on East Hill, will graduate as the program's only two-time Academic All-American and its career leader in assists.

Wroblewski surpassed former teammate Louis Dale (2006-10) on the assists board after a five-assist performance in Friday's 70-57 victory against Dartmouth (5-25, 1-13).

"I'm just humbled by the fact that I get to leave this kind of memory and impact on the Cornell program," said Wroblewski, who earlier in the season became the program's 24th 1,000-point scorer. "It's an accomplishment that this whole team should take part. I can't pass to myself and score. I've had the privilege of playing with some of the best players to ever suit up in a Cornell uniform."

After leading 27-21 at halftime Saturday, Harvard (26-4, 12-2) answered a 9-2 Cornell run with a barrage of 3-pointers to go up 41-34 with 13:53 remaining. Cornell chipped away at the lead before Wroblewski scored four consecutive points to get Cornell within 63-61 with 23.8 seconds left.

The Big Red could never quite get over the hump, however, and from there Crimson senior Oliver McNally hit four free throws in the last 20 seconds to seal the victory.

Wroblewski finished with a game-high 19 points and seven assists, while Ferry, who ends his two-year career at Cornell as one of the program's most proficient 3-point shooters, chipped in six points and four rebounds.

Next season's Big Red squad should be bolstered by the return of 6-foot-6 junior Errick Peck, who averaged 11.0 points and 3.6 rebounds in 2010-11 but missed this season with a knee injury. Freshmen Shonn Miller, Galal Cancer and Dave LaMore will return as are juniors Miles Asafo-Adjei, Johnathan Gray and Eitan Chemerinski, and sophomore Dwight Tarwater.

Havard secured at least a share of the Ivy title with Saturday's win. A Penn loss at Princeton on Tuesday would give the Crimson its first outright Ivy League title in program history and its first automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament since 1946. A Quakers win would force a one-game playoff.

Four Cornell seniors ended their basketball careers this weekend, as Anthony Gatlin, Max Groebe, Drew Ferry and Chris Wroblewski were all honored before the Red hosted Harvard on Saturday. The Red (12-16, 7-7 Ivy League) routed Dartmouth (5-25, 1-13) on Friday, 70-57, but came up short after a furious rally against Harvard (26-4, 2-2), losing, 67-63.

Wroblewski came out to a hot start against Dartmouth, hitting back-to-back threes to give Cornell an early 12-9 lead, but picked up his second foul in Dartmouth’s next possession. Although Cornell was playing without its star point guard, the Red barely skipped a beat as freshman guards Dominic Scelfo and Devin Cherry and junior guard Miles Asafo-Adjei gave a strong performance while filling in. Cornell outscored Dartmouth, 16-9, during Wroblewski’s absence.

“When Dominic, Miles [and Devin] came in, they did a great job of keeping the tempo up,” Ferry said. “Miles is such a fast player, he can make things happen off the dribble and defensively. They did a nice job filling in until Wroblewski could get back in there.”

Dartmouth ended the half on a 6-0 run, giving Cornell a slim lead going into the break, 28-24. When the second half started, the Red did not take its foot off the pedal, expanding its lead to 22 at one point, before Dartmouth closed the game on a 9-0 run to make the final score, 70-57, look much closer than the game actually was. Junior guard Jonathan Gray’s 3-point shooting and the energy off the bench were big factors in the win.

“Jonathan gave us a little momentum with hitting those shots,” Wroblewski said. “But guys like Miles [and Cherry] off the bench [helped]; Devin got a few offensive rebounds and Miles pressured the heck out of all their ball handlers. They change the whole pace of the game; it’s different from me and Drew out there pressuring them, so that helps.”

The Red played strong defense against Dartmouth, forcing the Green into 11 turnovers due to constant full court pressure and holding the opposition to just 6-of-23 shooting in the first half.

“Last time we played them, we came out and jumped on them with our pressure and that’s been a staple of our team this year, getting after teams and speeding them up,” Ferry said. “I think eventually we wore them down a bit, in the second half, with our pressure. That was our goal to come out and play with that kind of intensity.”

Cornell’s attack was led by Gray and Ferry, who had 20 and 16 points, respectively, and both hit 4 3-pointers a piece. Wroblewski finished the game with 12 points and 5 assists, becoming Cornell’s all-time assists leader in the process. He passed Louis Dale ’10 — who held the record with 470 assists — on a Ferry 3-pointer in the first half and ended his career with 482 assists.

Against Harvard, the Red came out shooting ice-cold from the field. With 12:00 to play, freshman forward Dave LaMore scored a nice putback to cut Harvard’s lead to one, 12-11, but the team did not score again for six and a half minutes, when Gray scored on a lay-up off a nice pass from freshman forward Shonn Miller. Harvard built a 12-point lead during this time, but Cornell scored four quick points before the half to cut Harvard’s lead to six heading into halftime, 27-21.

“In the first half, we had opportunities … we had a few shots that went in and out, we missed a couple layups and a dunk,” said head coach Bill Courtney. “We had our opportunities in the first half; we just didn’t put it in the basket. I told the guys at halftime, [if we could put it in the basket], we should be winning the game, and we will start winning the game once we make shots that we normally make.”

When the second half started, the lid was finally removed from Cornell’s basket, as the Red scored on six of its first eight possessions, going on a 13-5 run to give the Red the lead, 34-32. Crimson guard Brandyn Curry quieted the crowd by making three huge 3-pointers in a two minute span to rebuild Harvard’s lead back to seven. Before this game, Curry was shooting just 24 percent of the time from the three.

“I have to give a lot of credit to Brandyn Curry, he stepped up and made humongous plays down the stretch,” Courtney said.

The Red put together one more run at the end, completely manufactured by Wroblewski. With 6:13 to play, Harvard led 55-44, but Wroblewski responded in a big way, hitting two 3-pointers and handing out three assists within three minutes to cut the lead to one, 56-55, with 3:54 remaining. However, Crimson guard Oliver McNally hit a clutch three and Wroblewski missed two free throws at the end to give Harvard the win, 67-63.

When asked about Wroblewski’s performance, Courtney was almost out of superlatives to describe him.

“You can’t ask more from a guy than what you got from him,” Courtney lauded. “He gave 110 percent, if that’s possible, but he gave 100 percent of what he had every single night and this last game he showed it. He almost willed us to a win tonight, just by wanting it more than anybody else on the floor.”

Despite the tough loss to end his Cornell career, Wroblewski made a huge impact on the Cornell basketball program and is the last remaining link to the Sweet Sixteen run of 2010.

“It’s hard for me to fathom the kind of experiences and memories that I’m going to walk away from this program with,” Wroblewski said. “Four years ago, when I committed to Cornell, none of this was in the back of my mind … and to experience some of the things I have, it’s just surreal and I feel like I’m living a dream.”

Box Score

Box Score (PDF)

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Senior Chris Wroblewski and his classmates did everything in their power to send the Ivy League race into chaos. In the end, Harvard hit four free throws down the stretch and held on for a 67-63 victory over Cornell on Saturday evening at Newman Arena. Cornell closed its season at 12-16 (7-7 Ivy).

Wroblewski scored 19 points, dished seven assists and grabbed four rebounds, but was the lone double figure scorer for Cornell on the evening. Harvard used constant ball movement and balanced scoring to hold on for the win, overcoming a late surge by the Big Red to make things interesting.

After falling behind by 11 with six minutes to play, the Big Red got within one at 56-55 on a 3-pointer by Gray on a find in the corner by Wroblewski, who had hit consecutive 3-pointers to start the run. After a defensive stop by Cornell, Wroblewski got down the floor quickly but missed a running jumper with some contact, but the foul wasn't called and Harvard rebounded. Harvard came down the floor and got a layup for Kyle Casey, and after another Cornell miss, Oliver McNally drained a big trey to push the advantage right back to six.

The Big Red wasn't done, getting within two on a driving layup by Wroblewski, but Harvard salted the game away at the free-throw line with four straight by the senior McNally.'

The Crimson claimed a share of the Ivy League title with the victory and can clinch the conference's automatic bid if Penn loses at Princeton on Tuesday night. If the Quakers win, that would force a one-game playoff between Harvard and Penn on a date and time to be determined.

McNally led the way for the Crimson with 17 points, while Brandyn Curry had 12 points and Kyle Casey notched 11 points. Keith Wright had eight points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Harvard shot 49 percent from the floor and made 12-of-26 (46 percent) from 3-point range.

Eitan Chemerinski scored nine points, grabbed three rebounds, had three steals and two blocks for the Big Red, while Galal Cancer, Dave LaMore and Johnathan Gray each had eight points. Cornell turned the ball over just nine times and disrupted Harvard with its pressure defense throughout. In all, Harvard turned the ball over 14 times with eight coming on Cornell steals.

But the 67-63 victory against the Big Red (12-16, 7-7 Ivy) didn’t come easy for the Crimson (26-4, 12-2).

“We’ve been a tough basketball team this weekend,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. “Our toughness and our togetherness certainly allows us the opportunity to win on the road in this league.”

Cornell struggled from the field in the first half, scoring just 21 points on 32.1 percent shooting and a 14.3 percent mark from long range. But the Big Red came out of the locker room on a hot streak, outscoring the Crimson, 11-5, in the first five minutes of the second half, including a 6-0 initial run to close the six-point gap Harvard held at halftime after less than two minutes had elapsed.

The Big Red capitalized on Harvard’s mistakes, earning 15 points off of turnovers and 10 fast break points to Harvard’s 12 and 0 points, respectively.

But Harvard’s hot shooting proved to be too much for the Big Red. The Crimson went 21-of-43 from the field and 12-for-26 from three, netting an especially impressive 91.7 percent of second-half free throws after a dismal 2-for-5 effort from the line in the first.


Despite going 0-for-3 from the field in the first half, junior point guard Brandyn Curry made four straight three-point attempts in the second frame—all within a span of four minutes—to keep Harvard in the game during a crucial Cornell hot streak.

“I was just taking my open shots,” Curry said. “Coach preaches that all the time…and I just stepped up and took them. Fortunately, they gave me four open ones.”

Curry—who finished the night 4-of-5 from deep—single-handedly spurred the Crimson offense at the beginning of the second half, with junior forward Kyle Casey and rookie Steve Moundou-Missi contributing Harvard’s only other points on two free throws apiece in the first 9:56 of the second half. It wasn’t until nearly 10 minutes had expired on the second half that Keith Wright netted Harvard’s first non-Curry points from the field.

Co-captain Oliver McNally followed took over later in the game, leading the team with 13 second-half points including two late three-pointers.

“Curry has the heart of the champion,” Amaker said. “He’s made big shots for us. And Oliver, what he was able to do with big free throws, big shots [is also key].”

McNally—who netted a team-high 17 points on the night—once again found himself with the ball in his hands as his opponent resorted to a last-ditch fouling effort. And McNally was able to capitalize, draining all four of his free throw attempts in the final 20 seconds, closing out a perfect, 6-for-6 night at the line.

Harvard relied heavily on its three-point prowess Saturday night, attempting 26 shots and earning a total of 36 points from deep. And the backcourt duo of Curry and McNally combined for 21 of those long-range points, as the Crimson shot an impressive 53.8 percent from three in the second half.


In the opening frame of a game played on Cornell’s senior night, it was freshman Dave LeMore who led the Big Red, scoring six points off the bench in the first half on the way to a perfect, 4-for-4 night from the field.

Harvard was able to hold Cornell’s two leading scorers—senior guards Drew Ferry and Chris Wroblewski—to just seven points total in the first half. Ferry—who currently sits 10th on the Ivy League scoring list with 11.5 ppg—shot just 1-for-4 in the half, while the Crimson held Wroblewski to an ice-cold, 1-for-7 shooting effort.

But Roblewski caught fire in the second half, shooting 5-for-9 from the field and 2-for-3 from three, as the senior finished his final game in a Cornell uniform with 19 points and seven assists, good for a game high in both categories, while also contributing two steals for Cornell.

“What a career [Wroblewski] has had,” Amaker said. “And I told him that. He’s an outstanding player. He has some of the things we just talk about with our kids, toughness and heart. He put his team on his back and tried to will them to victory.”

By Ed Boulat

— Right around this time last year, Princeton was dashing the Harvard men’s basketball team’s NCAA tournament dreams, beating its fellow co-Ivy League champion in a one-game playoff on a last-second shot to earn automatic entry into the Big Dance.

After securing at least a share of its second consecutive Ancient Eight title last night by downing Cornell, 67-63, in the regular-season finale at Newman Arena, the Crimson now will be rooting for Princeton, which by beating Penn on Tuesday can assure Harvard of the first outright Ivy title in program history — and its first automatic birth to the national tournament since 1946. A Quakers win, on the other hand, would force a one-game playoff between Penn and Harvard for the NCAA berth.

But regardless of what Tuesday brings, Harvard (26-4, 12-2 Ivy) is again a championship team.

“It is funny,” junior Brandyn Curry said of rooting for Princeton. “But we’ll definitely celebrate now, because we’re just happy that we won a share of the Ivy League. That’s the main goal at the beginning of the season. We’ll go back to work (tomorrow) and be ready for whatever our next game is.”

Cornell (12-16, 7-7) gave Harvard all it could handle on Senior Night. The Crimson led by as many as 12 in the first half and 10 in the second, but they needed some clutch shooting late from senior captain Oliver McNally to secure the win. McNally hit a big 3-pointer with just over two minutes left for some breathing room, then hit 4-of-4 from the free throw line in the final 20 seconds to seal the win.

“It’s pretty gratifying,” McNally said of being part of another Ivy League championship team. “We put a lot of work into it before the season and last summer after a disappointing end to our year, so getting back here is great. I think we’ve been going around the Ivy getting everyone’s best shot, so to go on the road and have two really difficult games against Columbia and Cornell this weekend and come out on top is a great feeling.”

After cutting the lead to 27-21 at the break, Cornell opened the second half with a 9-2 run to take its first lead of the game at 30-29, before Curry hit his fourth 3-pointer in a span of four minutes to put the Crimson back up 41-34 with 13:53 remaining.

Harvard was up 50-39 with just under eight minutes to play on another 3-pointer by junior Christian Webster that just beat the shot clock, before seeing its lead shrink to just one with 4:10 remaining after a 11-1 Cornell run.

A basket by junior Kyle Casey followed by McNally’s key 3-pointer with 2:15 remaining gave the Crimson some breathing room at 61-55, but Cornell was back within two at 63-61 with 23.8 on the clock after four straight points from Chris Wroblewski. McNally then stepped up at the line.

McNally finished with 17 points.

“I’m thrilled for our guys and in particular our seniors,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. “We talked before the game about if there was a way that we could play with that kind of heart and courage and toughness. To have these guys have, no matter what, two Ivy League championships under their belt, it would be an amazing moment for our school and program.

“We’re thrilled with it, we hope we can claim it outright, but at least right now we know that we at least share it and I’m happy for our kids.”

ITHACA, N.Y. - When Harvard began its season on Veterans Day with a 76-49 walkover against crosstown neighbor MIT, the mission for coach Tommy Amaker’s team was as clear as it is now.

Win the Ivy League, which the Crimson had done last season - sharing the title with Princeton, though that season ended with a one-game playoff loss to the Tigers and another year of no NCAA bid, a drought that dates to 1946.

Not sharing the title was high on the Crimson’s wish list this season. Last night at Newman Arena, Harvard again secured at least a tie for the Ivy title, holding off Cornell, 67-63.

“Tough has been a characteristic of this team,’’ said Amaker. “I thought we did it [Friday] night [in a 77-70 overtime win at Columbia] and I thought we did it, and then some, tonight. I couldn’t be prouder of these guys.’’

Harvard (26-4, 12-2) could have had the title to itself if Yale had upset Penn last night at The Palestra. But the Bulldogs, whom Harvard beat twice this season, didn’t provide any help, dropping a 68-47 decision to the Quakers.

Now Harvard must wait to see what happens when Penn (19-11, 11-2) ends its regular season at Princeton Tuesday night. A Princeton win would give Harvard its elusive NCAA Tournament berth, while a Penn victory would force a one-game playoff with the Crimson.

“Our goal is accomplished to win the Ivy League championship,’’ said Harvard forward Keith Wright, who scored 8 points, pulled down 11 rebounds, and was part of a group that fought off surge after surge in the closing seconds.

Harvard’s credentials would appear to be strong enough to merit even an at-large NCAA berth. The latest RPI rankings have Harvard at No. 38. The one true blemish for the Crimson is an inexplicable Jan. 3 loss at Fordham, the last-place team in the Atlantic 10.

When asked about his team’s at-large possibilities, Amaker said, “I never get wrapped up in predictions. All I will say is that we have won a lot of games and we will take whatever comes our way and be extremely happy about it.’’

The Crimson changed their strategy at the start of last night’s game by going back to the long-range shooting attack that had keyed a 7-0 start in Ivy League play.

Harvard hit five 3-pointers in the first 12 minutes, building a 12-point lead. Cornell (12-16, 7-7) cut the deficit in half (27-21) by halftime.

But as has been the case on a regular basis, the Crimson had to show poise in holding off a strong surge by their opponents. Cornell quickly wiped out Harvard’s lead early in the second half, and turned the game into a possession-by-possession affair.

As he did in the second half Friday night against Columbia, junior point guard Brandyn Curry provided leadership for the Crimson by hitting three 3-pointers, turning a 2-point Cornell lead into a 7-point Harvard edge midway through the half.

“This is exactly what we wanted, to contend for the title,’’ said Curry. “We got a share of it. We’ll see what happens next.’’

The Crimson built the lead back to double digits, but three 3-pointers by Cornell cut the Harvard lead to 1 as the game hit the four-minute mark. Could this be a repeat of the meltdown against Penn Feb. 25, or the near-collapse against Columbia?

But as they did Friday night, Harvard’s veterans took over. Kyle Casey hit a basket and then Oliver McNally (17 points) added a 3-pointer and lead was back to 6.

“This is what we came here to do,’’ said Casey, one of three Harvard players in double figures (11 points).

Cornell, led by Chris Wroblewski, wouldn’t let up. The senior guard put in a floater that cut the Harvard lead to 3 with 25 seconds left. Wroblewski got the ball back and was fouled with 22.8 seconds left. He made 1 of 2, which cut the Crimson lead to 63-61.

Once again, the Crimson had to find a way to hold on. McNally was fouled with 20.7 seconds left and made both free throws, but Wroblewski matched it with a basket, which again made it a 2-point game. But then McNally made two more free throws and the Crimson had survived. Again.

McNally said the Crimson have not yet met all of their goals. “We have some of it,’’ said the cocaptain. “Now we have to get the rest of it.’’

ITHACA, N.Y.—There may be no better indicator of just how far the Harvard men’s basketball program has come than the Crimson’s reaction following Saturday night’s 67-63 win over Cornell Saturday night at Newman Arena.

Despite clinching at least a share of the program’s second consecutive Ivy League championship, Harvard’s celebration was relatively subdued following its win over the Big Red.

Crimson coach Tommy Amaker briefly lifted his arm into the air, and co-captain Keith Wright gave junior Kyle Casey a hug, but Harvard disappeared into the locker room shortly after shaking hands with Cornell.

With Penn’s 68-47 victory over Yale Saturday night, the Quakers (19-11, 11-2 Ivy) and Crimson (26-4, 12-2) remain even in the loss column with one game remaining in the Ancient Eight schedule.

If Penn defeats Princeton on the road Tuesday night in the Ivy League’s regular season finale, Harvard will square off against the Quakers this weekend in a one-game playoff to determine the recipient of the Ivy League’s automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.

“If we have to play some more, we’ll play,” said Harvard coach Tommy Amaker, whose squad nearly squandered an 11-point second-half lead on Saturday.

Spurred by senior guard Chris Wroblewski’s 15 second-half points, the Big Red cut the Crimson’s lead to one with 3:54 to play but was unable to get any closer.

Co-captain Oliver McNally scored nine points in the final 2:21 of play, leading the Crimson on an 11-8 run to seal the title-clinching win.

McNally and fellow guard Brandyn Curry, who combined for 26 second-half points, came up big for Harvard throughout the final frame.

After going scoreless in the first half, Curry scored 12 straight points for the Crimson off four three-pointers during a stretch of 3:27, turning a one-point deficit into a seven-point Harvard lead.

“I was just taking my open shots,” said Curry, who entered Saturday’s contest shooting 26.2 percent from deep. “[Coach] always yells at us to be ready to take our open shots. I just stepped up and took ’em. Fortunately, they gave me four open ones, and they went in finally.”

Curry’s first triple came just moments after the Big Red grabbed its first lead of the game off a Jonathan Gray three-pointer with 17:31 to play.

Curry answered 11 seconds later, sticking a shot off a McNally pass.

The Big Red regained the advantage off a pair of Etan Chemerinski free throws with 15:52 to go, but once again, Curry had the answer, drilling a trey from the top of the key to put Harvard up by one, 35-34.

“I thought Brandyn Curry showed so much courage,” Amaker said. “He’s got a heart of a champion. He’s made big plays and big shots for us throughout his career.”

Curry added two more threes to put Harvard up by seven, 41-34, with 14:04 to go. The Crimson never trailed the rest of the way.

“[Opponents] don’t think that Brandyn is going to be aggressive to score,” Wright said. “I told him that a couple weeks ago, ‘You got to be aggressive.’ And he was tonight, using the ball screen well.”

McNally extended Harvard’s lead to 11, 55-44, with 6:13 to go off a jumper, but Cornell refused to give up.

After struggling to find the bottom of the net throughout the game, the Big Red caught fire with 6:02 to go, going five for five from the field over 2:19 of play to pull within one, 56-55.

Junior Kyle Casey put an end to the 11-1 Cornell run, elevating over his defender and banking in a shot off the backboard to put the Crimson up by one.

After a Galal Cancer miss, Harvard swung the ball to an open McNally on the perimeter. The guard stuck his third triple on the night, making it a six-point game with 2:21 to go.

Wroblewski, who scored 12 of Cornell’s final 17 points, brought Cornell within two, 63-61, after nailing a free throw with 26 ticks on the clock.

Harvard proceeded to inbound the ball to McNally, who was intentionally fouled and sent to the line where he knocked down both attempts.

Wroblewski responded by taking it coast to coast for two with 14 seconds to play, but the Crimson once again successfully inbounded the ball to McNally. The senior was again sent to the line where he knocked down both free throws.

Cornell’s Drew Ferry air-balled a three-pointer on the Big Red’s final possession, and the Crimson escaped with the four-point win.

“I’m very proud of this group,” Amaker said. “It’s the second [Ivy title] in a row, which says a heck of a lot about the job these kids have done.”

Harvard led by as many as 12 in the opening frame, capitalizing on the Big Red’s 32.1 percent shooting in the first period. But the Crimson, which turned the ball over seven times in the opening frame, went into the break leading by six, 27-21.

Cornell shot better in the second half, going 13-of-27, but finished the game shooting 40 percent from the field. Harvard was 48.8 percent from the field on the night and finished with 14 turnovers.

Amaker and his players will now have to wait until Tuesday’s Penn-Princeton matchup to learn whether their next matchup takes place in the first round of the NCAA tournament or an Ivy League playoff.

If Penn comes up with the win, the Crimson will square off against the Quakers this weekend at a neutral site.

ITHACA, N.Y. – Oliver McNally made four free throws in the final seconds and scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half, while Brandyn Curry drained four 3-pointers, finishing with 12 points, as the Harvard men's basketball team clinched at least a share of its second straight Ivy League title with a 67-63 win at Cornell Saturday evening.

Harvard, which concludes its regular season 26-4 and 12-2 in the Ancient Eight, will await Tuesday evening's matchup between Penn (11-2 Ivy) and Princeton in Princeton, N.J. A Princeton win could clinch the outright Ivy League title for Harvard, as well as the NCAA tournament's automatic berth, while a Penn victory would force a one-game playoff between the Quakers and Crimson at a to-be-determined date and location.

Kyle Casey scored 11 (4-7 FG), while Keith Wright had eight points (3-6 FG) and 11 rebounds. The Crimson shot .488 (21-43 FG) for the game, hitting 12-of-26 3-point attempts (.462) including 7-of-13 in the second half. Harvard's 26 victories establish a new program record for a single season, and the Crimson ties last season's squad with 12 conference victories. Harvard has now won two Ivy League crowns in program history (2010-11 and 2011-12).

Chris Wroblewski shook off a 6-for-16 shooting night to lead Cornell (12-16, 7-7 Ivy) with 19 points to go with seven assists.

Harvard's hot-shooting second half was matched in every way by the home-standing Big Red, which connected on 6-of-11 from deep to keep the game close.

In the second half, Cornell opened with a 6-0 run to tie the game, 27-27, with 18:12 to play. After two free throws by Casey put Harvard back up by two, Cornell responded with a triple on the other end of the court as the Big Red moved ahead, 30-29. With Cornell leading, 34-32, Curry dribbled at the top of the key and drained a triple, putting the Crimson on top by one. With 14:57 left, Curry stepped up and buried another trey, giving the Crimson a four-point edge, 38-34.

Curry continued his torrid stretch from beyond the arc, as he hit another 3-pointer with 14:04 remaining, giving the Crimson a seven-point advantage, 41-34. With 10:04 to go, Wright put Harvard up by eight, 45-37, with a wide open layup to the left of the basket. Webster buried a triple before the shot clock expired with 7:55 to play, as the Crimson started to pull away, 50-39.

Cornell came back to cut the deficit to six, 55-49, with 5:07 remaining, and then pulled even closer, 55-52, with just over four minutes to go. With 3:53 left, the Big Red got with one, 56-55, but Casey answered with a driving layup, giving Harvard a three-point lead, 58-55. On the Crimson's next trip down the floor, Saunders found McNally with a pass to the left wing for a triple, 61-55.

With 45 ticks left on the clock, McNally banked a scoop shot off the glass from the right side, keeping Harvard up six, 63-57. After Cornell got back with three, 63-60, with 26.4 seconds left, the Big Red forced a Crimson turnover to regain possession. With 23.8 seconds left, Cornell's Wroblewski went to the line and made one, making it a two-point game, 63-61. McNally went to the foul line with 20.7 ticks left, and drained both, making it a two-possession game, 65-61. Cornell got back within two with 14.0 seconds left, McNally went back to the line and hit both again, putting the game out of reach, 67-63.

Laurent Rivard was on early as the sophomore put Harvard ahead, 3-0, with a triple from the left corner to open the game, and Casey added another triple, as the Crimson led, 6-3, after the first three minutes. After Cornell cut its deficit to 8-7, Wright made a nice move under the hoop, to give Harvard a three-point edge, 10-9. With 12:38 left, McNally threw up an alley-oop pass from the right side, and Casey finished with a thunderous two-handed dunk, 12-9.

Following an offensive board by Wesley Saunders, McNally drained a trey, stretching Harvard's lead to 17-11 with 9:18 left to go in the first. The Crimson went up by nine, 20-11, when Rivard buried another 3-pointer, and Christian Webster followed with a triple of his own with six minutes remaining, pushing the lead to 12, 23-11.

With 2:26 to go, Wright went to the line, making the front end, as the Crimson remained on top, 27-17. Harvard carried a 27-21 advantage into the break, as the Crimson shot 10-of-23 (.435), while holding Cornell to 9-of-28 shooting (.321). Casey and Rivard paced the Crimson with seven points apiece in the first 20 minutes.


Anonymous said...

Let's go Penn! Would love to see a one game playoff. I think Harvard is the better team, although penn is playing better right now and has the league's best player. A playoff would be a great way to end the season.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first poster. Harvard is the better team and would comfortably win, say, a seven-game series. But in a one-game playoff, anything can happen.

Penn is on a mission and Rosen is a man possessed right now. I've seen enough of Amaker's late-game coaching to think that, if a playoff comes down to the last play, he could cost Harvard the game himself.

CBB is right in that, if Penn wins on Tuesday night, we're probably headed back to John J. Lee on Saturday afternoon. The scalpers will be happy.