Crimson Clinches NCAA Berth
New Haven, Conn. — Siyani Chambers scored 17 points and Harvard became the first team to clinch a berth in this year’s NCAA tournament with a 70-58 win over arch-rival Yale on Friday night to capture the Ivy League title.
Steve Moundou-Missi added 16 points and Brandyn Curry chipped in with 14 for Harvard (25-4, 12-1), which won its seventh straight.
Justin Sears had 28 points and 13 rebounds for the Bulldogs (15-12, 9-4).
Harvard, which had already secured at least a share of the Ivy title for the fourth straight year, will make its third straight trip to the NCAA tournament, after a drought that dated back to 1946.
The Crimson never trailed. They opened the game on a 16-2 run and led by as many as 17 in the second half.
Yale cut that to 59-51 on Brandon Sharrod’s free throw with 3½ minutes left after drawing Moundou-Missi’s fifth foul.
But Chambers answered with a 3-pointer on the other end. Another 3 by Laurent Rivard pushed the lead back to 12 at 65-53 and Yale was forced to foul.
Harvard shot 57 percent from the floor, while holding Yale to 36 percent. The Bulldogs missed all 14 of their attempts from 3-point range.
Harvard scored the game’s first nine points and held Yale without a field goal for better than four minutes. A layup from Sears broke the drought, but only interrupted the early Harvard run.
Sears, who had 21 points and 11 rebounds in Yale’s upset of Harvard last month, kept the Bulldogs within striking distance, scoring 13 first-half points. His dunk on a wrap-around feed from Brandon Sherrod cut the deficit to 27-19.
But back-to-back 3s from Brandyn Curry gave the Crimson a 36-23 lead at the half.
The Crimson stretched the lead to 48-31 early in the second half on a dunk by Wesley Saunders, who finished with nine points.
The Crimson’s 12 conference wins tie the program record it set in 2011 and 2012. Harvard had outscored Ivy League opponents by more than 16 points a game. Their only conference loss came to Yale, 74-67, in Boston on Feb. 8.
They are hoping to at least match last year’s NCAA tournament performance, where they upset third-seeded New Mexico in the first round.
Yale came into the game still clinging to its own title hopes. The Bulldogs would have had to sweep Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend, and also needed Harvard to lose tonight at Brown. Even that would only have forced a one-game playoff.
Columbia 74, Penn 55
New York — Alex Rosenberg scored 22 points as Columbia (19-11, 8-5 Ivy) routed Penn (7-19, 4-8).
Rosenberg, the Ivy League’s fifth- leading scorer, made three 3-pointers and was 9 of 10 from the line.
Columbia shot 45 percent, including 12 of 25 beyond the arc. Cory Osetkowski had 14 points and nine rebounds. Maodo Lo and Steve Frankoski each added 12.
Princeton 91, Cornell 51
Ithaca, n.y. — Will Barrett and T.J. Bray each scored 21 points to lead Princeton (18-8, 6-6 Ivy) in a rout of Cornell (2-25, 1-12) for the Tigers’ third straight win.
Clay Wilson came off the bench to add 16 points for the Tigers, who shot 64.2 percent from the floor and 14 of 23 (60.9 percent) from behind the 3-point arc. Spencer Weisz added a team-high 12 rebounds.
No. 2 Wichita State 80 Evansville 58
St. Louis — Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker scored 17 points apiece and No. 2 Wichita State set a Missouri Valley tournament record with 11 blocked shots, staying perfect for the season with a romp over Evansville in the quarterfinals.
D.J. Balentine had 31 points with seven 3-pointers for ninth-seeded Evansville (14-19), which lost twice by an average of 15 points to Wichita State (32-0) in the regular season.