One of the most critical yet under-the-radar games of the weekend was played in Princeton, N.J., on Friday night. Jadwin Gymnasium has been a hellhole for Harvard for more than two decades. The Crimson entered the game with 23 consecutive losses on the road against the Tigers.
Make it 24.
Princeton held on to win 58-53, creating a tie atop the Ivy standings in the loss column. Ian Hummer, the best player in the Ivy, had 23 to lead the Tigers in addition to 14 grabs. The Crimson got 15 off the bench from Steve Mondou-Missi, who could one day be the best in the Ivy. It was a thrilling game, typical Ivy quality. Physical, passionate, no safe leads.
Harvard is now 9-2 with three games left on its schedule, while 8-2 Princeton has four games to go, the final three of which will be on the road.
Princeton's win over Harvard evens the season series and sets up the dream scenario: the one-game Ivy playoff. It hardly ever happens, but we got this two years ago -- with these two teams -- and it was one of the greatest games in conference history. Princeton won at the buzzer over Tommy Amaker's team. Could we get something that awesome again? I hope, but we needed this outcome tonight to help us get there.
It might be asking too much. Winning three in a row to close out the Ivy, away from home, will be tough for a Princeton team that's not too great. Harvard is the better club, and if it beats Penn on Saturday night, it closes out its campaign at home against Columbia and Cornell.
But at least the uncertainty for the only league without a postseason tournament will carry a bit into March. The Ivy doesn't get much pub or TV time, but when it's close at the top, it's as entertaining and dramatic as just about any league in the country.
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