PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The first-ever Ivy League Basketball Tournament begins on Saturday at the Palestra and the first game on the men’s side will feature longtime rivals Penn and Princeton.
Princeton is the top seed after winning the regular season title with a 14-0 Ancient 8 mark. Penn (13-14, 6-8 Ivy) is the four-seed and they had to earn their way into the tourney in dramatic fashion. A Jackson Donahue three with 6.3 seconds left gave the Quakers a 75-72 win over Harvard in their regular season finale on Saturday, allowing them to claim that final tournament berth.
“Just to think where we were a month earlier, 0-6 (in the Ivy League) and not sure where we were headed and the guys just put an incredible four weekends together and saved the best for last,” Penn head coach Steve Donahue tells KYW Newsradio. “Jackson, in front of a great crowd at the Palestra, which will go down as a very historic shot to get us in this playoff, which we’re very grateful for, for sure.”
Listen to the entire interview with Penn head coach Steve Donahue:
To add to the dramatic nature of the win, Donahue’s three-pointer was the only shot he took in that game and the only three he made all weekend.
“He has that confidence about him,” Steve Donahue says. “That’s why he’s at this level.”
The Quakers have won six of eight since that 0-6 start in Ivy play. Donahue talks about what’s changed.
“I just think we guard way better than we did,” he says. “We take care of the ball better than we had been.”
Princeton is riding a 17-game winning streak and brings a 21-6 record into the tournament.
“They have a great ability to control the game with the basketball,” Donahue says. “They’re great with the ball and they make you play at their pace. That’s the first thing, because they get their threes, although we were able to limit them with threes up there. The other thing is they are an incredible defensive team. You don’t get threes off them and they turn you over.”
Princeton has won seven straight against Penn, including both regular season meetings this season. On January 7th at Jadwin Gym, Penn lost to the Tigers , 61-52. Then on February 7th at the Palestra, Princeton grabbed a 64-49 victory.
The winner of this game will play the winner Harvard and Yale for an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.
Saturday’s Penn/Princeton game will tip-off at 1:30pm.