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Credit: Ilana Wurman

For the first time in four years, there is a tie at the end of the season atop the Ivy League standings, meaning there will be a one-game playoff between the two squads – Harvard and Yale – for the Ancient Eight’s NCAA Tournament bid. With the Ivy schedule, Penn played each squad two times, as the Quakers do every year, so here’s a look at how each squad performed against the Red and Blue.

Jan. 31: Harvard 63, Penn 38: This was the beginning of Penn’s program-record seven-game Ivy losing streak. The Quakers were coming off a solid 58-51 victory over Dartmouth but couldn’t have gotten off to a colder start against the Crimson at the Palestra. In front of a sizable Palestra crowd, Harvard stomped on the Quakers from the start, riding a 36-15 score into halftime. One of the keys to the game was junior guard Siyani Chambers getting out of a shooting slump early on, making jump shots that further extended Penn’s defense. Chambers finished with 14 points to lead all scorers.

The highlight of the game was Chambers’ three right before halftime off an assist by First-Team All-Ivy guard Wesley Saunders. Chambers drained the three with time expiring and then proceeded to celebrate at midcourt with his teammates before going into the locker room. Saunders finished with 11 points and six assists while Harvard forward Agunwa Okolie and Steve Moundou-Missi finished with 10 points each. Matt Howard was Penn’s only double-figure scorer with 11 points while freshman guard Antonio Woods handed out five assists.

Feb. 13: Yale 75, Penn 48: If you want a reason why Yale junior forward Justin Sears won Ivy League Player of the Year, just watch the tape from this game. Sears and the Bulldogs came to the Palestra tied atop the Ancient Eight standings (just like this weekend) and dominated the Quakers from start to finish. Sears took just two shots – making both of them – but his impact was felt on all parts of the game. He added six assists, three in each half, along with five blocks, asserting his dominance on both ends of the court.

The Elis also made 12 three-pointers on the evening, including four each from junior guard Jack Montague and freshman guard Makai Mason. Expect Montague and Mason to play a big role once again from beyond the arc if Yale wants to take down the Crimson on Saturday. Penn, on the other hand, had one lone scorer in double figure – Tony Hicks had 12 points and five rebounds – while freshman Sam Jones drained three shots from three-point range.

Feb. 20: Harvard 69, Penn 46: Just like Penn’s first matchup with Harvard, this one was just as lopsided as the score would indicate. Penn did hang with the Crimson in Cambridge a little more during the Friday night affair, down just 31-24 at halftime, but Harvard pulled away after the break with a large run. The Quakers were shorthanded with Hicks suspended for the weekend so sophomore guard (and soccer star) Matt Poplawski took the start, providing energy for the Red and Blue.

Harvard shot 53.2 percent from the floor while making 14-of-23 shots after halftime. Saunders was the star in this one, scoring 15 points on 7-for-9 shooting while dishing out five assists. Moundou-Missi and Chambers helped pace the Crimson with 14 and 10 points, respectively. While Penn struggled in the second half, Woods still provided a strong performance with 12 points and four assists while Howard added 10 points himself. Two telling stats: Harvard outscored Penn, 23-7, off turnovers and 20-4 on second-chance points.

Feb. 28: Yale 55, Penn 50: This game was the closest Penn came to upsetting either of the two top Ivy squads, as I’m sure you could guess from the final score. After nearing coming back to beat Brown the night before, Penn started four freshmen – Jones, Woods, Darnell Foreman and Dan Dwyer – along with Hicks against the Elis in New Haven. Woods and Hicks led the way for the Red and Blue as Penn led Yale with under three minutes to go. Woods had 14 points and six assists while Hicks added 12 points to the effort.

On the other end, Sears struggled some, scoring nine points and adding eight rebounds while turning the ball over six times. Penn actually outshot Yale, 43.8 percent to 42.2 percent, but the Elis made the difference from three-point range, making seven threes between senior Javier Duren, junior Khaliq Ghani and Montague. With Yale down by four in the final four minutes, Duren drained two free throws sandwiched by two Montague three-pointers to give Yale the lead, one it would never relinquish.

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