The Crimson battled the Big Red into double overtime in Newman Arena on Friday night and emerged with a 77-75 win, while Harvard overcame a 12-pont deficit on Saturday to beat Columbia 61-49 in Levien Gym.
With home contests against Yale and Brown next weekend and a game at Dartmouth left on the regular season schedule, the Crimson (19-5, 10-1 Ivy) is on a clear road to the NCAA tournament as it has clinched a share of the crown. Cornell was the legitimate threat for the title, but now lies on the brink of elimination in the Ivy race after its loss to Harvard and a 78-71 setback to Dartmouth on Saturday night.
The only way for Cornell to share the title would be for the Crimson to lose its three final games and the Big Red to sweep Princeton and Penn next weekend.
Freshman center Reka Cserny led the Crimson sweep, posting the game-high in both games, with 28 against Cornell and 22 against Columbia.
Harvard had to adjust for the absence of sophomore star Hana Peljto, who played for 32 minutes on Friday night but sat out Saturday’s game after a fainting spell on Friday.
“She had been sick all week,” sophomore forward Tricia Tubridy said. “She looked fine on the court, but once the game ended, there was this big relief and she just fainted for a few seconds. Jenn Monti also kind-of fainted for a second.”
Peljto visited the hospital where she received fluids through an IV.
Senior guard Jenn Monti also battled illness, but still scored a career-high 21 points in the win over Columbia.
Harvard 61, Columbia 49
Harvard’s first period woes continued on Saturday, as Columbia (11-13, 5-7) took a 12-point lead at the beginning of the game. The Crimson battled back to a 29-28 advantage at halftime, thanks in no small part to 11 points from Monti including the go-ahead three that closed the half.
“We made a point to ourselves to not underestimate Columbia,” Tubridy said. “Friday night was so physically and emotionally draining for the team.”
After the dramatic marathon at Cornell, Harvard wasn’t quite ready for the 5 p.m. game, a change from the usual 7 p.m. start time.
“Basically, it just took us 15 minutes to get our bodies together,” Tubridy said. “It all stopped when we switched our defense. We were playing man-to-man and we switched to a three-two.”
Playing without Peljto didn’t help matters either, though the Crimson stepped up in a big way to make up the extra points—a propensity the Crimson has demonstrated throughout the season.
Cserny and Monti lit up the scoreboard, amassing 22 and 21 points respectively. Monti contributed six assists at the point and Cserny put up nine boards. Tubridy seized 11 rebounds while junior Kate Ides grabbed seven and blocked three shots.