Penn takes out Yale, will face Harvard for NCAA bid

Penn forward AJ Brodeur (25) drives past Yale forward Paul Atkinson (20) during their Ivy League tournament semifinal game at the Palestra on Saturday. Penn won, 80-57.

As Penn grabbed hold of the first half against Yale at the Palestra on Saturday, never letting go, Quakers forward AJ Brodeur looked omnipresent, finding space inside, hitting the only three-pointer he tried, getting to practically every other rebound, and making all his free throws.

Brodeur’s halftime line: 15 minutes, 17 points, 8 rebounds.

Halftime score: Penn 44, Yale 25.

By the end, the scoreboard read: 80-57. Penn moved into Sunday’s Ivy League final against Harvard, which had already taken out Cornell. Sunday at noon, Harvard and Penn, co-champions of the Ivy regular season, will decide who gets the league’s NCAA tournament bid.

Pivoting his way to daylight, Brodeur finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds, both game highs. The Quakers (23-8) made 22 of 33 shots from inside the three-point arc, led by Brodeur’s 9 of 12 two-point shots. Penn’s starters made 19 of 24 two-pointers.

Camera icon TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Penn forward AJ Brodeur (25) drives toward the basket during the team’s 80-57 Ivy League tournament semifinal win over Yale at the Palestra on Saturday.

“That’s how he plays every time he’s in the gym,’’ Penn coach Steve Donahue said of Brodeur’s effort. “If you look around college basketball, post players play 25 minutes a game. They’re going rim to rim, banging bodies. This kid, I can play him 40, and there’s not a slack off.”

Just as it would have been if there hadn’t been a postseason tournament, the Quakers will face Harvard, a 74-55 winner over Cornell. The Crimson fell behind in the first half but took over by halftime and was in full control after the break.

Seth Towns, this season’s Ivy League player of the year, led Harvard with 24 points in 29 minutes. Chris Lewis, working inside, had 16 points. The pair also dominated the boards, Towns grabbing 12 rebounds and Lewis adding 10 in 30 minutes. Harvard (18-12) also made 11 of 25 three-pointers while committing just eight turnovers.

Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said having Towns in the lineup is a “tremendous comfort.”

“He is versatile,” Amaker said. “I think that is the key. We have a saying, ‘When you are versatile, you are probably pretty valuable, and he is incredibly valuable. … We can move him around, he gives us inside protection, he is a terrific three-pointer, he is a dynamite foul shooter.”

In the first women’s semifinal, Ivy regular-season champion Princeton took out Yale, 78-57, with 17 points from Bella Alarie and Carlie Littlefield. The Tigers controlled the boards, getting 46 rebounds to 20 for Yale, getting more offensive rebounds than Yale managed on the defensive side. Princeton also made 10 of 21 three-pointers, more than enough to overcome 19 turnovers.

A good rebounding Princeton team or a great one?

“Depends on which Bella comes,” Princeton coach Courtney Banghart said, noting the 17 rebounds by Alarie, which almost reached Yale’s total of 20. “The difference is our guards are big. They understand the value of rebounding.”

In the second semifinal Penn’s women got past Harvard, 57-52, helped by two late three-pointers by Anna Ross. The second-seeded Quakers play Princeton Sunday at 3 p.m. in the final.