New York City - The University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team captured the 2004-05 outright Ivy League title and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with an 80-72 victory over Columbia on Saturday night in Levein Gym. The Quakers were powered by sophomore Ibrahim Jaaber’s career-high 26 points and senior guard Tim Begley, who tallied 24 points and broke Penn’s career three-point record.
Penn's 2004-05 Ivy League title is its third in the last four years and gives the Penn basketball program its 23rd conference championship since the inception of the League. The championship is also Head Coach Fran Dunphy's ninth at Penn and the Quakers will be making their 21st trip to the NCAA Tournament, picking up the nation's first automatic bid this season.
Penn jumped out to a 55-37 lead 10 minutes into the second stanza on the strength of a 18-4 run. During that stretch, Begley broke the all-time three-pointer record with his 245th career triple, while Jan Fikiel added 10 points. The Lions climbed out of the hole pulling to within eight, 80-72, with just under a minute to go, but could not put any added pressure on the Red and Blue.
Columbia game out of the gates on fire, running out to a 5-0 lead. Jaaber cut the lead to three with a basket from long range, the first of his 17 first-half points. Down 9-8, Jaaber picked Ben Nwachukwu's pocket and layed in a basket to give Penn its first lead of the game, 10-8, with 9:13 left. Less than a minute later, Begley hit his 244th career trey to tie Matt Maloney for the most three pointers in program history and gave Penn an 18-12 advantage. Columbia chipped away at the lead and pulled ahead, 22-21 with 5:27 remaining in the half. The two teams went back and forth down the court until the game was all tied up at 33. Columbia’s Jeremiah Boswell missed both shots at the foul line with 1:19 ticks on the clock before Danley put the Quakers up, 35-33 as the Quakers headed into the locker room.
The Quakers shot 50 percent from the floor in the first half and then went 13-for-19 in the second half, good for 68.4 percent shooting. They shot 57.8 from the floor for the game and 35.3 percent from behind the arc in the win. Columbia was led by John Baumann's 17 points. The Lions shot 46.4 percent from the floor in the loss.
The Quakers, who are looking to finish the 2004-05 season with 20 wins for the eighth time in Dunphy's tenure at Penn, return to the hardwood on March 4 when they host Dartmouth in The Palestra at 7 p.m.