Cornell races past Dartmouth for Ivy League title

NEW YORK (AP) -- Cornell made the most of a second chance and earned its first berth to the NCAA tournament.

Moina Snyder and Jeomi Maduka each scored 14 points to help Cornell beat Dartmouth 64-47 on Sunday and win the Ivy League playoff.

"It was a dream come true," Cornell coach Dayna Smith said. "We're happy to represent the Ivy League in the NCAA tournament."

It was only two weeks ago that the prospect of making the NCAAs was bleak. Cornell lost at Harvard falling a game behind the Crimson and looked all but out of the Ivy League title picture. The Big Red swept Princeton and Penn last weekend and sat huddled at midcourt watching the end of the Harvard-Yale game on the internet. When Harvard lost, setting up the three-way tie, Cornell knew it had a second chance.

"We talked about the second chance this week and didn't want to waste the opportunity," Smith said.

Cornell scored the first 11 points of the game and never looked back. Dartmouth didn't get its first basket until Brittney Smith hit a shot nearly 6 minutes in.

"We missed layups, we missed free throws, we missed decent shots. You don't get second chances," Dartmouth coach Chris Wielgus said.

Snyder scored eight of the Big Red's first 13 points and Cornell (20-8) extended its advantage to 26-8 on Shannan Scarselletta's layup with 7:05 left in the half and led 32-19 at the half.

"Today was unbelievable," Snyder said. "We came in very aggressive and that was one of our main focuses. We came out and didn't let them breath and we jumped on them."

The Big Red started the second half with a 12-2 run to put the game away as Dartmouth would get no closer than 16 the rest of the game. Scarselletta scored seven of her 11 points during the spurt.

Dartmouth (15-15) beat Harvard 68-62 on Friday night to advance to the championship game. Cornell won a coin pull to get the bye into the championship game. The Ivy League is the only conference without a postseason tournament, forcing the need for a playoff to determine the automatic berth.

The 20 victories are the most in school history for Cornell, which last season tied the previous mark of 12. Coupled with the men's basketball team winning the league, Cornell became the first Ivy school to send both teams to the NCAA tournament.

It was a busy weekend for Maduka, the Ivy League player of the year. Besides being a standout on the basketball court for Cornell, she also is stellar on the track. Maduka competed in the NCAA track and field championships in Arkansas on Friday night. She placed eighth in the long jump to earn All-America honors. The junior flew back early Saturday morning to join her team for the basketball championship. Had Cornell not won the coin pull, Maduka wouldn't have been able to compete in both events.

"It was a lot of traveling, but I was happy my teammates greeted me with so much energy," Maduka said.

Kristen Craft scored 13 points and Smith scored 12 points for Dartmouth.

"I'm so proud of this young team," Wielgus said. "We missed too many layups and too many shots."

It was the second time in three seasons the Ivy League finished in a three-way tie for first place, setting up the playoff. Harvard, Dartmouth and Cornell finished with 11-3 records after the Crimson lost to Yale on the final night of the regular season. Dartmouth beat Brown and Cornell topped Princeton to force the three-way tie.

In 2006, Brown, Dartmouth and Princeton all shared the regular-season title. Dartmouth beat both teams to win the playoff. The Ivy League has gone to a playoff three other times, with Dartmouth involved in each.

Dartmouth and Cornell split their regular-season meetings, each winning on their home court.