Harvard all-time moment No. 3: Harvard beats Yale in 2015 Ivy playoff

We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Harvard is next because Jonah Travis is a master Tweeter.

With 28 seconds remaining in March 7’s Yale-Dartmouth game, Harvard had a 0.41 percent chance to advance to the NCAA Tournament (according to KenPom). The Crimson needed Dartmouth to pull out a miracle victory to force a one-game playoff between Harvard and Yale, and even then the Crimson would need to win that game to earn an NCAA bid. By the time those 28 seconds elapsed, Dartmouth had taken care of the “miracle victory” part of the equation, setting the stage for an epic Ivy League battle at the Palestra between two archrivals who had split the season series.

The game started well for Harvard, as they jumped out to an 8-2 lead. The Crimson soon cooled off, however, shooting just 35 percent from that point until halftime. Yale got going behind Greg Kelley’s eight points, and the Bulldogs led 27-23 at the half.

The Crimson buckled down on defense in the second half, and with 13 minutes remaining, they took a 33-32 lead on Wesley Saunders’ triple. They built the lead to nine but then watched it disappear; with 1:47 remaining, a Makai Mason jumper in the lane gave Yale a one-point lead. For each team, one minute and 47 seconds stood between them and either the NCAA Tournament or a depressing bus ride home. With the game on the line, Wesley Saunders took over, dropping in an “and-one” to give Harvard a two-point lead. An atrocious foul call on Jonah Travis with the shot clock winding down gave Yale’s Javier Duren a chance to tie the game at the foul line, which he calmly did. Then, with under a minute to play, a crazy scene unfolded.

As the shot clock wound down, Harvard’s Steve Moundou-Missi pulled up from the baseline for the lead. He missed, but Yale tipped it out of bounds to give the ball back to Harvard with 33 seconds to play. Siyani Chambers dribbled around the outside as time ticked away. He handed it off to Saunders, who drove inside with ten seconds on the clock. As defenders were drawn to Saunders, Moundou-Missi popped out above the free throw line and Saunders passed the ball to his open teammate. This time, Moundou-Missi did not miss, and his swish sealed Harvard’s victory. Javier Duren and Justin Sears each gave it one more shot in the final 10 seconds, but to no avail, and the Crimson earned their fourth straight NCAA Tournament bid.

 

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