Aiken won a thriller on a difficult fadeaway just inside the arc to defeat the Elis, 88-86. It came a few seconds after Yale’s standout senior guard Alex Copeland hit a three-pointer to tie the game with seven seconds remaining. Aiken finished the game with 28 points on 6-for-11 shooting and a 13-for-15 clip from the free throw stripe, where the game was ultimately decided. Harvard shot 22-for-27 there and Yale only attempted , a fact not lost on Yale coach James Jones. Twenty-three of Harvard’s charity stripe shots came in the pivotal second half.
There are probably three tiers in the parity-filled Ivy League this season. They tend to conflate at times, but there is no questioning that the top tier is comprised of Yale and Harvard. So why not expect them to play the game of the year at John J. Lee Amphitheater before a sold out, whiteout throng?
And the tier one battle played out consistent with its script, although perhaps the last act of the game was a bit of a surprise to Ivy fans and scribes. But should anyone by now be surprised by anything Harvard’s Bryce Aiken accomplishes, injured or fully healthy?
Yale led 24-10 early in the game, fueled by five threes by Miye Oni. Harvard clawed back to cut the halftime deficit to 44-43, led by Aiken’s 13 points and Danilo Djuricic’s nine. Yale led for more than 32 minutes of the game, and 83-77, with 2:08 to go.
Oni was beset by foul trouble through most of the game and posted 21 points in 28 minutes of play. Copeland also added 21 on 8-for-11 shooting.
Tommy Amaker started three frosh, largely as a result of the team’s poor showing the night before at Brown. His gamble paid off, especially with seldom-used rookie Kale Catchings, who finished with 16 points and hit a key three down the stretch.
The game played out much differently from the early February matchup in Cambridge, where the teams scored 114 total points and both shot poorly from the field.
It was Yale’s first home loss of the season and sixth straight regular season loss to the Crimson. The Elis sit at 7-2 in the league and Harvard at 6-3.
“Yale is the best team in the Ivy right now,” Amaker said postgame. That debate will probably be settled on Sun., Mar. 17 at JLA in the Ivy League Tournament final.