Harvard dominates at home against Cornell

In their return to Lavietes Pavilion after a harrowing five-game road trip, the Crimson turned in a thoroughly dominant performance against an overmatched Cornell squad. When the dust settled at halftime, Harvard was leading 42-15 and had long since dispelled any suspense about the game’s final outcome. The easy win came at a perfect time for Harvard after a four-game stretch in which each contest was decided by three points or fewer.

Harvard’s frontcourt pressed its athletic advantage throughout the game, with Chris Lewis, Chris Ledlum, and Danilo Djuricic combining for 41 points while shooting an astounding 75% from the floor. Harvard also outrebounded their opponents 40-30, creating a number of easy second-chance points. Freshman Idan Tretout took advantage of increased playing time in the second half to contribute nine points and was one of seven Harvard players to score at least seven.

Chris Lewis slams one home during Harvard’s win over Cornell Friday at Lavietes Pavilion. Lewis was the KenPom game MVP, shooting a perfect 5-for-5 from the field and 3-for-3 from the foul line for 13 points in 24 minutes of play. | Photo by Erica Denhoff

For the Big Red, Jimmy Boeheim led all scorers with 17 and Noah Gear was a breath of fresh air coming off the bench to contribute 13. The Big Red’s shooting struggles (4-for-26 in the first half) and inability to keep Harvard out of the paint sealed their fate.

Harvard’s defenders converge on Cornell’s Riley Voss during the Crimson’s 85-63 win over the Big Red at Lavietes Pavilion Friday. The Crimson held Cornell to just 15 first-half points and 40% shooting on the night. | Photo by Erica Denhoff

Reflections

While Harvard’s athletic dominance will not translate to matchups against tougher Ivy opponents, this performance provided a much-needed boost of confidence and bodes well for the Crimson’s chances at a tournament. For a team that has struggled to assert its will against weaker competition, the dominant first half was driven by a necessary sense of urgency and aggressive play. In the second half, game-time reps for less experienced guards, like Tretout, could accelerate their improvement and help stabilize Harvard’s depleted backcourt against better opponents. However, some areas of concern remained visible for the Crimson, even in a dominant defensive performance. Cornell still got to the free throw line 22 times, and keeping Columbia and Mike Smith away from the charity stripe would represent marked improvement in a key area.

The Bulldogs’ dominant victory against Princeton in Jadwin Gym solidifies their status as the class of the Ivy, while Brown’s upset of Penn at the Palestra makes the race for Ivy League Tournament seeding particularly interesting. Harvard is currently 0-3 against the other second-tier contenders, albeit by tiny margins and on the road. Taking care of business in Lavietes against their competitors will be crucial in fighting for a tourney seed and ideally avoiding a first-round matchup against Yale.

Cornell all-time scoring leader Matt Morgan was on hand for the Big Red’s matchup with Harvard at Lavietes Pavilion Friday. Morgan averaged 23.8 points per game in four career contests at Lavietes, but the Big Red had to do their best without him in an 85-63 loss to the Crimson. | Photo by Erica Denhoff

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