After a six-game winning streak gave Harvard a fighting chance to seize the top seed in the Ivy League Tournament from arch-rival Yale, the Crimson men fell to Brown, 64-55, at home Friday night and locked themselves into a matchup with Princeton. The Bears, who are wrapping up an impressive season but failed to vault into the top tier of the league, completed a season sweep of Harvard on the strength of 20 points from Zach Hunsaker and a solid defensive effort. On Senior Night, Harvard was as usual led by Chris Lewis, who had 13 points on 6-for-7 shooting, but sorely missed the steady hand of injured guard Christian Juzang. The usually reliable Noah Kirkwood struggled from the floor, shooting only 4-for-13 with no assists, and freshman guard Idan Tretout was not able to pick up the backcourt slack after having been thrust into action.
- Luck of the Crimson: It is no exaggeration to claim that Harvard’s injured list this season, headlined by Seth Towns and Bryce Aiken along with Juzang and Kale Catchings, could form the nucleus of a team favored to win the Ivy League. While the current team’s success speaks to an impressive recruiting and coaching effort by coach Tommy Amaker and his staff, as well as to the resilience of players like Lewis, Juzang and Robert Baker, this senior class will rightfully be more remembered for what might have been.
- While tomorrow’s tilt with Yale obviously carries a good deal of significance simply because it is a rivalry game, it no longer has any bearing on the final standings. Instead, the focus shifts to the upcoming Ivy League Tournament. Harvard has already shown the ability to beat both Yale and Princeton, but may struggle in the intensity of postseason competition without an experienced backcourt. The scoring burden will fall especially heavy on Kirkwood and Lewis. Rio Haskett and Justin Bassey will be forced to step outside their comfort zones on offense while maintaining excellent defense against their talented counterparts. The Crimson have not been able to finish the job as a No. 1 seed the past two seasons, although they fell to No. 2 seeds playing on their home floor on both occasions. Perhaps this season’s lack of expectations coupled with playing at home will lead to a better result. It would help if Juzang would be available for the tourney, something that Amaker said Friday he was “hopeful” would happen, per the Harvard Crimson.
- Harvard’s loss was its first at Lavietes Pavilion since Feb. 9, 2019, when the Crimson came up short versus Cornell, 67-61.
- Brown, meanwhile, stayed in Ivy League Tournament contention with its first win at Lavietes since 2008 and would clinch a tourney berth with a win at Dartmouth and a Penn loss at home to Columbia Saturday night.