In a game in which they were favored by 14.5 points, Harvard struggled to pull away from Columbia and barely escaped with a victory in double overtime. Mike Smith scored 38 points, more than half of Columbia’s total output, and came very close to stunning the Crimson on the road. Harvard struggled badly to generate offense, attempting most of its field goals from beyond the three-point line and making only eight of 43, and contain Smith, who took 37 shots and made 17 in 49 minutes of play. Both sides made crucial plays to extend the game. Smith drove to the basket for an open layup to tie the game at the end of regulation, and Christian Juzang scored after a crucial offensive rebound by Justin Bassey to force double overtime.
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.
Live by the opponent’s last-second free throw, die by the opponent’s last-second free throw.
Harvard concluded a wild four-game road stretch with a 72-71 loss when Brown’s Tamenang Choh finished an “and-one” in the waning seconds, a night after Yale’s Azar Swain failed to convert a similar opportunity. On the back of Choh’s heroics and a dominant performance from Brandon Anderson, the Bears (11-8, 4-2 Ivy) picked up a crucial home win against the rival Crimson (14-7, 3-3) and proved that they can play with the best of the Ivy. The Crimson go home disappointed after four straight tight contests with surviving optimism about their ceiling but with urgent questions about their ability to finish games. The thrilling conclusion lent some excitement to a game that was otherwise difficult to watch, thanks to overzealous refereeing and occasional difficulties with clock management.
The Harvard men announced a challenging 2019-2020 schedule, on Tuesday afternoon, which the Crimson faithful hope will prepare the team not only for its third straight regular season title, but its first Ivy Tournament championship and first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2015.
The 15 game nonconference schedule features the usual contests against in-state rivals, as well as trips to Toronto, Florida, D.C. and California. The early part of the schedule will see the Crimson facing anywhere from four-to-five top-100 teams.
No. 6 Harvard put up a valiant effort in the second round of the NIT Sunday night but fell, 78-77, at No. 2 NC State in a game that showed how talented the Crimson really are.
Tommy Amaker summed things up simply when he stepped into today’s postgame press conference: “We had to do everything we could to make winning plays to win the game.”
But they did.
Harvard took Penn’s best punches in each of the two halves but proved to be too strong and too deep for a Quakers team that has been depleted by injuries all season long. Bryce Aiken, a two-time first-team All-Ivy guard, epitomized this for the Crimson as he scored 17 of his team-high 19 points in the last eight minutes of each half.
The game started out well for Penn, which used a 7-0 run to jump out to a 14-4 lead at the 13:21 mark of the first half. Harvard chipped away and eventually took its first lead of the game, 31-28, after a Noah Kirkwood three with 3:56 left in the first half. The Crimson held on and went to the locker room, up 36-34.
The Dartmouth men’s basketball team welcomes Harvard on Saturday night for both programs’ Ivy tip-off. The Crimson have won the last four meetings and five of the last six, including both games in 2018. On Jan. 6, Harvard beat Dartmouth 61-51 at Lavietes Pavilion, while earning a 62-57 overtime victory at Leede Arena on Jan. 20.
The Big Green, picked eighth in the Ivy media preseason poll, finished the nonconference schedule at 9-7, already the most single season wins in coach David McLaughlin’s three-year tenure and the school’s best mark since going 8-4 in the 1996-97 campaign. The team is now ranked at No. 223 by KenPom, the program’s best since 2015, and look to defend their home court against the 2018 regular season co-champs and 2019 preseason Ivy favorites.
Harvard took the floor on Saturday night with an immediate disadvantage: already 8.5-point underdogs on the road against the Gaels, the Crimson had arguably their three best players donning street clothes. On the far right side of their bench sat Bryce Aiken, Seth Towns, and, to the surprise of many, Chris Lewis, Harvard’s leading scorer.
After earning Ivy Rookie of the Year honors in his freshman campaign, Aiken battled knee ailments all of last year and missed an extended amount of time. When he did play, it was clear that he wasn’t at full strength. The former top-100 recruit underwent surgery this past offseason, and was expected to be healthy by the start of this year. However, Aiken has yet to see action in the 2018-19 season.
It’s been an eerily similar journey for Towns, whose breakout sophomore season earned him the 2017-18 Ivy League Men’s Player of the Year award. The lanky sharpshooter scored just under 23 points per 40 minutes last year, shooting more than 44 percent from deep. His impact on Harvard’s offense was especially noticeable late in the shot clock; when the Crimson had no open looks and the clock was nearing zero, Towns would often create shots on his own via isolation play.