Harvard all-time moment No. 10: Clinching second NCAA Tournament appearance

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 a Harvard study has predicted the Miami Dolphins are going to the Super Bowl, and that’s totally going to happen.

Going into the final weekend of the 2013 Ivy League season, Princeton led Harvard by half a game, after Harvard had been swept by the P’s only a weekend earlier. The Tigers were in control of their own destiny: three wins and they would be in the tournament. However, Friday night had yielded a Harvard win and a Princeton loss, essentially tying the two teams atop the conference. A Crimson win over Cornell and a Princeton loss to Brown would clinch the tournament for Harvard, but if both teams won out – as was expected –  another Ivy playoff would ensue.

Harvard vs. Cornell began at 5:30 p.m. in Cambridge, while Princeton vs. Brown began a half hour later in Providence. Harvard led Cornell all game and won by nine points, behind 16 points from Siyani Chambers and 17 points from Laurent Rivard. Then all attention turned to Providence, where Brown led Princeton by four points at the half, leading many Harvard fans and players to stick around Lavietes Pavilion in case something miraculous happened. One fan was able to turn on the PA system, and he announced the score every time a bucket was scored. As the game wound down, Brown gained a commanding lead. The Harvard crowd became giddy with excitement as the Crimson clinched their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance (more on that later).

Check out the last few seconds of this video to see the Harvard fans’ reaction.

 

ALL FOOLS’ DAY: Dartmouth raises fourth-place banner

The Dartmouth basketball team on Tuesday raised a banner at Leede Arena to honor its CIT berth this season, the program’s first postseason appearance since 1959.

The banner read, “Fourth Place”.

Dartmouth then raised a 2014-15 Ivy League championship banner honoring Harvard next to the fourth-place banner.

“We made this happen,” Dartmouth forward Gabas Maldunas said.

Maldunas then told reporters a banner honoring him would be raised at Lavietes Pavilion next week. Maldunas said the banner will hang next to Harvard’s own 2014-15 Ivy championship banner and read, “Thank you, Gabas.”

“You’re welcome,” Maldunas told reporters about the scoop, which was later confirmed by Harvard athletic director Bob Scalise.

Harvard defeats Yale, 53-51, clinches fourth straight NCAA tourney berth

Four in a row.

The Harvard Crimson locked up their fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance with a 53-51 win over Yale at the Palestra in the league’s playoff game. The game-winning perimeter shot came from senior forward Steve Moundou-Missi, who finished with 11 points and nine rebounds. The assist, fittingly, came from senior guard Wesley Saunders, who posted 22 points, 18 of them in the second half. A floater off a drive from Yale senior guard Javier Duren rolled out as time expired, sealing the Crimson win.

Harvard led 46-37 with 6:22 left and went into conservative mode, dribbling possessions down and trying to hang onto the lead. Yale responded with a 12-2 run in the next 4:36, capped by a jumper from freshman guard Makai Mason, who was elbowed earlier in the half without a foul call being called, resulting in a gash on his head that rattled the Bulldogs in the early part of the half. Nevertheless, the Crimson were lifted not by that but by a 9-0 run from Saunders alone a quarter of the way through the second stanza.

Harvard also opened the game on an 8-0 run before Yale responded with a 14-3 run in the next 5:45, and the Elis led 27-23 at halftime. Ivy Player of the Year and Yale junior forward Justin Sears finished with 13 points, five rebounds and three steals, while Yale senior guard Javier Duren notched 12 points and six rebounds on 2-for-10 shooting.

In Harvard’s loss to Yale at Lavietes Pavilion last weekend, the Crimson shot just 1-for-13 from three-point range, losing by 10, 62-52. In Harvard’s win Saturday, it shot 5-for-14, collecting 12 more points from beyond the arc and winning by two.

Harvard’s opponent in the NCAA tournament will be determined Sunday. The Crimson have won their first game in the tournament in each of the past two seasons. Harvard and Yale were slated for the playoff game after finishing with identical 11-3 records in league play. The Crimson’s previous playoff game appearance was a 63-62 loss to Princeton at Yale’s Payne Whitney Gym in 2011, decided at the buzzer.

Do you believe in miracles?

To relive the insane action of Saturday night in video form like never before, click here.

It was about 10:30 p.m. at Lavietes Pavilion on Friday night. Thirty minutes earlier, Yale had defeated Harvard, 62-52. The fans had long since left, most disappointed. Yale players, coaches and their families hugged and celebrated their Ivy title and likely trip to the NCAA Tournament. Their bliss, though hard to swallow for a Crimson onlooker, was well-deserved. The Bulldogs had done it. They had beaten Harvard to virtually assure an end to the Crimson’s reign of dominance in the Ivy League – or, at least, to postpone it for a year.

But Harvard senior Wesley Saunders wasn’t ready to concede the trophy just yet. When asked about his team’s chances of getting another opportunity to knock off Yale in a one-game playoff, he said, “Crazier things have happened.” I’m not sure what “crazy” things Saunders was referring to, but there’s no way they could have been more insane than what went down on Saturday night atop the Ivy League.

Read moreDo you believe in miracles?

Ivy Friday Roundup

Dartmouth 75, Brown 69

Wow. Just wow. Brown raced to a 14-0 lead and seemed to have the win secured with a 50-26 lead and 13:58 remaining. Not so. The Big Green finished the game on a 49-19 run, aided by three Brown technical fouls and a 17-point effort from last week’s Ivy Co-Player of the Week Malik Gill. Just a week after Brown overcame a 40-23 deficit to trump Cornell, a comeback got the best of the Bears this time around. Dartmouth, which went on a 26-2 run en route to a win at Harvard earlier this season, now awaits Yale, which had a little success of its own at Lavietes Pavilion and needs the win to clinch its first outright Ivy crown and NCAA tournament berth since 1962. Of course, a win over Yale launched the Big Green into the postseason (in this case, the CIT) for the first time since 1959, so Dartmouth has already won the drought game.

Penn 54, Columbia 46

As Penn coach Jerome Allen pointed out after the game, Columbia scored 46 in the first half against Penn a month ago en route to an 83-56 romp. Tonight, it took the Lions the entire game to reach that total. Junior guard Tony Hicks led the way for Penn, posting 19 points and eight boards, helping Penn snap a seven-game losing streak.

Princeton 66, Cornell 53

The Tigers’ 23 bench points and 15-point performance from senior guard Clay Wilson lifted Princeton past the Big Red, which shot just 37.5 percent in spite of senior forward Shonn Miller, who posted 25 points. And of course, sophomore forward Spencer Weisz notched 10 points, the 10th straight game Princeton has won when Weisz scores in double figures.

 

Yale defeats Harvard, clinches share of first Ivy title since 2002

Javier Duren notched a winning stat line: 22 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block at Harvard.(ivyleaguesports.com)
Javier Duren notched a winning stat line: 22 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block at Harvard.(ivyleaguesports.com)

Yale is a win away from history.

The Bulldogs clinched a share of their first Ivy title since 2002 Friday night by defeating Harvard at Lavietes Pavilion in Boston, 62-52. The win, fueled by senior guard Javier Duren’s 22 points and nine rebounds, gives Yale the chance to earn its first NCAA tournament berth since 1962 with a win at Dartmouth tomorrow night.

The Elis’ win at Harvard, which has represented the Ivy League in the NCAA tournament each of the past four seasons, played out in surprising fashion.

Read moreYale defeats Harvard, clinches share of first Ivy title since 2002

Yale-Harvard: The matchups that matter most

It used to always be this simple. Two teams — archrivals head and shoulders above the rest of the league — battle through the long slog of a 14-game tournament, rising above the Other Six to meet in an epic finale. With condolences to the P’s, this season, we return to that reliable formula under the New World Order as, for the second consecutive year, Harvard and Yale enter the final weekend as the only two teams still with a shot at the Ivy title.

Let’s take a look at the key matchups in this winner-take-all grudge match (though Brown and Dartmouth may have a few things to say about that on Saturday):

Read moreYale-Harvard: The matchups that matter most

The Game 2.0

Can Harvard break Yale's heart in "The Game" once again? (gocrimson.com)
Can Harvard break Yale’s heart in “The Game” once again? (gocrimson.com)

On Nov. 22, 2014, Harvard defeated Yale in a thriller on the gridiron just a few hundred yards from Lavietes Pavilion. This Friday, Yale will get its chance at revenge – not only for this fall’s loss, but also for losses in 13 of the last 14 football “Games,” as well as for four straight years of Harvard dominance in men’s basketball. However, when the Bulldogs arrive in Cambridge this Friday, they will not be focused on past results; they will have their sights set on the 2015 Ivy League championship. This would be Yale’s first conference title since 2002.

There is also no shortage of motivation on the Harvard side. The Crimson will go for its fifth straight Ivy title. The last a team to do that was Penn (six straight from 1970 to 1975).

Evidently, this is it. The winner of this game will clinch a share of the Ivy title. So the question looms: Harvard or Yale? Who will win Friday’s showdown? Who will hoist the 2015 Ivy League Championship banner? Who’s going dancing? Luckily, I’m here to answer that question. To begin, let’s take a look at a few key matchups:

Read moreThe Game 2.0

Crimson vanquish P’s, secure sole possession of first place

Harvard appears to be closing in on a fifth straight Ivy crown, but the Crimson aren't in the clear just yet. (Robert Crawford)
Harvard appears to be closing in on a fifth straight Ivy crown, but the Crimson aren’t in the clear just yet. (Robert Crawford)

It was about 4:00 on a Saturday afternoon in late January. Harvard had just suffered a crushing defeat to Dartmouth at home. The Crimson’s record was 1-1 in Ivy play. The Ivy season was still young, but to many this loss proved that Harvard was not the team it once was. The door was left wide open for Yale – in fact, the door had swung off its hinges. A few minutes after the buzzer sounded, the distraught Crimson players came back onto the floor to sign autographs for their young fans. At the time, the smiles on these kids’ faces made them look naive – but knowing how insignificant that loss seems now, perhaps those kids’ prophetic smiles proved they knew more about the Crimson’s future than the rest of us.

That hypothesis is supported by the next day’s headlines and the initial reaction to that second Harvard-Dartmouth game. A trusted source for Ivy basketball on Twitter ripped into Tommy Amaker for his lineup decisions and then stated, “When [Harvard] loses the league, this will be why.” A writer for our own Ivy Hoops Online wrote in a piece about Yale that “Harvard is not that good.” In the face of all of this negativity, Harvard basketball’s mantra became “regroup and respond,” and over the last month (during which the Crimson have won eight straight Ivy games), that’s just what this team has done. Harvard’s two wins this past weekend over Penn and Princeton, combined with Columbia’s victory over Yale on Saturday night, have placed Harvard in sole possession of first place (9-1), one game ahead of Yale (8-2).

Read moreCrimson vanquish P’s, secure sole possession of first place

A tale of two halves is the tale of two wins

Siyani Chambers' step-back jumper just inside the three-point line buried Columbia with 2.9 seconds left, resulting in a 72-68 victory for the Crimson.
Siyani Chambers’ step-back jumper just inside the three-point line buried Columbia with 2.9 seconds left, resulting in a 72-68 victory for the Crimson.

This past weekend, Harvard continued its nerve-wracking habit of playing excellent basketball for only one half of the game, which ultimately led them to two more crucial victories over Columbia and Cornell. Unfortunately, the Crimson played one half on Friday and one half on Saturday that were certainly below the standard of a team that is fighting to be the best team in the Ivy League. So far, Harvard has gotten away with its heart attack-inducing ways, but the question looms: Can they keep this up for six more games?

Read moreA tale of two halves is the tale of two wins