Harvard takes No. 5 Maryland to the limit before falling short, 80-73

For a while, Black Friday looked completely Crimson.

Harvard gave the No. 5 team in the country all it could handle in the semifinals of the Orlando Invitational Friday, holding onto a double-digit lead well into the first half and attaining a 51-44 lead with 11:45 to play.

But Maryland took a lead with 6:41 remaining that it would never relinquish en route to an 80-73 victory.

Harvard (5-3) got out to a fast start, scoring the game’s first nine points, including two early treys from Robert Baker, while the Terrapins (7-0) didn’t crack double digits in scoring until the 9:53 mark of the first half. The Crimson’s lead peaked at 23-12 after a Noah Kirkwood layup with 6:51 to play in the opening stanza.

The Crimson’s early advantage could have been larger if they didn’t miss five of their first seven free throws a day after going 22-for-22 from the foul line in their Orlando Invitational opening round win over Texas A&M.

The Crimson went into halftime with a 35-31 lead, but Maryland’s offense settled into a rhythm as the second half progressed. The Terrapins grabbed a 61-58 lead with 6:41 to go and gained more momentum from there, eventually cracking open a 74-64 lead with 1:40 to play.

Bryce Aiken was KenPom’s game MVP and knocked down big shot after big shot, several times from deep into three-point land, notching a game-high 30 points on 10-for-18 shooting from the floor for theĀ seventh 30-point game of his career. Noah Kirkwood impressed offensively with 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the floor and the highest offensive rating of the game per KenPom.

Chris Lewis tallied 11 points and two blocks in 25 minutes but picked up his fourth foul with the game tied at 58-58 with 7:16 to play, prompting coach Tommy Amaker to bench him. By the time Lewis returned with 3:01 remaining, the Crimson trailed 68-61 and were behind by six points or more the rest of the game.

Maryland outrebounded Harvard, 44-29, and was led by Anthony Cowan, who scored 17 of his 20 points in the second half and also posted five assists and three steals. Also scoring in double figures for the Terrapins were Jalen Smith, Darryl Morsell, Aaron Wiggins and Eric Ayala.

Harvard will square off with the loser of Marquette and USC in the third-place game of the Orlando Invitational on Sunday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.