Harvard men hold on in overtime versus Cornell to stay competitive in Ivy Madness race

Noah Kirkwood kept Harvard very much in the Ivy League Tournament race with a 31-point, eight-rebound, four-assist performance in the Crimson’s 77-72 overtime win versus Cornell Saturday. (Photo by Erica Denhoff)

After a disappointing loss at Dartmouth Friday, the Cornell men had no time to ruminate. They had to travel to Harvard and try to maintain crucial Ivy League Tournament leverage versus the Crimson.

But despite overcoming a 19-point second-half deficit and forcing overtime, Cornell fell to Harvard, 77-72, for the team’s third consecutive loss Saturday.

The Crimson (13-10, 5-6 Ivy) snatched an early lead from the Big Red (13-10, 5-7) and maintained it throughout the first half. A 5-0 spurt for Harvard in the final minutes gave the hosts a 43-26 lead at the break.

But Cornell wouldn’t go down easy. Trailing by 19 with 16:28 remaining, the Big Red started to chip away at Harvard’s lead. With 9:24 to go, Cornell ignited on an 18-0 run to take a two-point lead with 3:25 to go.

Sam Silverstein connected on a layup for the Crimson with 45 seconds left and Sean Hansen responded on the other end for Cornell. Harvard wasted most of the remaining 37 seconds and Evan Nelson missed a layup at the end of the shot clock, putting the ball in the Big Red’s hands with four seconds to go. Dean Noll’s shot out of a timeout was an airball, sending the game into overtime.

Noah Kirkwood scored just seconds into overtime for Harvard, but Hansen responded immediately on the other end. A quick 7-0 spurt put the Crimson up seven with two minutes remaining and they’d hold on to win by five.

Harvard shot 48% from the field and made nine three-pointers. They turned the ball over 13 times. Kirkwood led the Crimson with a career-high 31 points, and Luka Sakota added 18.

Cornell shot 48% from the field and made eight of their 31 three-point attempts. The Big Red drew even with the Crimson in rebounds (36) and recorded 13 turnovers. Chris Manon led the team with 15 points while Hansen pitched in 13.

Harvard has three conference games remaining while Cornell has two. The Crimson have a half-game advantage over the Big Red in the standings, but Cornell owns the tiebreaker between the teams by virtue of its win over the highest seed outside the tie – Princeton earlier this month.

Next up, Cornell returns home to host Yale while Harvard plays a home-and-home with Princeton this weekend.