WEST POINT, N.Y. - Harvard University, which received votes in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll Monday afternoon, fell for the first time this season, 56-53, at Army in a game played at Christl Arena. Both clubs see their records move to 3-1 following the game.
Andrew Van Nest's potential 3-point tying basket hit just left at the buzzer, enabling Army to pull out its first win over the Crimson in its last five tries.
Harvard's first lengthy road trip of the season proved difficult as 20 first half turnovers and struggles at the free throw line allowed Army to escape with the win. Harvard made just 15 field goals in the game and was 19-of-31 at the free throw line.
A desolate first half saw Harvard commit 11 turnovers in the first seven minutes of play and 15 in the first 10 minutes as Army turned a 5-4 deficit into leads of 14-5 and 21-7 by the 7:59 mark with a 17-2 run.
As a result, the Crimson attempted just eight shots in the first 14:30 of play and suffered through a 5:13 scoreless drought. Harvard worked its way back into the game with a 12-2 run to get within 25-21 at the break despite 20 turnovers - two more than their previous season-high which came in the triple overtime win over William & Mary. Harvard finished with 30 turnovers for the game.
The Crimson got Army into significant foul trouble in both halves to remain in contention. In the second half Harvard took its first lead since the opening moments when Doug Miller went to the line to complete a traditional 3-point play and put the Crimson ahead, 30-29. The play dealt a deeper blow to Army as leading scorer Cleveland Richard was whistled for his fourth foul less than five minutes into the half.
Harvard extended its lead to six, 43-37, after a pair of freebies from Oliver McNally but Julian Simmons rattled off eight-straight Army points to tie the game at 46-all with 4:11 left.
Richard put Army on top, 48-47, with 3:27 left after two free throws and McNally answered with a long triple to end a span of 7:47 without a field goal for the Crimson. Army's Chris Walker got away with a travel inside before a hook shot to tie it up. Jeremy Lin then put Harvard on top 51-50 with one free throw at 1:44.
After scoreless exchanges, Marcus Nelson converted a basket under the hoop for Army with 49 seconds left and Harvard was called for an illegal screen 25 feet from the basket to force Harvard into a fouling situation with Army leading, 52-51. Josh Miller hit a free throw with 26 seconds left and missed the second but Harvard could not grab the rebound and had to send the Knights back to the stripe.
Simmons went to the line with 19.1 seconds left and hit both to make it a 55-51 game before Kyle Casey answered at the other end but with only 8.6 seconds left. With 7.3 on the clock, Simmons missed the first free throw but connected with the second to make it a 3-point game to set up the final play.
McNally was the lone Harvard player in double figures with 15 points while Simmons had 16 for the hosts. Harvard finished with 30 turnovers to offset a strong defensive effort that saw it credited with eight blocked shots while holding Army to 34 percent shooting (17-50).