CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's basketball team won its 13th straight game at home and improved to 10-0 at Lavietes Pavilion on the season, as the Crimson held off Cornell, 78-57, before a sold out home crowd of 2,195 Saturday evening. Keith Wright scored 21 and pulled down 11 boards, including nine offensive rebounds, while Kyle Casey added 16 points and nine rebounds to help the Crimson win its eighth straight game.
The victory marks a milestone for the Crimson, which sees its record move to 15-3 overall and 4-0 in the Ivy League. Harvard is off to its second best overall start in program history (19-3, 1945-46) and best conference start since going 5-0 in 1990-91. The Crimson also matches its best home record in program history, tying the 1937-38 team which went 10-0 on its home court. Harvard has won 13 straight at Lavietes Pavilion and eight in a row overall, marking the longest win streak for the Crimson since starting the 1984-85 campaign.
The loss drops Cornell to 4-14 and 0-4 in the Ancient Eight. Errick Peck paced the Big Red effort with 15 points. Brandyn Curry scored 10, to go along with seven assists and three blocks, and Laurent Rivard tallied 12 points and Christian Webster notched 10 points in a winning effort for the Crimson. Oliver McNally was also strong with the ball, assisting on seven buckets without a turnover. As a team, Harvard had 17 assists and only four turnovers.
An alley-oop pass from Curry to Casey for a jam gave Harvard a 4-3 lead early on, before Curry knocked down a trey to put the Crimson on top by four, 7-3. Wright added to the lead by following his own shot, grabbing an offensive board and laying the ball into the hoop, making it 9-3. The Crimson completed the 13-0 run with another three from the right corner from the left hand of Curry and a free throw by Wright, as Harvard led, 13-3, with 13:33 to play in the first half. The Big Red recovered and then went on a 7-0 run of its own to pull within three, 13-10.
Harvard continued to shoot the ball well from long distance in the opening frame, as Webster drilled a wide-open trey to give the Crimson a seven-point advantage, 19-12. Moments later, Curry buried his third three of the half from the right wing, making it 22-14 in favor of the Crimson. With 6:28 to go in the half, Oliver McNally sent a pass to the right corner and Rivard sank a trey, giving the Crimson an eight-point edge, 28-22. Cornell got within three, 30-27, after Peck hit a shot from beyond the arc with 3:49 to go, but the Crimson went back up by five when Wright weaved his way through the defense and made a layup. Wright assisted on Harvard's next basket as he passed the ball to Webster who knocked down another trey, making it 35-27.
With time winding down in the first half, Rivard connected on a long three from the right wing as time expired, sending Harvard to the locker room with a 41-31 advantage. At the break, Harvard had 16 points off turnovers and Wright had six rebounds, all offensive.
The Crimson opened the half with a highlight reel play as Curry sent a pass just above the rim for Casey, who made a thunderous two-handed dunk. Harvard grabbed its largest lead of the game to that point when Rivard hit another trey from the right side with 16:31 remaining, the Crimson went up by 14, 52-38. McNally dished out his seventh assist off an inbound pass as he found Webster open in the lane for a jumper, making it 58-42.
With 7:30 to go, Wright grabbed another offensive board after missing a shot and recovered to make a layup, as Harvard increased its lead to 65-44. With Harvard's next trip down the floor, Wright made a shot after being fouled and hit the ensuing layup as the Crimson continued to pull away and led, 68-46. Two free throws by Webster gave Harvard a 72-50 lead with just 3:54 remaining and Casey added a dunk off a missed Harvard shot to give Harvard a 24-point lead.
The Crimson shot 46.6% from the field for the game and made 50 percent of its 3-point attempts (10-of-20).
Harvard will visit Princeton and Penn for key Ivy League contests Feb. 4-5. The game between the Crimson and Tigers will be broadcast live on ESPNU Friday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m.