CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Kyle Casey and Keith Wright each shot 8-of-13 from the field to lead the Harvard men's basketball team to a 78-75 victory before 1,763 fans at Lavietes Pavilion Friday evening. Casey finished with 18 points, while Wright added 17 to help the Crimson move to 11-0 at Lavietes, tying Harvard's program record for home victories in a season. Harvard also ties its record for most consecutive homes wins with 14 dating back to last season.
Laurent Rivard hit two treys and was 4-of-5 from the line for 14 points, while Brandyn Curry and Oliver McNally each dished out four assists, as Harvard improved to 17-4 overall and 6-1 in the Ivy League. The Crimson is off to its best conference start since going 7-1 in 1970-71. Yale falls to 11-10 and 4-3 in the Ancient Eight, but had four players reach double figures: Austin Morgan (22), Greg Mangano (19), Jeremiah Kreisberg (12) and Porter Braswell (10).
Harvard, which scored 38 points in the paint, made 50.9 percent of its shots in the game and was 20-of-25 from the charity stripe (.800). The Crimson forced 18 Bulldog turnovers, but was outrebounded, 30-24. Yale also shot well from long distance, hitting 8-of-13 tries from beyond the arc (.615).
After Yale opened up an 8-4 advantage, McNally drove the lane and hit a runner after being fouled at the 15:15 mark. McNally buried the ensuing free throw to bring Harvard within a point, 8-7. Rivard hit a trey from the right wing on the Crimson's next possession to keep pace with the Bulldogs, 11-10. With the Crimson down by four, Casey maneuvered his way around two Yale defenders before throwing home a two-handed dunk with contact. Casey made the shot from the charity stripe, making it 14-13 in favor of Yale. With 11:07 to go in the first half, Curry stole the ball at midcourt, causing a fast break. Curry missed a tough layup, but Wright was there to grab the offensive board and jam it for two points, getting Harvard within two, 18-16.
Matt Brown hit a three just before the midway point of the first half, tying the game, 18-18. On the Crimson's next possession. Laurent Rivard drew contact and made both free throws to give Harvard its first lead, 20-18. With 8:07 remaining in the half, Webster was fouled attempting a 3-pointer and converted all three free throws, getting Harvard within a point, 26-25. Casey made a tough jumper through traffic to put the Crimson ahead, 27-26, and then made a block on the other end with only one second left on the shot clock for Yale. The Bulldogs bounced back, though, to take a 35-30 lead with just 4:01 to go in the frame. On the Crimson's next possession, Curry grabbed an offensive board and sent a pass to the corner, finding Webster for a wide open trey, cutting Harvard's deficit to 35-33.
With the Bulldogs clinging to a 35-34 lead, Casey made a floated in the paint to put the Crimson back on top by a point with just under two minutes to play. With 29 seconds left, Rivard was fouled making a layup on a fastbreak, making it 38-37 in favor of the Crimson. Yale's Porter Braswell made two free throws in the final seconds of the frame to give Yale a 39-38 advantage heading into the locker room. The Crimson shot 54.2 percent from the floor, but was only 10-fo-14 (.714) from the foul line in the first half.
Casey got Harvard started with a layup through traffic in the opening seconds of the second half, putting the Crimson back up by one, 40-39. Wright sank a basket on Harvard's next possession, and then Casey made a fade away jumper to give Harvard a four-point edge, 44-40. The Crimson upped its lead to six when Curry buried two free throws, capping a 7-0 run for Harvard before Yale made a trey to get back within three, 46-43. The Bulldogs crawled back to take a 51-50 advantage with 13:15 remaining. Jeff Georgatos capped a three-point play by connecting on a shot from the line, making it 53-51 in favor of Harvard as the game continued to swing back and forth.
Yale went back up by two, 57-55, with 9:18 to go, but Wright answered on the other end of the floor with an offensive board and successful layup. On Harvard's next possession, Brown hit a three from the right corner, giving Harvard a three-point edge, 60-57. With 7:47 to play, Casey made a layup after being fouled, breaking a 60-60 tie and made the most of his opportunity from the charity stripe, giving Harvard a 63-60 lead.
A trey from the corner by Rivard made it 66-62 in favor of the Crimson with just under six minutes to go. McNally made two free throws to give Harvard its biggest lead, 68-62, with 4:50 remaining. With the game tied, 70-70, Webster took a pass from Wright in the paint and hit a layup with 1:02 remaining to put Harvard back up by two, 72-70. Yale missed a shot on its next possession and fouled Curry with 38.2 ticks left on the clock. Curry made both giving the Crimson a four-point edge, 74-70. Yale's Austin Morgan got Yale within two by making both chances from the foul line, but Wright got the Lavietes crowd on its feet with a two-handed dunk on the fastbreak, as Harvard went back up by four, 76-72.
The Crimson returns to the court Saturday evening to host Brown at 7 p.m.