Harvard downed Princeton, 79-67, to earn at least a share of its first Ivy League title (Gil Talbot).
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's basketball team claimed a share of its first Ivy League title in program history, defeating the visiting Princeton Tigers, 79-67, at Lavietes Pavilion Saturday night. Kyle Casey led the Crimson with 24 points, while Brandyn Curry added a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists.
With the victory Harvard claims at least a share of its first Ivy League title. Princeton heads to Penn for a Tuesday matchup to wrap up the regular season. A Tigers victory will force a one-game playoff between Princeton and Harvard. A Quakers win will give the Crimson the Ivy League title outright and its first trip to the NCAA tournament since 1946.
Harvard finishes its regular season with a 23-5, 12-2 Ivy record and went undefeated at Lavietes Pavilon (14-0). The Crimson, which has won 17 in a row at home, improves on its season-high victories in a season total (23) with Saturday's win and established a new program record for Ivy wins in a year (12).
Keith Wright added a career-high six blocks and scored 13 for the Crimson, while Oliver McNally tallied 15 points. going 10-for-10 from the foul line in the win. Dan Mavraides led Princeton (23-6, 11-2 Ivy) with 25 points.
After McNally drilled two free throws to give Harvard an early 4-3 lead, the Tigers answered with a 3-pointer to grab a 6-4 advantage. Curry came right down the floor and hit a trey of his own to put the Crimson back on top, 7-6. A few minutes later, Curry found Wright for a layup under the basket to make it 11-10 in favor of Harvard, as the Crimson made four of its first five field-goal attempts. The Tigers went up 17-15 with a triple with just under 14 minutes left, but Casey answered with a jump shot from the right side to knot the score.
With 11:52 remaining in the half, Curry dished out his sixth assist, as he lobbed a pass to Casey for an alley-oop tip-in, as Harvard went back on top, 21-19. Christian Webster made a jumper in the lane with 10:43 left, as the Crimson went up by four, 23-19. The Tigers grabbed a one-point advantage, 27-26, with five minutes to play, and increased its lead to 29-26 when Princeton's Dan Mavraides hit two from the line. On the next Harvard possession, Laurent Rivard made a high arching 3-pointer to tie the game with 4:07 to go in the half. With 3:09 left, Casey made an acrobatic layup while being fouled and hit the free throw to give Harvard a three-point edge, 32-29.
The Tigers scored seven of the next nine points to take a 36-34 lead, but Rivard was fouled trying a 3-pointer with one second left in the half and made all three from the charity stripe to give Harvard a 37-36 advantage heading into the locker room. Harvard shot 54.5 percent in the first half and was 11-of-13 from the line (.846). The Tigers owned a large advantage in rebounds, 17-9, after the first 20 minutes. Casey was Harvard's leading scorer at the break with 17 points, while Curry had six assists after one half.
Curry dribbled the length of the floor before hitting a jumper to give Harvard a 41-38 edge at the 18:46 mark of the second half. With 17:19 left, Curry found McNally for a wide open trey from the right wing as the Crimson went up by four, 44-40. Less than 30 seconds later, Casey had a highlight reel one-handed slam with contact and made the foul shot to give Harvard a five-point lead, 47-42. McNally added two more free throws to build Harvard's lead up to seven, 51-44.
With 13:24 left, Matt Brown hit a fallaway 3-pointer just as the shot clock was expiring to give Harvard its largest lead to that point, 56-47. Wright made a layup after receiving a pass from Brown, as the Crimson continued to remain in control, 60-50. Casey sank a jumper off a screen to push Harvard lead to 12, 64-52, with 9:45 remaining.
The Tigers pulled back within six, 64-58, with six minutes to go, and Princeton's Ian Hummer 1-of-2 at the line to cut the Harvard lead to just five. On the Crimson's next trip down the floor, Curry dribbled through the Princeton defense and hit a layup while drawing a foul. Curry made the ensuing foul shot and then found Wright for a basket as Harvard increased its lead back to 10, 69-59, with 4:22 to play.
With 1:34 left, Princeton's Mack Darrow converted a conventional three-point play to cut the Crimson's advantage to six, 73-67. Brown was fouled with 46.7 ticks left on the clock and connected on both foul shots to put the game out of reach, 75-67.
Princeton was unable to convert again from the field, while Harvard added four more from the charity stripe to give the Crimson a 79-67 victory.
Harvard shot 60 percent from the floor (24-of-40) and 90 percent from the charity stripe (27-of-30).