Oliver McNally made all four of his free throws and finished with nine points in the win over No. 20 FSU (Kerzner International/Issac Baldizon).
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – The Harvard men's basketball team earned its first win over a top-25 team since 2009, as the Crimson topped No. 20 Florida State, 46-41, in a defensive contest during a semifinal game of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament Friday afternoon.
The Crimson, which improve to 5-0 on the season will face Central Florida in the championship game Saturday at 4:30 p.m. The game will be shown live on Versus.
Oliver McNally led the Crimson in scoring with nine points, while Saunders added seven. Harvard held the Seminoles to only 17 field goals, as FSU (5-1) shot 36.2 percent from the floor. The Crimson outrebounded FSU, 40-30, with Keith Wright leading the way with eight boards for Harvard. Brandyn Curry made five steals for Harvard, which forced 16 Seminole turnovers. FSU's Michael Snaer was the only player on either team to reach double figures, as he finished with 10 points.
FSU's 41 points was the least for a Harvard opponent since the Crimson held Dartmouth to 40 points in a 59-40 win in Hanover, N.H., Jan. 6, 1996.
McNally gave Harvard a 2-0 edge early with two connections from the foul line, as neither team managed a field goal until the 15:04 mark when McNally nailed a trey to make it 5-0. Midway through the half, Jonah Travis nailed two free throws to give Harvard a 7-0 lead. The Crimson defense held tough until just under nine minutes left in the stanza, as FSU missed its first 14 shots of the game over the first 11:11 of action.
With just under six minutes left in the first, Steve Moundou-Missi hit a basket to give the Crimson a 10-9 lead. With time winding down, Webster nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game, 14-14, heading into halftime. The 28 combined points by Harvard and FSU in the first half tied a record for fewest points in a half in the shot-clock era (since 1986). Harvard shot 3-of-23 (.130) from the field, while the Seminoles were 5-of-24 (.208) in the half. The Crimson also came down with 25 rebounds, with Wright grabbing a team-best six.
Kyle Casey opened the second with a thunderous alley-oop after Curry tossed up a pass just to the right of the hoop, making it 16-14. With just under 15 minutes left to go, Wright added a two-handed jam to give Harvard a 19-16 advantage. Saunders drove the lane for a dunk of his own moments later as Harvard led, 21-16, with 12:47 remaining.
With 8:53 to go, Wright dunked the ball with authority on the fast-break and made the free throw after being fouled, giving Harvard a 26-24 advantage. On the Crimson's next trip down the floor, Laurent Rivard drained a trey to make it 29-24. Curry connected with Moundou-Miss for a lay-up with 7:19 to play, as Harvard opened a seven-point lead, 31-24.
Rivard buried another triple to give Harvard a 34-26 lead with just over six minutes to play. Wesley Saunders hit a layup with 4:15 to go, making it a 36-29 game in favor of the Crimson. Saunders stepped up to the free-throw line with 2:49 left, hitting one to give Harvard a five-point cushion, 37-32.
With 57 seconds left, Curry hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired and then made two free throws after being fouled on the next possession to give Harvard a 42-34 lead, putting the game out of reach.
The Crimson finished the game 12-of-44 from the field (.273), but was 17-of-24 from the foul line (.708). The Seminoles only made 4-of-10 foul shots (.400).
Prior to upsetting Florida State, the Crimson last defeated a top-25 team when Harvard downed another ACC team, No. 17 Boston College, 82-70-, Jan. 7, 2009.
Harvard Head Coach Tommy Amaker
"We are thrilled to be in the position we are to play a very unusual type of game this afternoon with the stats sheet – I don't think I have ever seen a game like that. I kind of find it hard to come out on top against a national ranked and outstanding defensive team with Florida State. I am very pleased with the effort that our guys have shown at Battle 4 Atlantis. We are a veteran ball club and we went against another veteran ball club and both teams were trying to find their way through this and we were fortunate to have made some plays down the stretch and inbounding the ball to come out with a victory."
"Brandyn is our best playmaker. We always want the ball in his hands to make a play and to score as well. The three pointer he made late in the game was a huge shot and he also made some terrific basketball plays – finding other players open. We had to have a group effort, especially on the defense side at the end. Everyone was helping to rebound. "
Harvard Senior Guard Oliver McNally
"I think we were really solid. We didn't really have a specific focus on one FSU player. We stuck to our defense strategy that we have been doing the whole year, but neither team shot the ball very well."