CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Kyle Casey had 26 points and 10 rebounds, including 20 points in the second half, while Keith Wright added 16 points to lead the No. 23/24 Harvard men's basketball team to a 74-69 win over Saint Joseph's at a sold out Lavietes Pavilion Saturday afternoon. The Crimson came back from 14 points down in the first and 10 points down at the half to pull out the victory.
With the victory, Harvard extends its home win streak to 21 games, as well as improves to 12-1 on the season, marking the best start for the program since the 1945-46 campaign. Saint Joe's falls to 10-4 on the year.
The Crimson shot 52 percent (13-of-25) in the second half, outscoring the Hawks, 36-21. Harvard also outrebounded Saint Joe's for the game, 31-27. Oliver McNally handed out seven assists, while Brandyn Curry dished out six. Carl Jones led the Hawks with 22 points, while Langston Galloway chipped in with 15.
Wright and Casey hit baskets to start the game, giving the Crimson a 4-0 lead early on. The Hawks answered with a 7-0 run to grab a 7-4 advantage, before Brandyn Curry made a jumper to get the Crimson back within a point. After the Hawks went up by five, 11-6, Christian Webster nailed a trey from the top of the key, cutting the deficit to two. With 14 minutes to play, Jonah Travis made a layup from under the hoop, keeping Harvard within four, 15-11.
Midway through the half, the Hawks opened up a double-digit lead, 25-13, as Saint Joseph's made 10 of its first 11 shots from the field. Wright connected on back-to-back shots to pull Harvard back within 10, 27-17, with 10 minutes to go in the half. On the Crimson's next trip down the floor, Curry hit a runner, cutting the deficit to eight. The Crimson and Hawks traded baskets, as Oliver McNally buried a wide-open 3-pointer, 29-22. With eight minutes left, Casey added another triple, getting the Crimson within five, 32-27.
Wright made his fifth layup of the half with seven minutes remaining, but the Hawks still held a five-point edge, 35-30. St. Joe's answered with an 11-3 run to pull ahead, 46-33, with just under three minutes left in the frame. With time winding down in the half, Curry dished a pass to McNally who pulled up for a 3-pointer at the buzzer, getting Harvard within 10 at the half, 48-38.
At the break, Wright led the Crimson with 10 points at the break, while Curry added four assists in the first 20 minutes. Harvard shot 50 percent from the field (16-of-32) and 50 percent from long range (5-of-10), but the Hawks made 79.2 percent of their baskets (19-of-24) and were 6-of-9 from beyond the arc (.667).
Casey made Harvard's first two baskets of the second, including one on a two-handed dunk from the lane, but Harvard still trailed, 52-42, with 18 minutes remaining. Webster hit a layup on the break to help the Crimson cut the deficit further, 53-46. McNally found Casey for another bucket from under the hoop, giving Casey his seventh and eight points of the half, 55-48.
With 12:36 left in regulation, Curry nailed two shots from the line, keeping Harvard within 10, 59-50. Wright hit a layup with nine minutes to play, as the Crimson cut the deficit further to just seven, 61-54. Wright made another basket on Harvard's next possession to get Harvard within five, 61-56. After the Hawks were whistled for a technical foul, McNally made two from the line, keeping the deficit at five, 63-58.
With 7:01 left, Casey hit a layup after being fouled and made a free throw, to cut the Hawks' lead to just two, 63-61. Wright grabbed a rebound off his own miss and made the ensuing shot with 5:06 to go, as the Crimson stayed within one possession, 66-63. With less than three minutes to play, Casey made a jumper, getting Harvard within one, 68-67.
With 1:49 left, Curry connected on a layup to give Harvard its first lead, 69-68, since holding a 4-3 edge to start the game. With 37 ticks left on the clock, Casey buried an open trey from the right side, giving Harvard a four-point edge, 72-68, and securing the game for the Crimson.
Following the New Year, Harvard will visit Fordham Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 7 p.m. The Crimson will then return home to open Ivy League play against Dartmouth Saturday, Jan. 7 at 2 p.m.