Laurent Rivard scored a game-high 16 points to lead the Crimson past Cornell Friday night (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Laurent Rivard led the Crimson with 16 points and Kyle Casey added 13, as the No. 23 Harvard men's basketball team won its 24th straight game at home, defeating Cornell, 71-60, Friday afternoon at a sold out Lavietes Pavilion.
The Crimson, which has won seven straight games, ties its program record with a 5-0 start to Ivy League play (1980-81) and improves to 19-2 overall. Cornell slips to 7-12 and 2-3 in the Ancient Eight. Harvard is also tied for the best start in program history, matching the 1945-46 squad.
Keith Wright scored nine on 4-of-5 shooting and had a team-high seven boards, while Wesley Saunders contributed eight points. Harvard shot 18-of-44 overall (.409), including 6-of-20 (.300) from beyond the arc. The Crimson also went to the foul line 34 times, hitting 29 shots (.853). The Crimson held the Big Red to 20-of-53 shooting (.377) and outrebounded Cornell by a 34-30 margin.
Johnathan Gray led Cornell with 14 points.
Wright scored the Crimson's first five points of the game, as he converted a conventional 3-point play, as Harvard led early on, 5-2. After Cornell tied it, 7-7, Brandyn Curry drove the lane and finished with a layup putting Harvard back on top, 9-7. With 12:55 to play in the first, Christian Webster drilled a trey, making it 13-9 in favor of the Crimson. Casey increased Harvard's lead to 17-11 when he hit a layup after being fouled at 11:22 remaining.
With 10:17 left, Rivard stole the ball in the Cornell zone and dribbled down the floor with a bucket in the paint and the harm. He made the ensuing free throw giving the Crimson an eight-point lead, 21-13. Harvard continued to grow its lead, as Rivard drained a triple from the right side, 25-15. With 5:47 left, Rivard was fouled before he made another 3-pointer, giving Harvard a 12-point edge, 30-18.
With time winding down in the first half, Saunders banked a layup, giving Harvard a 38-24 lead at the break. Rivard led all scorers with 11 points at the half, shooting 3-of-5, including 2-of-4 from long distance. The Crimson made 10-of-22 field goals (.450) and hit 15-of-18 free throws (.833). Harvard held the Big Red to just 8-of-26 shooting (.310) and outrebounded Cornell, 18-14.
After Cornell cut the deficit to 41-31, Casey ended the run with a dunk through traffic, and Rivard added a layup on the fast break, putting Harvard back up by 14, 45-31. With 10:20 to go, Casey was fouled attempting a left-handed layup and made both, 49-33.
Casey added a triple with 9:19 left, giving the Crimson its largest lead to that point, 54-33. Less than a minute later, Steve Moundou-Missi converted a conventional 3-point play, making it 57-35. Webster buried a wide-open triple with six minutes left, keeping Harvard up by 20, 60-40.
Cornell got within, 15-, 62-47, but Rivard hit his third 3-pointer of the game to put the game out of reach, making it 69-50.
Harvard hosts Columbia Saturday evening at 7 p.m.