Ivy Champion! Harvard Men’s Basketball Clinches Share of Title With 67-63 Win at Cornell
Keith Wright and the Crimson concluded the regular season 26-4 (Patrick Shanahan).
ITHACA, N.Y. – Oliver McNally made four free throws in the final seconds and scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half, while Brandyn Curry drained four 3-pointers, finishing with 12 points, as the Harvard men's basketball team clinched at least a share of its second straight Ivy League title with a 67-63 win at Cornell Saturday evening.
Harvard, which concludes its regular season 26-4 and 12-2 in the Ancient Eight, will await Tuesday evening's matchup between Penn (11-2 Ivy) and Princeton in Princeton, N.J. A Princeton win would clinch the outright Ivy League title for Harvard, as well as the NCAA tournament's automatic berth, while a Penn victory would force a one-game playoff between the Quakers and Crimson at a to-be-determined date and location.
Kyle Casey scored 11 (4-7 FG), while Keith Wright had eight points (3-6 FG) and 11 rebounds. The Crimson shot .488 (21-43 FG) for the game, hitting 12-of-26 3-point attempts (.462) including 7-of-13 in the second half. Harvard's 26 victories establish a new program record for a single season, and the Crimson ties last season's squad with 12 conference victories. Harvard has now won two Ivy League crowns in program history (2010-11 and 2011-12).
Chris Wroblewski shook off a 6-for-16 shooting night to lead Cornell (12-16, 7-7 Ivy) with 19 points to go with seven assists.
Harvard's hot-shooting second half was matched in every way by the home-standing Big Red, which connected on 6-of-11 from deep to keep the game close.
In the second half, Cornell opened with a 6-0 run to tie the game, 27-27, with 18:12 to play. After two free throws by Casey put Harvard back up by two, Cornell responded with a triple on the other end of the court as the Big Red moved ahead, 30-29. With Cornell leading, 34-32, Curry dribbled at the top of the key and drained a triple, putting the Crimson on top by one. With 14:57 left, Curry stepped up and buried another trey, giving the Crimson a four-point edge, 38-34.
Curry continued his torrid stretch from beyond the arc, as he hit another 3-pointer with 14:04 remaining, giving the Crimson a seven-point advantage, 41-34. With 10:04 to go, Wright put Harvard up by eight, 45-37, with a wide open layup to the left of the basket. Webster buried a triple before the shot clock expired with 7:55 to play, as the Crimson started to pull away, 50-39.
Cornell came back to cut the deficit to six, 55-49, with 5:07 remaining, and then pulled even closer, 55-52, with just over four minutes to go. With 3:53 left, the Big Red got with one, 56-55, but Casey answered with a driving layup, giving Harvard a three-point lead, 58-55. On the Crimson's next trip down the floor, Saunders found McNally with a pass to the left wing for a triple, 61-55.
With 45 ticks left on the clock, McNally banked a scoop shot off the glass from the right side, keeping Harvard up six, 63-57. After Cornell got back with three, 63-60, with 26.4 seconds left, the Big Red forced a Crimson turnover to regain possession. With 23.8 seconds left, Cornell's Wroblewski went to the line and made one, making it a two-point game, 63-61. McNally went to the foul line with 20.7 ticks left, and drained both, making it a two-possession game, 65-61. Cornell got back within two with 14.0 seconds left, McNally went back to the line and hit both again, putting the game out of reach, 67-63.
Laurent Rivard was on early as the sophomore put Harvard ahead, 3-0, with a triple from the left corner to open the game, and Casey added another triple, as the Crimson led, 6-3, after the first three minutes. After Cornell cut its deficit to 8-7, Wright made a nice move under the hoop, to give Harvard a three-point edge, 10-9. With 12:38 left, McNally threw up an alley-oop pass from the right side, and Casey finished with a thunderous two-handed dunk, 12-9.
Following an offensive board by Wesley Saunders, McNally drained a trey, stretching Harvard's lead to 17-11 with 9:18 left to go in the first. The Crimson went up by nine, 20-11, when Rivard buried another 3-pointer, and Christian Webster followed with a triple of his own with six minutes remaining, pushing the lead to 12, 23-11.
With 2:26 to go, Wright went to the line, making the front end, as the Crimson remained on top, 27-17. Harvard carried a 27-21 advantage into the break, as the Crimson shot 10-of-23 (.435), while holding Cornell to 9-of-28 shooting (.321). Casey and Rivard paced the Crimson with seven points apiece in the first 20 minutes.