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Comeback Attempt Falls Short for Harvard at Penn, 75-72

Christian Webster needs 12 points to reach 1,000 in his career (Gil Talbot).

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Wesley Saunders went 10-of-12 from the foul line and led the way with 20 points, but the Harvard men's basketball team fell on the road at Penn, 75-72, Saturday evening. Christian Webster drained five 3-pointers and finished with 16 points, while Laurent Rivard made four treys and had 14 points for the Crimson.

With the loss against the Quakers, Harvard moves to 17-9 and 9-3 in the Ivy League, one-half game behind Princeton (9-2) in the conference standings. Kenyatta Smith paced Harvard with 10 rebounds, while Saunders had six boards and five assists. Tony Hicks tallied 24 points for the Quakers (8-20, 5-6).

The Crimson attempted 33 foul shots, hitting 24 (.727) and was 10-of-21 from beyond the arc (.476). Penn scored 34 points in the paint and was 28-of-53 from the field (.528).

Harvard will head into the final weekend of the regular season and will host Columbia and Cornell March 8-9. Prior to the contest with the Lions, Christian Webster will be honored in a pre-game Senior Day ceremony.

With Penn leading, 4-1, Saunders hit a fall away jumper, getting the Crimson within one. Webster made a 3-pointer, but Harvard trailed, 9-6, at the first media timeout. After the Quakers went up, 17-9, Webster buried another triple to get the Crimson back within five, 17-12.

Saunders added a jumper to make it 22-14, and then he nailed two foul shots, making it a six-point contest. The Quakers went on a 6-0 run to grab a 28-16 lead, but Saunders made four more free throws, keeping Harvard within eight. With Penn leading, 34-20, Saunders stole the ball in the Penn end of the floor and finished with a basket. With 7.2 seconds left, Saunders drove the lane and drew contact, sending him to the charity stripe again. Saunders hit both, and then Chambers stole the ball and was also fouled. Chambers also connected on both shots, as the Crimson trailed, 38-26, heading into the break.

Saunders had 15 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the foul line in the first 20 minutes to pace the Crimson. Harvard shot only 6-of-24 from the field (.250) and 2-of-11 from 3-point range (.182) in the opening stanza.

In the second, Smith hit a foul shot and Saunders connected on a jumper, as the Crimson got within nine, 38-29. Smith sank a hook shot, as the Crimson trailed by 10, 42-32, with 15 minutes remaining. Moments later, Steve Moundou-Missi, who scored 10 points on the night, headed to the line and drained both, 42-34, and then Webster nailed a trey, 44-37.

With Penn up, 50-37, Saunders made a nice move in the paint and finished with two points, and then Rivard launched a triple from the wing, 52-44. With 8:31 remaining, Moundou-Missi was fouled going up for a layup and made one of the ensuing free throws, making it a seven-point game.

With 7:22 left, Moundou-Missi converted a conventional 3-point play, as Harvard trailed by only six, 54-48. On the next trip down the floor, Rivard drained another trey, as the Crimson was down by only five, 56-51. With 6:15 on the clock, Rivard drew a foul shooting a 3-pointer and hit two of the foul shots, 58-53. Webster added another trey for Harvard, 60-56, and then Rivard drained one as well, 62-59.

The Quakers took a 66-59 lead, but Saunders went to the charity stripe and converted the first with 2:59 to play, but Harvard kept possession when the ball went out of bounds of a Penn player. Moundou-Missi threw down a one-handed jam on the ensuing Crimson possession, 66-62.

Penn held a seven-point edge, 69-62, but Rivard connected on his fourth 3-pointer, making it 69-65 with 1:36 on the clock. With 32.3 seconds left, Webster drew contact and headed to the charity stripe, but only hit one, 70-66. Chambers nailed a 3-pointer off the backboard with 13.3 ticks left on the clock, getting Harvard within just three, 72-69.