Men's Basketball Runs Home Win Streak to 20; Defeats Brown, 52-45
Edosomwan carried the offense as the defense stood tall (Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's basketball team was in a fight until the bitter end against Brown, but it was the Crimson that came away victorious Friday night at Lavietes Pavilion, 52-45.
Harvard improved to 5-0 in the Ivy League and 18-3 overall with the win, and extended its home-court winning streak to 20 games. The Crimson returns to the court tomorrow against Yale in another showdown for first place in the conference standings, as the Bulldogs enter play 10-9 overall and 4-1 in the Ancient Eight after defeating Dartmouth tonight, 67-54.
The game was a defensive struggle from the beginning that featured five lead changes and four ties in the first half. Harvard shot just 32.1 percent (18-56) while going 12-of-20 from the line, but limited Brown (11-8, 3-2 Ivy League) to 27.3 percent (15-55) shooting, the second lowest field goal percentage by a Harvard opponent this season.
Zena Edosomwan carried the offensive load with a game-high 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting, 4-of-6 from the line. Nine of Edosomwan's points and all five of his rebounds came in the first half. Laurent Rivard added nine points with three makes from beyond-the-arc.
Tavon Blackmon was the only Bear to reach double-digits with 11 points. Sean McGonagill, who entered the game leading the Ivy League in scoring at 18.5 ppg, was checked by Wesley Saunders for the majority of the night and scored just eight points on 2-of-11 shooting.
Saunders scored four quick points to give Harvard a 6-2 lead out of the gates, and Edosomwan added a jumper for an 8-6 advantage after the Bears tied the score at 6. Brown got to the free throw line to go back in front, 10-8, before an Evan Cummins offensive rebound led to a Brandyn Curry three-pointer and an 11-10 Harvard edge. Norman Hobbie put the Crimson in a 13-11 hole with his transition three, and with 6:03 remaining Harvard was facing a 17-13 deficit.
A bucket by Steve Moundou-Missi jump started a 10-1 run as the Crimson regained the lead, 23-18. Edosomwan followed with two at the line and a strong putback, before Rivard's three-pointer moved the score to 22-18. Edosomwan finished the run off at the line, hitting 1-of-2.
Siyani Chambers picked the pocket of Blackmon and went the distance before another Edosomwan putback gave Harvard a 27-21 halftime lead. The freshman led all scorers at the break with nine points on 3-of-4 shooting and five rebounds. Harvard combined to shoot just 37.9 percent (11-29) as a team but held Brown to 22.2 percent (6-of-27) and just seven points in the paint.
Moundou-Missi gave the Crimson a spark to begin the second half, pinning Cedric Kuakumensah's layup attempt on the glass before finishing at the other end. Moundou-Missi came away with a steal on the ensuing Brown possession leading to a Kyle Casey layup, and after the junior corralled an offensive rebound off his own miss he found Rivard for an open three. Chambers went the distance off a steal to make it nine straight points and a 36-21 lead.
Brown responded with a 13-5 stretch to pull within seven points, 41-34, with 10:25 to play. McGonagill's first field goal cut the Bear's deficit to just five moments later, 44-39, but Rivard countered with his third triple for a 47-39 lead. Steven Spieth made it a 48-43 game with 4:34 remaining at the line, and a pair by Blackmon put the score at 48-45 with just 2:17 on the clock.
Saunders got to the line to regain a 50-45 margin and then locked down on McGonagill, forcing the senior into a traveling violation. The Crimson came up empty at the other end, but another defensive stand gave the ball back to Harvard and put Moundou-Missi at the charity stripe. Moundou-Missi calmly hit both, then came away with a block on Brown's final possession to seal the 52-45 victory.
Game Notes: Harvard extended its home win streak to 20 games, the sixth longest streak in the NCAA … Harvard's 5-0 record to begin Ivy League play is the second best in program history behind the 2011-12 squad which began 7-0 … Harvard has earned nine straight wins over Brown, the longest streak in series history … Brown was limited to just 27.3 percent shooting (15-55), the second lowest percentage for an opponent this season and the second lowest under head coach Tommy Amaker … Harvard has held seven opponents to 50 points or fewer … Zena Edosomwan led Harvard in scoring for the second time this season, notching 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting, 4-of-6 at the line … Kyle Casey became the fourth member of the Crimson to record 1,000 points, 600 rebounds and 100 blocks.