Men's Basketball Overcomes Double-Digit Deficit to Defeat Princeton, 59-47
Curry led the comeback effort with 12 points in the second half (Marlo Williamson).
PRINCETON, N.J. – Trailing 37-32 with 13:19 remaining, the Harvard men's basketball team outscored Princeton 27-10 the rest of the way to take a 59-47 win at Jadwin Gym Saturday night and move one-half game ahead of Yale in the Ivy League standings.
Harvard improves to 22-4 overall and 9-1 against the Ivy League with the win, with just four regular season games remaining. Yale trails the Crimson by one-half game at 8-1 in the Ancient Eight, but will take the court tomorrow at Columbia at 1:30 p.m. live on NBC Sports.
The win was a significant one for the Harvard record books, as it marked the team's first victory at Princeton's Jadwin Gym since 1989. Coupled with Friday's triumph at Penn, it also marks the first time a Crimson team has swept the Penn-Princeton road trip since 1985, and signifies the first time in the 103 year history of the program that a Harvard team has earned a season sweep of both Penn and Princeton in the same year.
Brandyn Curry sparked the comeback effort, which saw the Crimson overcome a 12-point deficit in the first half. The senior matched his season-high with 17 points in 30 minutes off the bench, shooting 6-of-10 from the floor and 3-of-5 from three with 12 of his points coming after the intermission. Steve Moundou-Missi turned in his first career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and was a perfect 5-of-5 from the field while adding four blocks.
Siyani Chambers contributed 13 points, eight assists and five rebounds as the Crimson combined to shoot 44.0 percent (22-50) as a team.
T.J. Bray matched Curry's output with 17 points for Princeton (15-8, 3-6 Ivy League) to go with six boards. The Tigers were held to 34.0 percent (18-53) shooting on the night, including just a 26.1 percent (6-23) clip after the break.
Wesley Saunders opened the scoring with a two-handed slam but a pair of three's from Hans Brase and Bray quickly put Princeton ahead, 6-2. A Spencer Weisz drive made it an 8-2 game, and Steven Cook pushed the margin to 11-2 with a transition three. Moudnou-Miss ended Harvard's drought with a mid-range jumper, before Kyle Casey's straightaway triple pulled Harvard within four, 11-7. The Tigers, however, responded with five quick points, reestablishing a nine-point margin, 18-9.
The team's went more than two minutes before the next basket, with Princeton adding three more points for a 21-9 advantage. Moudou-Missi once again put an end to the Tiger run, this time using a quick baseline spin move to get to the rim for a two-handed dunk. Curry made a three and a long two-pointer to pull Harvard within nine, 25-19, and Moundou-Missi added another dunk to keep the margin at single digits, 27-18, and spark an 8-2 run to close the half.
A pair of free throws for Agunwa Okolie edged the Crimson closer, 27-20, and after an and-one for Chambers it was a 27-23 game. Moundou-Missi went 1-of-2 at the line to move the score to 27-24, but Princeton got a tap-in from Weisz to take a 29-24 spread into the break.
Moundou-Missi and Curry totaled nine points and five points, respectively, to lead the Harvard offense while Chambers dished out five assists. The Crimson shot just 34.6 percent (9-26) in the frame against Princeton's 40.0 percent (12-30), and committed eight turnovers which led to nine Tiger points.
Casey scored the first four points out of the break, connecting on a 12-foot jumper and a lob from Chambers, to make it a one-point game, 29-28. Chambers evened the score at 30 following a back-and-forth stretch which included a pair of highlight reel blocks by Moundou-Missi, but Weisz put the Tigers back on top with a three from the right wing.
Trailing 37-32, Harvard scored nine straight points to take its first lead since Saunders' dunk to open the game. Curry began the stretch with his second triple of the night, and a step-back jumper by Saunders tied the score. Moundou-Missi came away with the steal on the ensuing possession, and Chambers took it all the way to the basket for a 39-37 edge. Casey found Curry alone on the baseline to close the stretch off, putting the Crimson on top by four, 41-37.
Bray ended Princeton's struggles with a three, but Curry came back with a trey of his own. Chambers found Moundou-Missi rolling to the basketball for an authoritative jam and a 46-40 margin, before Weisz and Saunders traded three-pointers to maintain the six-point spread. Curry split the defense and got to the rim to move the score to 51-43, and Chambers snuck behind the defense for an easy lay-in and a 10-point lead with 2:17 to play, 53-43.
Chambers went 4-of-4 at the line over the 1:17 and Curry added a pair, giving Harvard the final 59-47 margin.
Game Notes: Harvard defeated Princeton 59-47 to move one-half game ahead of Yale in the Ivy League standings … Harvard earned its first victory at Princeton's Jadwin Gym since Feb. 3, 1989 … Harvard's wins over Penn and Princeton this weekend mark the first time the Crimson has swept the road trip since the 1984-85 season … Harvard earned a season sweep of both Penn and Princeton in the same season for the first time in the 103 year history of the program … Harvard's 22 victories are the third most in program history … Harvard's 9-1 Ivy League record matches the program's best record through 10 conference games … Brandyn Curry matched his season-high with 17 points, including 12 in the second half … Steve Moundou-Missi recorded his first career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds … Harvard outscored Princeton 27-10 over the final 12:57 to earn the victory … Harvard improves to 11-0 when holding opponents to fewer than 60 points and 10-0 when opponents shoot under 40.0 percent.