The Crimson celebrates leaving the court after topping Columbia Saturday evening (Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's basketball team clinched at least a share of its fourth consecutive Ivy League championship Saturday night as it erupted for an 80-47 win over Columbia at Lavietes Pavilion.
Harvard moved to 24-4 overall with the win and 11-1 in the Ivy League, and maintained its two-game lead over Yale in the Ancient Eight standings. With just two games remaining, the Crimson can clinch the title outright with a win next Friday in New Haven against the Eli, or with a victory on Saturday at Brown. Harvard's matchup with Yale on Friday will be televised live on NBC Sports Network beginning at 7:30 p.m.
By securing at least a share of the conference championship, Harvard becomes the first team to win four consecutive Ivy League titles since Penn did so from 1993-96.
Harvard's senior class stepped up big in its final game at Lavietes Pavilion, accounting for 39 of the team's 80 points. Laurent Rivard led the way shooting 6-of-8 from beyond-the-arc to finish with 21 points, moving himself into a tie with former Princeton sharpshooter Douglas Davis for third place in Ivy League history with 276 career three's. Kyle Casey added 10 points and four rebounds, with Brandyn Curry (5 points) and Dee Giger (3 points) also getting in on the act.
Harvard shot 60.0 percent (27-45) on the night while going 8-of-13 from deep and 18-of-20 at the line. The Crimson defense, meanwhile, limited the high-scoring Columbia offense to just 34.1 percent (15-44) shooting while allowing just 47 points for the third consecutive game.
Moundou-Missi was aggressive early and staked Harvard to a 3-0 lead. Casey brought the capacity crowd to its feet with a highlight reel dunk after a Saunders steal, and an and-one for Moundou-Missi made it an 8-0 run to begin the game. Columbia finally got on the board with a basket by Tyler Melville, but a long jumper by Saunders and another hoop for Moundou-Missi put the score at 12-2. Rivard scored five straight points, including his first three, to extend the margin to 17-2.
Harvard continued to force the issue, taking a 22-4 advantage after Rivard knocked down his second three-pointer and Chambers jumped a passing lane for a breakaway layup. Curry gave the Crimson its first 20-point lead, 26-6, but a 7-0 Columbia run pulled the Lions back to within 33-22.
Harvard finished the half with Saunders at the line and took a 39-26 edge into the break. Moundou-Missi led Harvard with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting through the first 20 minutes, with Rivard adding eight points on 2-of-3 shooting from beyond-the-arc. The Crimson combined to shoot 55.0 percent (11-20) and scored 12 points off eight Columbia turnovers.
Saunders fed Casey for an alley-oop slam to begin the second half, and after a Moundou-Missi layup the lead was up to 50-34. Another Casey dunk and a hook shot from Jonah Travis pushed the score to 56-36, before Rivard extended the lead to 25 with his fourth three-pointer, 61-36.
Rivard continued to have the shot hand, adding two more three-pointers during an 11-0 stretch to make it a 75-45 game. He was fouled on his sixth and final make of the night, and received a standing ovation from the crowd while at the foul line. Giger and Zena Edosomwan rounded out the scoring as the Crimson walked away with the 80-47 victory.
Game Notes: Harvard clinched at least a share of the Ivy League title with the win, its fourth straight, to become to the first Ivy League program to win four consecutive Ivy championships since Penn did so from 1993-96 … Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker moved into a tie with former Princeton head coach Butch van Breda Kolff and fomer Penn head coach Chuck Daly for the fourth most Ivy titles won … Laurent Rivard finished the game with 21 points on 6-of-8 shooting from three, and moved into a tie with former Princeton sharpshooter Douglas Davis for third place in Ivy League history with 276 career three-pointers … Laurent Rivard made his 118th career appearance, becoming Harvard's all-time leader in games played … Harvard's senior class combined for 39 of the team's 80 points in its final game at Lavietes Pavilion … Harvard began the game on a 22-4 run, shooting 8-of-12 from the floor while scoring 12 points off seven Columbia turnovers.