Crimson Turns Back League-Leading Cornell, 71-70

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Drew Housman and Jeremy Lin each had 20 points Saturday night and the Harvard Crimson downed Ivy League-leading Cornell by a score of 71-70 at Lavietes Pavilion.

Housman, playing in his final home game on Senior Night, converted a hotly-contested layup with 2:30 remaining to put Harvard ahead, 71-67. Lost in the final stat sheet was a huge effort from fellow senior Andrew Pusar who kept a loose ball alive. Then things got really interesting in front of a near capacity crowd.

Cornell’s Ryan Wittman immediately answered Housman with a baseline jumper and added one of two free throws shortly afterward to pull within what turned out to be the final margin. The teams traded misses and Harvard committed a shot clock violation to give Cornell one last chance with 35 seconds left. The Big Red held the ball until 10 seconds left and fed Wittman on the right wing. Wittman drove middle but was hampered by Lin, forcing an awkward double clutch shot attempt from the junior. The ball clanged hard off the backboard but caromed toward the right corner of the gym where Wittman clung to the ball. Falling out of bounds, Cornell was granted a timeout with 3.9 seconds left to set up a frantic finish.

After a timeout, the ball was inbounded to Louis Dale who drove into Keith Wright and the heart of the Crimson defense. Trying to draw contact, Dale leaned in but was rejected by Wright as the Crimson came away with the win.

Harvard, winners of three straight, improves to 13-13 overall and 5-7 in the Ivy League. Cornell will have to wait another week to possibly clinch its second consecutive league title and falls to 19-9 overall, 9-3 in the league.

The teams traded leads early in a game that never lacked energy and timely plays. The Big Red took a 35-30 lead on the opening possession of the second half but Harvard rallied with a 14-1 run keyed by seven points from Lin. With Harvard now leading 44-36, Wittman tried to put Cornell on his back and scored 13 points in just four minutes to regain the lead for the visitors, 55-54, with 11:07 left. Wittman’s hot streak came to an end with a variety of Harvard players converging on him and the Crimson would lead for the final 9:33 of play.

Wright finished his evening with 11 points (4-7 FG) and a game-high eight rebounds going toe-to-toe with seven-footer Jeff Foote, who scored 12 points but was in foul trouble throughout much of the game. Housman and Lin finished with four assists each and Harvard had more assists (12) than turnovers (11). The Crimson also helped itself with a good night at the charity stripe, shooting 20-for-25.

Wittman scored a game-high 24 on 10-for-18 shooting.

Harvard shot over 59 percent in the second half, making 13 of 22 attempts.

Harvard returns to action next weekend in the final week of Ivy League play. The Crimson travels to Brown on Friday night and finishes at Yale on Saturday.