Men's Basketball Improves to 3-0 in Ivy Play, Rolls Past Columbia, 77-66

Kyle Casey recorded his second double-double of the season (Mitchell Layton).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Four Harvard men's basketball players scored in double figures, as the Crimson outscored Columbia, 44-34, in the second half to emerge with a 77-66 victory Friday evening at Lavietes Pavilion. Harvard's Kyle Casey earned a double-double with more than 13 minutes remaining in the second half, finishing with 17 points and coming down with 13 rebounds.

Oliver McNally contributed 17 points, while Christian Webster notched 16 and Keith Webster added 14 points. and Brandyn Curry also handed out seven assists, made four steals and tallied nine points to help propel the Crimson to its seventh straight victory.

The Crimson is back in action Saturday evening, as Harvard hosts Cornell at Lavietes Pavilion. Please note that Saturday's game against the Big Red will begin at 6 p.m.

The win improves Harvard's Ivy League record to 3-0 for the second straight season, as the Crimson improves to 14-3 overall, also for the second consecutive year, tying the second-best start in program history. The victory also improves Harvard's record to 9-0 at Lavietes Pavilion and extends the Crimson's home win streak to 12, establishing a new modern program record. The loss drops Columbia to 2-1 in conference play and 11-6 overall. Noruwa Agho paced Columbia's offense with 27 points.

Harvard made three of its first four baskets to open with a 6-4 advantage over the Lions. After Columbia tied it at 6-6, Christian Webster beat a double team and found a wide open Wright under the basket for a layup and a foul, putting the Crimson back on top, 8-6. After falling behind, 13-10, Wright buried a jumper and then Jeff Georgatos grabbed an offensive rebound after a long Harvard possession and hit a layup under the basket, giving the Crimson a one-point edge, 14-13. Harvard extended its run to 7-0 when Kyle Casey hit a free throw after being fouled and making a basket and then went up, 19-13, after Oliver McNally converted a layup on a fast break.

Columbia, though, went on its own run, outscoring the Crimson, 10-2, over the next three minutes , grabbing a 23-21 advantage with 8:05 to go in the first half. A jumper by McNally tied the game and then two free throws by Wright helped Harvard regain a lead, 27-25. Two more from the charity stripe from McNally gave the Crimson a four-point cushion, 31-27, with just under three minutes to play in the frame.  Casey drilled a jumper from the right wing with 28 seconds left, giving Harvard a 33-32 lead heading into the break. The basket gave Casey 11 for the half to lead the Crimson, while Wright had eight and McNally added six points in the first 20 minutes. Harvard, which scored 20 points in the paint in the half,  was just under 50 percent from the field, going 13-of-28 (.464), but did not make a single 3-pointer (0-of-5).

 The Crimson continued to score in the paint at the start of the second half, as Casey, Christian Webster and Wright each made layups to start the stanza, as Harvard opened with a five-point edge, 39-34. With 16:16 to go in regulation, Casey put an exclamation point on his evening with a thunderous two-handed slam after accepting a pass from McNally on the break, as Harvard went up, 43-38. On the Crimson's next possession, Wright added a slam of his own with another assist by McNally, and then a second dunk by Wright gave Harvard its biggest lead to that point, 50-41, with 14:25 to play.

McNally was fouled trying to hit a three-pointer with 12:48 remaining and made two of the chances from the line, as Harvard went up 11, 52-41. On the Crimson's next possession, McNally hit two more shots from the charity stripe after being fouled intentionally on a fast break. A running jumper from Curry's left hand gave Harvard a 13-point edge, 60-47, with 9:13 to go. The Crimson continued to pull away, as Webster connected on a trey from the left wing, making it 65-51. Webster hit 3-pointers on each of Harvard's next two possessions, as Harvard grabbed its largest lead, 71-53. Down the stretch, McNally buried two more free throws to make it 75-61 with just 1:32 remaining.

Harvard finished the game with 40 points in the paint and 16 points on the fast break. The Crimson made 4-of-11 from long distance (.364) and shot 53.8 percent from the field for the game.