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Valiant Comeback Effort for Men's Basketball Falls Short at Princeton, 65-61

Keith Wright led Harvard's offense with 16 points against the Tigers Friday evening (Marlo Williamson).

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Keith Wright earned his eighth double-double of the season, scoring 16 points and collecting 11 rebounds, but the Harvard men's basketball team saw its eight-game win streak snapped, falling at Princeton, 65-61, Friday evening. Christian Webster added 15 points and was 7-of-7 from the foul line, while Kyle Casey notched 11and swatted away three shots in a losing effort for the Crimson.

The loss drops Harvard to 15-4 overall and 4-1 in the Ivy League, while Princeton moves to 15-4 and 3-0 in the Ancient Eight. Laurent Rivard made all three of Harvard's 3-pointers in the game, going 3-of-6 from beyond the arc, while Brandyn Curry chipped in with four assists and three blocks. The Crimson shot 21-of-48 for the game (.438 percent) and was 16-of-20 from the foul line (.800).

The Crimson jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead after Webster stole the ball at midcourt and converted a layup on a fast break. Harvard forced another Princeton turnover on the Tigers' next possession and Casey made it 6-0 with another layup. A jumper from the top of the key by Webster made it an 8-2 game, and moments later, Curry hit a reverse layup to give Harvard an eight-point advantage, 10-2. The Crimson continued to control all facets of the game early, as Kyle Casey blocked a shot against the backboard, creating another break. Webster buried a jumper on the other side of the ball, giving him six points after the first four minutes, as Harvard led, 12-2.

With 14:03 to play in the half, Webster was fouled trying a 3-pointer and made all three, giving Harvard a 15-4 edge. Princeton got within five, 17-12, with 11:30 to go, but Jeff Georgatos answered on Harvard's next possession with a basket in the paint. A floating jumper by Casey put Harvard up, 21-15, and ended an 8-2 run by the Tigers. Near the four-minute mark, Wright missed a layup, but grabbed his own rebound and went back up for another shot, making it 25-19 in favor of the Crimson. After the Tigers got within one possession, 25-22, Curry found Rivard for a long three from the left wing, as Harvard went up, 28-22. Two more successful free-throw attempts by Webster with less than a minute to go gave him 11 points for the frame and gave the Crimson a 30-24 edge.

Harvard headed to the locker room with a one-point edge, 30-29, as Princeton's Kareem Maddox converted three tries from the charity stripe with 0.5 seconds left in the frame. The Crimson made all seven of its free throws in the half and shot 47.8 percent from the floor (11-of-23). Harvard also owned an edge in rebounds, 17-13, and blocks, 4-2.

As the second half got underway, Princeton opened with a 9-0 run to grab a 38-30 lead over Harvard. A jumper by Casey at 16:15 was Harvard's first field goal of the half, getting Harvard within six, 38-32, and snapping a 14-0 scoring run by Princeton going back to late in the first stanza. Wright spun his way to a layup with just under 14 minutes to go, getting Harvard back within nine, 43-34. Harvard began to regain its composure on the offensive end, and a layup by Curry through traffic cut the Crimson's deficit to seven, 45-38.

With 8:31 to play in regulation, Webster went to the line and converted both, making it 49-40 in favor of Princeton. Wright hit a layup on Harvard's next time with the ball to make it a seven-point contest, 49-42, and a few possessions later, he made two from the charity stripe, cutting the deficit to just five, 51-46.

Wright drew contact on a layup under the basket, but missed the ensuing layup as Harvard trailed by six, 54-48, with 4:17 remaining. Webster made an acrobatic layup with just 2:21 to play, as Harvard continued to chip away at Princeton's lead, 56-52. With 1:28 to play, Curry handed a pass to Rivard who buried a long trey, getting the Crimson back within five, 60-55. Casey went to the line with 40 seconds to play and made one, cutting the deficit to four, 60-56. Rivard nailed another incredibly long 3-pointer with just 18.3 ticks left on the clock, getting Harvard within two, 61-59. With six seconds to go, Casey dunked the ball to keep the Crimson within a possession, 63-61, but the Tigers' Ian Hummer was fouled on the next play, putting Princeton back up four, 65-61, with two foul shots, as the Crimson would not get any closer.

Hummer paced Princeton with 17 points, while Dan Mavraides tallied 15 and Maddox added 14 points. The Tigers' bench outscored their Crimson counterpart, 23-11.

Harvard remains on the road to visit Penn in another pivotal Ivy contest Saturday evening at 7 p.m.