Keith Wright shot 8-of-11 from the floor at Monmouth (Kerzner International/Issac Baldizon).
WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Keith Wright tallied a season-high with 18 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks to lead the No. 25 Harvard men's basketball team to a 70-61 win at Monmouth Tuesday evening. Laurent Rivard drained 4-of-10 3-pointers, finishing with 16 points for the Crimson in a winning effort.
Harvard improves to 14-2 overall on the season, while Monmouth sees its record slip to 3-14. The Crimson made 49.0 percent of its shots from the field (25-of-51), while Brandyn Curry dished out five assists. Oliver McNally handed out four helpers and was 8-of-8 from the foul line to finish with eight points. The Crimson outrebounded the Hawks, 41-31, and owned a 10-0 edge in rejections.
Wright, who recorded his third double-double of the year and shot 8-of-11 from the floor in the game, made Harvard's first two baskets after being fouled, as the Crimson led, 5-2, early. Rivard knocked down a triple on Harvard's nest possession to open a six-point edge, 8-2. Rivard drilled another trey off a pass from McNally, putting Harvard up, 13-6, after the first six minutes of play. With 12 minutes to go in the half, Rivard made his third 3-pointer, as the Crimson went up by eight, 16-8.
The Hawks, who went over the foul limit with 11:36 left in the stanza, responded with a 9-1 run to tie the game, 17-17, with 8:05 remaining. Wright ended Monmouth's run with an offensive board and a bucket from under the hoop, putting Harvard up by two, 19-17. Steve Moundou-Missi added an offensive rebound and a basket to double the Crimson lead, 21-17. Moundou-Missi netted Harvard's next four points, including two from the line, as the Crimson went back up by six, 25-19.
With two minutes left, Rivard made a jumper in the lane and Wright followed with a layup to push Harvard's lead to 34-23. In the final seconds, Wesley Saunders hit a reverse layup, giving the Crimson an 11-point advantage, 36-25, heading into halftime. Wright led Harvard with 12 points, while Rivard tallied 11 points in the first 20 minutes of action. The Crimson shot 51.9 percent from the floor (14-of-27) in the first half and outrebounded the Hawks, 23-15, in the frame.
The Hawks cut the deficit to eight, 38-30, to open the half, but Rivard nailed another triple and Wright netted another baskets in the paint, putting Harvard up by 13, 43-30. Monmouth went on another min-run, outscoring Harvard 12-3 to get within four points, 46-42, with 15:27 to play in the second. After the Hawks came all the way back to tie the game, 48-48, Wright grabbed an offensive board and found Saunders for a layup, as the Crimson reclaimed the lead.
With 10:46 to play, Casey made a basket in the lane after being fouled and drilled the ensuing free throw, putting Harvard up three, 53-50. With the Crimson up by one, Curry made a tough jumper in the lane giving Harvard a 55-52 advantage. The Crimson remained up by three, 57-54, with a layup on the break with just under seven minutes to play. With 4:50 left to go, Curry stepped up and buried a triple to double Harvard's lead to six, 62-56.
Down the stretch, McNally went to the line twice, making all four free throws to expand Harvard's advantage to 10, 66-56. With 49.4 ticks left on the clock, McNally hit two more foul shots to put the game out of reach, 68-59.
The Crimson will conclude its non-conference schedule by hosting George Washington Saturday, Jan. 14 at 2 p.m.