Keith Wright became Harvard's all-time block leader Saturday night, but the Crimson fell, 55-54, to Penn (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's basketball team controlled much of the second half, but Ivy League rival Penn scored 15 of the last 20 points to stun the Crimson, 55-54, in front of a sold out crowd at Lavietes Pavilion on Senior Night Saturday. The Quakers' Zack Rosen hit two free throws with 23.2 seconds left to give Penn a one-point advantage, which Penn held in the final moments
Kyle Casey scored 12 points for Harvard and Wesley Saunders added 10. Penn (17-11, 9-2 Ivy) was led offensively by Rosen, who had 20 points on 6-of-14 shooting. Harvard shot 16-of-36 (.444) for the game and concludes the regular season 11-1 at home, as the Crimson's 28-game home win streak was snapped.
The Crimson remain in first place of the Ivy League, a half game ahead of Penn. The Quakers have three games remaining on its schedule, while Harvard has two. The Crimson will visit Columbia Friday, March 2 at 7 p.m., before facing Cornell Saturday, March 3 in Ithaca, N.Y. Penn hosts Brown and Yale next weekend and finishes its Ivy slate March 6 at Princeton.
Keith Wright became Harvard's all-time leader in rejections, as he blocked the 148th shot of his career, surpassing Brian Cusworth '07.
McNally gave Harvard a 3-0 lead with a triple early and added a free throw with 16:57 left to make it 5-2. After Penn tied it, 7-7, Kyle Casey went to the line and sank both, giving the Crimson a 9-7 advantage. Penn scored the next four points to grab an 11-9 lead and then extended its advantage to four points, 13-9, with 11 minutes remaining. Casey connected on a jumper to end the 6-0 run for the Quakers, getting Harvard back within two, 13-11.
Moments later, Casey sent a pass to Laurent Rivard, who buried a triple to put Harvard in front, 14-13. With just under nine minutes left, Brandyn Curry sent an alley-oop pass to Steve Moundou-Missi, who finished with a layup under the hoop, as Harvard led, 16-15. With 4:51 to go, Wesley Saunders hit a tough shot in the paint to give the Crimson a three-point edge, 20-17.
Saunders added a tip-in off his own miss, keeping Harvard in front, 24-20, with just over three minutes to play in the first. With 1:27 left, McNally buried a jump shot before the shot clock expired, 26-22. Saunders connected on a bucket after driving the paint, as Harvard extended its lead to 30-22, in the final seconds of the first half. Harvard carried a 30-24 lead into the break and was led offensively by Laurent Rivard , who had eight points at the break. The Crimson shot 58.8 percent (10-of-17), but the team turned the ball over 11 times in the first 20 minutes.
Keith Wright made to foul shots to open the second half, stretching the lead to eight, 32-24. Wright added two more free throws, giving the Crimson a 10-point cushion, 34-24. After the Quakers got back within four, 37-33, Penn drained a triple to get even closer, 37-36.
Casey ended the run for Penn, as he connected on a basket in the paint, as Harvard led, 39-36, with 12 minutes to play. With 11:04 left, Wright hit a layup after being fouled and made the free throw, putting the Crimson up eight, 44-36. Curry dribbled through the lane and finished with two points with just over nine minutes left, as Harvard maintained a lead, 46-40.
With 5:17 left, Curry set up Saunders for a two-handed jam, as Harvard continued to hold an advantage on the scoreboard, 51-44. The Quakers cut the deficit to two, 51-49, and then got within a single point, 52-51, with 2:23 to go. With Harvard leading, 54-53, with 35.7 seconds left, Penn inbounded the ball in the Crimson's zone. Penn's Zack Rosen was fouled with 23.2 seconds left and hit both as the Quakers went ahead, 55-54.
With 5.7 seconds on the clock, Harvard inbounded under its own basket to Casey, who drove baseline and banked in a shot, but it was waved off as the junior was called for an offensive foul. Penn ran out the remaining seconds with two passes before Harvard could foul.
Prior to Saturday's game against Penn, McNally, Wright and Andrew Van Nest were honored in a pre-game ceremony on Senior Night.