Harvard Men’s Basketball Tops Columbia in OT, 77-70; Crimson Remains in First with One Game Left

Keith Wright and the Crimson are now 11-2 in the Ivy League (Gene Boyars).

NEW YORK – Keith Wright scored 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting and had eight rebounds, while Kyle Casey tallied 19 points, as the Harvard men's basketball team earned a 77-70 win in overtime on the road at Columbia Friday evening. The Crimson improves to 25-4 overall, a program record for wins, and 11-2 in the Ivy League and holds a one-half game lead over Penn (18-11, 10-2 Ivy) with one contest remaining for Harvard.

Harvard will conclude the regular season by visiting Cornell Saturday evening in a game that will be shown live on ESPN3 at 7 p.m. A Crimson victory would clinch at least a share of the program's second straight Ivy League title, while a Harvard victory combined with a Penn loss to Yale Saturday or a Quaker loss at Princeton Tuesday would clinch the outright Ancient Eight crown and the NCAA tournament automatic berth for the Crimson.

Brandyn Curry dished out eight assists for Harvard, while Oliver McNally went 7-of-8 from the line, finishing with 12 points. Brian Barbour led Columbia (14-15, 3-10) with 23 points, hitting nine baskets. The Crimson shot 56.3 percent for the game (27-of-48) from the field and was 6-of-13 from behind the arc (.462), while controlling the boards, 28-23.

Harvard scored its first two buckets in the paint, as Wright and Casey converted on layups, giving the Crimson a 4-2 lead. With 16:16 left in the first, Laurent Rivard drained two free throws, making it 8-2. With 14:30 to go, the Crimson continued to attack down low, as Wright added another basket in the paint, 12-4. Harvard went up by 10, 18-8, when Corbin Miller dribbled to the top of the key and drained a jump shot with just under 12 minutes remaining.

With 8:15 to play,  McNally stepped up and drilled a triple from the right side, making it 21-14 in favor of the Crimson. After Columbia got back within four, 21-17, the Lions pulled even closer, cutting the deficit to one, 21-20, with just over five minutes left. The Lions continued the 8-0 run with a layup by Brian Barbour, but Casey hit a basket on the other end after being fouled. Casey hit the free throw, putting the Crimson back on top, 24-22.

Wesley Saunders drew contact in the paint and made the layup and ensuing free throw, keeping Harvard in front, 29-25. Rivard connected on a trey with 1:10 left, as the Crimson led, 34-28. At the break, Harvard was up, 34-30, with Saunders and Casey pacing the team with seven points apiece, while Curry had five assists. The Crimson shot 75.0 percent (12-of-16) in the first stanza, while the Lions went 11-of-21 (.524).

With 17:48 left in the second, McNally sent a pass down the court after a Columbia turnover and Wright finished with a two-handed jam, 38-34. Moments later, Curry scored another bucket after a Crimson steal, making it 40-34 and forcing a Columbia timeout. After the Lions responded with a 7-0 run to move in front, 41-40, Wright used his size to maneuver for a bucket under the hoop, reclaiming the lead, 42-41.

Columbia went ahead by three, 45-42, but Casey faked a 3-pointer and made a quick pass down low to Wright for a jam, 45-44. Seconds later, Casey gave the Crimson a 46-45 lead at 12:42 when he flew down the baseline and finished with another Harvard dunk. With 10:48 left, Casey gave Harvard a four-point edge, 51-47, when he nailed a trey from the top of the key.  

Steve Moundou-Missi gave Harvard a 55-51 lead with another Crimson dunk, and Curry gave Harvard six-point advantage, 57-51, with a floater in the lane with five minutes remaining. After Columbia got back within one, 59-58, Curry nailed a huge triple from the right side, upping Harvard's lead to 62-58.

After Columbia got back within two, Barbour tied the game, 62-62, with a layup with only 35 ticks left on the clock. In the final seconds of regulation, McNally shot a triple from the right side, but it rattled out of the hoop, forcing overtime.

Casey started overtime with a bucket in the lane, putting the Crimson ahead, 64-62. Rivard added to the lead with a trey from the left wing, making it 67-62 with 1:55 remaining in the extra session. With 1:12 left, Casey also drained a triple, putting Harvard up six, 70-64. McNally was fouled and went to the line with 44.5 ticks remaining on the clock, putting the game out of reach, 72-65.