Kenyatta Smith had a career-high five blocks against MIT (Kevin Burns).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Wesley Saunders, Jonah Travis and Laurent Rivard all scored in double figures, as the Harvard men's basketball team defeated MIT, 69-54, in the season opener before 1,755 fans at Lavietes Pavilion Friday evening.
Travis scored 14 points and pulled down eight rebounds, while Rivard knocked down two treys. Saunders tallied 11 points, dished out four assists. Kenyatta Smith added five blocks and eight boards for Harvard (1-0) in a winning effort. Mitchell Kates paced MIT (0-1) with 20 points, and Will Tashman had 15 points and nine rebounds.
Up next, the Crimson will visit Massachusetts Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 10 a.m. The game will be shown live nationally on ESPN as part of the network's Tip-off Marathon.
After falling behind early, 10-0, Harvard rattled off a 6-0 run, to climb within four, 10-6, when Jonah Travis scored on a dunk, giving Harvard some momentum. Travis added another bucket on the Crimson's next possession, as Harvard kept pace with MIT, 12-8. Christian Webster connected on a reverse lay-up to make it a two-point contest, and then Saunders hit a runner on the break, as Harvard tied the game, 12-12, with 10:36 left in the first.
Following Smith's jumper which gave the Crimson its first lead, 14-12, Chambers drilled a trey, as Harvard enjoyed a 17-2 run to go up 17-12. Saunders added two free throws with 6:30 to play, as Harvard extended its run to 20-2, 20-12. MIT responded with back-to-back baskets to get back within five, 20-17, Saunders stepped up and nailed an open 3-pointer, as Harvard led, 25-19, with less than five minutes to play in the opening frame.
Rivard made another triple with 2:25 left, making it 30-21, but MIT added five points in the final moments, as Harvard went to the locker room up, 31-26. Saunders led the Crimson with eight points at the break, while Kates had 12 for MIT.
Harvard started the second half with a floater by Smith off a pass in the paint by Saunders, and then Saunders scored on the Crimson's next possession, opening up a 35-26 advantage. Harvard extended the run to 6-0 to open the stanza with a jumper by Chambers, and then Smith added an offensive board, followed by a bucket, as the Crimson went up by 11, its largest lead to that point.
With 14:32 left, Rivard grabbed an offensive board and put it back for two points, as Harvard continued to hold an advantage on the scoreboard, 46-35. Travis stepped to the foul line with 12:17 left and made the second, as Harvard led, 48-37. Steve Moundou-Missi brought the crowd Lavietes to its feed with 9:29 left as he threw down a two-handed dunk after Travis made a steal on the other end, 52-40.
With less than seven minutes to go, Travis made a nice move under the hoop for a bucket between two defenders, as Harvard maintained a double digit lead, 57-46. Moments later, Siyani Chambers knocked down a 3-pointer from the wing, 62-48. Rivard found Webster for a trey with just over four minutes remaining, as Harvard went ahead by 15, 65-50.
Harvard scored 38 points in the paint and finished 6-of-15 (.400) from beyond the arc.