Harvard Men’s Basketball Falls on Last-Second Shot at UMass, 67-64, on ESPN

Siyani Chambers contributed 14 points, including 12 in the first half, at UMass Tuesday morning (photo Gil Talbot).

AMHERST, Mass. –
Wesley Saunders paced the Harvard men's basketball team with a career-high 18 points, and Siyani Chambers added a career-best 14 points and seven assists, but the Crimson suffered a 67-64 setback to UMass Tuesday morning at the Mullins Center. The game was televised nationally on ESPN as part of the network's Tip-Off Marathon.

Christian Webster tallied 10 points and pulled down four boards, as the Crimson falls to 1-1 on the year. Jesse Morgan led UMass (1-0) with 19 points off the bench.

UMass led, 5-2, early on, but Saunders hit two from the foul line to cut the deficit to 5-4 with just over 17 minutes left in the first. The Crimson, which only hit one of its first six shots, trailed, 10-4, until Saunders made a reverse layup after drawing contact. Saunders made the free throw, making it 10-7 at the 14:53 mark remaining. On Harvard's next possession, Jonah Travis also converted a conventional 3-point play, as the Crimson drew closer, 12-10.

After UMass opened up a seven-point edge, 19-12, Kenyatta Smith made a bucket in the paint off a pass from Chambers, getting Harvard back within five. With 8:00 to play, the Minutemen went up by nine, 26-17, but Chambers dribbled the length of the floor and finished with a floater in the lane, 26-19. Smith made a layup with just under five minutes to go, as Harvard kept it within 10, 29-21.

Harvard followed with scores on back-to-back possessions with layups by Travis and Saunders, making it 33-25. The Crimson continued to shoot the ball well down the stretch in the first, as Chambers connected on a trey, 33-28. UMass, though, went on a mini-run to go back up by nine, 37-28, with 1:44 remaining. Webster made two foul shots and then hit a layup on a nice move in the paint in the final minute to cut the deficit to five, 37-32. With time winding down in the half, Webster nailed a wide-open trey to get Harvard within just one, 38-37, at the break.

At the half, Chambers led Harvard with 12 points on 3-of-3 shooting from the field and four assists.

Smith made a layup to open the second half, giving Harvard a 39-38 lead. The Crimson maintained a one-point edge when Saunders sent a pass to Steve Moundou-Missi for a layup, 41-40. The Minutemen followed with a 4-0 run to go back up by three, but Laurent Rivard hit a 3-pointer from the corner to tie it up, 44-44. After UMass regained the lead, 52-46, Saunders made a trip to the foul line and hit both, bringing it to 52-48.

With just under 10 minutes to play, Saunders sank a layup on the break, keeping Harvard within four, 54-50. Smith made a bucket on the next Crimson trip down the floor, 54-52, forcing UMass to take a timeout. Chambers headed to the free throw line with 8:13 to go and made both, knotting the score, 54-54. With 6:37 left, Saunders made a basket under the hoop, putting Harvard up, 56-54.

Saunders was fouled with 5:30 remaining and hit the first of two foul shots, as Harvard led, 57-56. Harvard kept its lead, 60-59, when Webster drained another triple from the corner with 4:18 left to go.  Following the final media timeout of regulation, Moundou-Missi was fouled grabbing a defensive rebound and headed to the line. Moundou-Missi made both as the Crimson extended its lead to 62-59.  

With 1:21 left, Saunders walked to the foul line and made both, opening up a 64-59 advantage for Harvard. UMass scored the next five points to tie the game, 64-64, with 38.8 ticks left on the clock. Following a Harvard turnover at midcourt with 28 seconds left, UMass maintained possession until Carter Sampson nailed a shot from behind the arc with three ticks left to ice the victory.

Harvard returns home to host Manhattan at Lavietes Pavilion Friday, Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m.