Balanced Scoring Effort Helps Harvard Men’s Basketball to 72-65 Win Over Holy Cross

Balanced Scoring Effort Helps Harvard Men’s Basketball to 72-65 Win Over Holy Cross

Saunders led four Crimson in double figures with 15 points to push Harvard past Holy Cross, 72-65, Saturday afternoon (photo Gil Talbot).

Wesley Saunders paced the Crimson with 15 points, and Siyani Chambers added 14 of his own, as the Harvard men's basketball team won its second straight game, topping Holy Cross by a score of 72-65 at Lavietes Pavilion Saturday afternoon.

Christian Webster notched  13 points and grabbed a team-best six boards, while Laurent Rivard scored 10, helping the Crimson improve to 6-4 overall on the year. Dave Dudzinski led Holy Cross with 22 points, as the Crusaders see their record fall to 7-5.

The Crimson shot 25-of-50 (50%) for the game, including 7-for-19 (36.8%) from beyond the arc, and had 14 assists as a team.  

After Holy Cross took a 4-0 lead, the Crimson got on the scoreboard at 16:29 when Saunders connected on the front end of two foul shots, 4-1. Harvard, which began the game 0-of-9 from the field, finally sank a bucket when Saunders hit a jumper in the lane at 13:55, making it a 6-3 game. On the Crimson's next trip down the floor, Webster tied the game with a triple from the corner, 6-6.

Moments later, Webster drained another 3-pointer, as Harvard grabbed an 11-10 advantage with just over 11 minutes to go in the opening half. The Crimson extended its lead with a hook shot off the right hand Kenyatta Smith, 13-10, but the Crusaders answered with a 3-pointer on the other end to tie the game, 13-13. With 9:34 left, Jonah Travis made a reverse layup, as Harvard led by three, 18-15, as the Crimson made seven straight field-goal attempts.

Smith kept the Harvard basket streak going with an and-one with 8:54 to play, as the Crimson went up by five, 21-16. Steve Moundou-Missi made Harvard's ninth straight shot with a nice move for a reverse layup, making it a 23-18 contest. With 6:05 to play, Chambers sent a pass up the court on the break to Travis, who finished with two points, 25-18.

With just under four minutes left, Chambers connected on a highlight reel layup on the break, as the Crimson extended its lead to 29-23. After Harvard went up by eight, 31-23, with a bucket by Travis, Chambers drew contact attempting a 3-pointer with 2:17 remaining. Chambers made two of the ensuing foul shots, as Harvard maintained an eight-point edge, 33-25.  In the last minute of the half, Saunders drained a 3-pointer, as Harvard took a 36-27 advantage into the break. Saunders paced the Crimson with eight points in the first 20 minutes.

In the second, Webster started it off for Harvard with a runner in the lane, 38-29, and then Chambers hit a jumper, giving the Crimson its largest lead to that point, 40-29. At the 17:05 mark, Chambers sent a pass to Rivard, who stepped up and nailed a 3-pointer from the wing, as the Crimson went up by 14, 45-31. Rivard connected on his second 3-pointer, and then assisted on a bucket by Saunders, as Harvard continued to remain in control, 50-36.

After the Crusaders cut Harvard's lead to 52-45, Holy Cross added another bucket on its 11-2 run to make it 52-47. With 11:48 left, the Crusaders got within three, and then cut the deficit to one, 52-51, following the media timeout. Holy Cross went up by one, 53-52, with 10 minutes to go, but Travis answered on the other end with the hoop and the harm. Travis hit the foul shot, making it a 55-53 contest in favor of the Crimson.

Webster drew contact attempting a jumper in the paint with 8:57 left and hit both free throws, as the Crimson went back up, 57-56. Chambers hit a runner on the break to push Harvard's lead to three, 59-56, but the Crusaders once again cut it to a one-point contest. Holy Cross grabbed a 60-59 lead with less than six minutes to go, but the Crimson took it right back, as Saunders made two foul shots, 61-60. With 4:22 left, Webster nailed another 3-pointer, giving Harvard a four-point cushion, 64-60.

Chambers connected on an and-one with 2:50 left, giving Harvard a 67-62 advantage after he sank the free throw. Down the stretch, the Crusaders hit three foul shots, getting back within two, 67-65, with 1:02 to play. Saunders hit the first of two foul shots with 35.3 ticks left, making it 68-65. After grabbing a defensive board with 13.3 seconds left, Rivard stepped up and made two foul shots, putting the game out of reach, 70-65.  

After the holidays, the Crimson will travel west and will face California Saturday Dec. 29 at 8 p.m. EST on the Pac-12 Networks. Harvard will then visit St. Mary's Monday, Dec. 31 in a game shown on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. EST.