Second-Half Run Falls Short for Harvard Men’s Basketball at Memphis, 60-50

Jonah Travis scored eight points in only six minutes of action (Joe Murphy).

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Harvard men's basketball team outscored Memphis, 34-28, in the second half and erased a 20-point deficit, but fell on the road to the Tigers, 60-50, before 16,204 fans at FedEx Forum.

Wesley Saunders led Harvard with 11 points, while Steve Moundou-Missi added 10 points and seven rebounds. Siyani Chambers handed out six assists for the Crimson, who falls to 9-6 overall. Chris Crawford (13 points) paced Memphis, who improves to 14-3 on the year.

Harvard finished the game 18-of-48 from the field (.375), but shot 44.8 percent in the second half (13-of-29). The Tigers held the advantage in rebounds, 42-28, including a 16-3 edge on offensive boards.

The Tigers opened with a 5-2 lead and then added back-to-back baskets on the break to take a 9-2 advantage at the 17:09 mark. With Harvard trailing, 11-2, Christian Webster hit a 3-pointer to get the Crimson within six just before the second media timeout of the half. The Crimson played well defensively throughout the first, but trailed, 17-5, with 7:50 to play in the stanza.

Moundou-Missi headed to the line with 6:39 to play and made both shots, making it 21-7. With 4:35 remaining in the first, Moundou-Missi made a nice pass to the outside, and Laurent Rivard connected on a wide open 3-point attempt, 27-10. After Webster hit two foul shots, Moundou-Missi added a basket on the break, 29-14. Saunders pulled up and made a jumper from 15 feet out with 2:04 left to go, as the Crimson began to find its scoring touch.

Harvard shot 26.3 percent from the field as a team (5-of-19) in the first and trailed, 32-16, at the break. The Crimson held the Tigers to 36.1 percent shooting (13-of-36), but Memphis controlled the boards, 23-17. Smith had three blocks and four rebounds in the first half for Harvard.

In the second, Travis made a reverse layup to start the half for the Crimson, and he added another bucket in the paint, 36-20. Travis hit his third straight basket in the lane, as the Crimson cut the deficit to 36-22. Harvard extended its run to 11-0 when Chambers stepped up and made an open jumper, and Saunders connected on a trey, 36-27.

Harvard got within seven, 36-29, when Saunders drove the lane and finished with a layup, and then Smith made a floater, 39-31. Agunwa Okolie made a nice pass to Saunders, who hit a reverse layup with just under 12 minutes to go, as the Crimson trailed by seven, 40-33. Moundou-Missi ended a mini-run by the Tigers with a bucket, and then Rivard nailed a triple, 44-38.

With 9:02 to go, Memphis was called for a technical foul, and Rivard hit both foul shots, bringing the Crimson within four, 44-40. Saunders drew contact on the ensuing Crimson possession and made both, 44-42. At the 7:58 mark, Chambers drove the lane and tied the game with a layup, 44-44.

Moundou-Missi threw down a two-handed dunk, as the Crimson grabbed a 46-44 lead, having comeback from a 20-point deficit, with 7:07 play. The Tigers made buckets on their next two possessions to go back up, 48-46, but Moundou-Missi sank two foul shots to tie the game 48-48. Memphis made the next two baskets in the game, and led, 52-48, with less than two minutes to go.

With Harvard down six, 54-48, Webster connected on a long jumper, before the Crimson called timeout with 1:28 to go. The Crimson, though, could not get closer, as the Tigers hit foul shots in the final seconds to pull away.  

Harvard will return home to face Dartmouth at Lavietes Pavilion Saturday, Jan. 26 at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network.