Saunders Scores 27 Points, but Harvard Slips on the Road at Columbia, 78-63

Saunders Scores 27 Points,  but Harvard Slips on the Road at Columbia, 78-63

Wesley Saunders scored a career-best 27 points Sunday (Joe Murphy).

NEW YORK – Wesley Saunders scored a Harvard season-high and a personal career-high 27 points, shooting 8-of-11 from the field and 10-of-10 from the foul line, but the Harvard men's basketball team fell on the road at Columbia, 78-63, Sunday afternoon.

Saunders extended his streak of reaching 10+ points to 20 games, while Siyani Chambers tallied 12 points and went 8-of-10 from the charity stripe for Harvard, who falls to 13-7 overall and 5-1 in the Ivy League. Steve Frankoski scored 25 points for Columbia, who improves to 10-10 and 2-4 in conference action.

Steve Moundou-Missi recorded a career-high six blocks for the Crimson, who will be back in action Feb. 15-16, as the Crimson plays host to Penn and Princeton in Cambridge, Mass. The Lions owned a 33-22 edge in rebounds and went 9-of-17 from beyond the arc (.529). Both team shots well from the foul line, with Harvard going 23-of-28 (.821) and Columbia finishing 13-of-15 (.867).

After Columbia opened a 5-1 advantage, Wesley Saunders converted an and-one to bring the Crimson within one, 5-4, and then Laurent Rivard scored on a reverse layup as the Crimson took the lead, 6-5. Harvard went up, 10-9, when Saunders made two free throws, followed by a three-pointer from Rivard, 13-9. After Christian Webster nailed a 3-pointer, Steve Moundou-Missi scored on a layup on the break, as the Crimson led, 18-13.

Rivard added another triple, as Harvard moved in front, 21-19, and then Chambers drained two foul shots to keep the Crimson in front, 25-24. After the Lions grabbed a 30-27 advantage, Saunders nailed a long jumper from the wing, but the Lions went back up by three, 32-29, at the final media timeout of the first half.

With Columbia leading, 35-29, Saunders made another long jump shot, 35-31, and then hit a trey to keep the Crimson within four, 38-34, at the half. Saunders had 14 points at the break, while the Crimson shot 4-of-8 from beyond the arc (.500) and 10-of-11 from the foul line (.909) as a team.

Saunders opened scoring in the second with a jumper from the left side, 40-36, and then Moundou-Missi drove the lane and finished with a strong two-handed dunk, 42-38. After the Lions went up by 10, 48-38, Webster went baseline and finished with a layup. Saunders added a layup with 14:06 to play, as the Crimson got back within five, 48-43.

With less than 11 minutes to play and with Columbia leading, 51-43, Webster sent a pass to Moundou-Missi for a reverse layup, 51-45. After Chambers hit a bucket to make it a four-point game, the Lions responded with an 8-0 run to pull ahead, 59-47. At the 6:50 mark, Saunders headed to the charity stripe and hit both, getting Harvard within 10, 59-49.

After Columbia went on a 9-1 run to grab its largest lead, 68-50, Saunders ended the Lions' streak with an and-one and the foul shot, 68-53. With Harvard trailing, 75-57, Chambers drained two free throws, and then Chambers went to the line again and made two more, 75-61, with 1:53 to go.

At the 1:45 mark, Webster added another free throw for Harvard, 75-62, but the Crimson could not inch closer.