Defense Sparks Men's Basketball to 79-37 Win Versus MIT

Defense Sparks Men's Basketball to 79-37 Win Versus MIT

The Crimson forced 29 turnovers en route to its home opening win (Tim Hart).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's basketball team opened its home schedule with a convincing 79-37 win over cross-town foe MIT on Tuesday at Lavietes Pavilion.

12 of the 13 Crimson to see minutes scored at least two points led by Wesley Saunders' 14. Zena Edosomwan chipped in 13 points with Kyle Casey adding 11 points and seven rebounds. Harvard (2-0) finished the night shooting 45.5 percent (30-66) from the floor and was 15-of-21 at the line.

The bigger story for Harvard may have been its effort at the defensive end as the Crimson forced 29 MIT (0-1) turnovers while registering 19 steals. The 29 turnovers forced represent a team-high under head coach Tommy Amaker, while the 19 steals are just one shy of the program's all-time record of 20. Casey, Saunders and Laurent Rivard each picked up three steals in the victory with Matt Fraschilla and Evan Cummins adding two.

Harvard scored 35 points off the MIT turnovers including 12 on the fast break. The Crimson also owned a sizeable advantage in the paint, where it outscored the Engineers, 42-16.

Harvard dominated the game from the opening tip and held an 11-2 lead at the first media timeout. After a pair of Rivard free throws, Casey found a wide open Saunders for a two-handed dunk. On the ensuing possession Casey blocked an MIT attempt under the visitor's basket before scoring at the other end for a 6-0 margin. Prior to the stoppage, Saunders added a three-pointer and layup to give the Crimson the nine-point edge.

After a brief MIT run made it a 14-8 game, Dee Giger sparked a 27-6 stretch to close out the frame. Casey provided the highlight of the night with a one-handed alley-oop over an MIT defender from Siyani Chambers, and a strong dunk from Steve Moundou-Missi on the break made it a 27-11 game. Two fast break layup from Saunders gave the Crimson its first 20-point lead, 31-11, and Agunwa Okolie finished off the scoring with a transition layup of his own.

Saunders scored 13 of his points in the first half, connecting on 6-of-10 attempts from the floor while pulling down four rebounds.

Harvard opened the second half with a 10-2 run capped off by a two-handed Casey slam, 51-16. Jonah Travis went over top of a defender for a two-handed jam of his own to make the score 59-17, and a contested Okolie dunk on the break put the score at 65-26. Back-to-back three's from Fraschilla were followed by a Cummins bucket to give the Crimson its largest lead, 75-31, as Harvard rolled to the 79-37 final.

Game Notes: Harvard's 42-point margin of victory was the second largest under head coach Tommy Amaker, behind only a 94-51 triumph against Daniel Webster on Dec. 28, 2008. … Harvard forced 29 MIT turnovers, the most for the Crimson under head coach Tommy Amaker … Harvard's 19 steals were one shy of the program record of 20, which has been accomplished four times (most recent vs. Hartford, 1/30/01) … The Crimson's 37 points allowed were the fewest since a 65-35 win at Yale on Jan. 27, 2012 … Harvard enjoyed a 20-0 run in the first half and closed the frame with a 27-6 stretch over the final 11:12.